Over forty years ago my sister, Cynthia, would tell me stories on our walk to school. Her stories became the focus of my universe. Each day I wondered what exciting scene would draw me into its vortex of mock realism. Each word was given rapt attention as my sister spun wonderful, dreamlike worlds into my reality. There are places we can visit today that will draw you into a surreal fantasy like those stories did so long ago. One place in particular is The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve. Every rock, plant, tree, insect, reptile, bird and mammal that calls these eight acres of pristine Texas hill country “home” is a part of the blending of the tale. There are many observed details that flood the imagination on your journey to, at, and from The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve. One case in point happened on Sunday night: Tony Plutino and his friend, Tom Titus, met me at the gate at six o’clock to view the bat emergence. After getting to the seating area, the bats began to pour out of the cave and fill the bright skies overhead. A massive, serpentine column ran from the mouth of the cave past the brilliant white clouds that floated in the distance. Tony brought up the subject of the snake that proved the scientist wrong that I had written about last week. He laughed at the thought of such a gluttonous reptile, but then told me that he had read numerous reports in the Bat Cave News about all the critters that frequented the Bat Cave Diner, but he had yet on his many visits to the cave, to see any of these “so called” predators. Within moments of this spoken doubt, Miss Hiss made her appearance known below us as she grabbed and gobbled down a tiny bat. This was quickly overshadowed by one of the Swainson hawks that circled above our heads and flew into the massive stream of bats that literally blew out of the cave. Just a few moments later Tom caught sight of Ramona raccoon exiting the cave and strolling around searching for downed bats. Then Sampson was spotted on the cave floor crunching on a bat. This little, black and white mammal grabbed the bat from the floor of the cave before the dermestid beetles swarmed and devoured it. But, not just one skunk appeared on the scene. Geraldine also ambled out from behind the brush pile and laid claim on one of the bats that fluttered on the ground in front of her. While she was eating it, a series of loud growls were heard coming from inside the cave. Ramona swiftly scrambled back to her two kits that were vying for a bat that was unfortunate enough to fall within reach of their greedy little paws. As the kits were scolded for their outburst, I glanced out and saw Olympus the great horned owl swoop down into a tree out past the fence. He would be content to wait for a convenient time to select the bats that would become his evening meal. I always held Cynthia’s hand as we walked to school. As her stories became more and more nerve wracking, the grip on her hand became tighter and tighter. If you fear that you may bite your nails, bring someone out to hold your hand and join us At The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve for this dramatic, intense, heart-moving spectacle. Don’t be late, the gate opens at 6 P.M. and the bats head out right at that time!! Call the bat hotline for more information at: 325-347-5970. See ya at the cave!!