Posted by: Green Knight | June 7, 2013

Bad Bat-Times in the Belfry

Crystal Cave entranceThe prognosis seems to just keep getting worse for our furry flying friends. The more we learn, the grimmer it gets. I’ve been studying speleology (cave science) for decades, and it’s a complex and delicate ecosystem. Too bad we can’t just fumigate with antifungals and wait, but it’s not that easy. Kind of hard to eliminate mold and fungus from a cave environment, y’know? I’m crossing my fingers that resistant bats will bounce back the way my crow friends did with West Nile, but this is more dicey because they’re so niche-oriented. Corvids are opportunists; the chiroptera are specialists.

The attached article shows just how much so.

As an aside, I have a long and weird history with caves. When I was a youngster, the family did a lot of camping, and I got to hang out at many cool state and national parks. When I was 11, we went to Kings Canyon and Sequoia in the Sierras, and toured Crystal Cave. I was entranced by the underground environment, and on the way out I got my dad to buy me a book at the gift shop, “Speleology: the Study of Caves” by Dr. George W. Moore and Brother G. Nicholas Sullivan of the Christian Brothers order (I just had some of their brandy the other day). I’ve been to several tourist caves and wild caves since then, but that was the seminal experience.

Eleven years later, I was studying archaeology at a little college in the redwoods, and dating a girl whose parents were both geologists/paleontologists; they inspired me to get into that discipline later on. One day I was at their house and saw a new copy of my cave book on the coffee table. Upon picking it up, I discovered that it was the second edition, had been out of print since I got the original, and that the main author was the girlfriend’s dad. Yikes! Synchronicity at work.

Another eleven years went by, and by that time I had for some reason moved to St. Louis…still here, but hoping to get back to where I once belonged, eventually. I happened to look at my original cave book (I have the second edition now, but found out recently that there’s a third!), and saw that the original was put out by a small publishing house HERE, which normally just puts out the local neighborhood newspapers. Why authors would choose to get inked by some outfit halfway across the country is beyond me…tough to make a living, I guess. I’ve been writing professionally for 23 years, and only just got my first paying gig.

As a final bit of synchronicity, the second major tourist cave I visited as a kid was Oregon Caves, which is now a national monument, and another great place to visit the world underneath the world. Dr. Moore and family moved to Oregon some time after I moved to Missouri. Sadly, Dr. George died in an auto accident on a snowy road several years ago, so I tip my hat and raise my glass to a great mentor. He did some studies on the geological influence on soils in wine-growing regions, which makes me raise my glass even higher.

The photo is of the entrance to Crystal Cave.



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