The first year they stopped by every month or so to make sure we still had no objection to their using the tractor track to go down through the fields, and to bring us up to date on their progress. They had cleaned out and stabilized the opening to keep it from closing up again to some extent with every rainfall, and were beginning to be able to get inside. The idea of a mapped passage under my feet fascinates me, but I could never get in there, despite J's invitation.
"Our" cave is not like this:
It's no more than a tunnel with the widest parts, J says, eighteen inches.
The narrowest part of my body is wider than eighteen inches.
He must be a contortionist.
He's broad-shouldered and tall, but he's been in there a little more than a hundred feet, and he's identified where he is by the map that exists.
J stopped in three weeks ago. It was full dark. The dogs announced his arrival before I saw his headlights, so I was at the door when his van stopped and he got out and greeted me from the blackness. I greeted back and asked, "Who are you?"
"It's J," he said, and I hailed him more heartily and invited him in. J used to be a house painter and still drives his logo-ed van though I don't know if he still paints houses;
he seems to be employed full-time at spelunking and surveying the local bat population for white-nose syndrome.
That night he wanted us to know that he would be going down to the cave to see what he could see.
"It's dark," I said.
"It's always dark inside," he smiled.
"Oh. Right. Cold?"
He shrugged. "I have my wet-suit."
I think there's something a little different about people who don't mind going into little rat tunnels underground.
Why Go Caving? For enthusiasts, caving carries the lure of the unknown and the thrill of discovery. In a small group -- and usually with a trained guide -- you'll enter a labyrinthine world of narrow pathways and tight crevices, lit only by the yellow glow of your headlamp. Depending on the cave, you may have to wade through waist-high water or scale up rocky walls. If you're lucky, you'll emerge in a large underground chamber filled with dangling stalactites and adorned with colorful, intricate calcite deposits. Half the fun is getting back out.