While were moving in, the landlady said, “There’s a cave just down the hill. In fact, the cement slab in the yard is over part of it. When they tried to dig a well there a hundred years ago, they broke through into the cave. I don’t want tenants going in there.” Naturally, as soon as we got settled in, I put on rubber boots, grabbed a flashlight, and headed for the cave.
The entrance was a steep downward slope of broken rock leading into a narrow passageway connecting several small rooms. Side passages were too narrow to enter, but opened into spaces that teased the imagination. I finally came to a large room below the cement slab, which leaked light from gaps around its edges. The muddy floor was littered with rabbit bones. Apparently, rabbits fleeing predators would sometimes dive into one of the gaps around the concrete slab only to plummet to their deaths in the cave. A complete skeleton lay curled on a ledge just above the mud. An injured rabbit had climbed there to get out of the cold, wet mud and die—a scene so poignant it made me gulp and sigh.
The passage leading on from there was flooded, but the width was just right to allow me to shuffle along above the water by placing my back against one wall and my feet against the other. It worked well until I hit a slippery spot and fell chest deep into shockingly cold water. The flooded passageway sloshed back and forth in waves. A half-decomposed rabbit floated past me and returned. I splashed and wriggled out of the water and scurried out of the cave in a spasm of revulsion. I dashed to the house, stripped, stuffed my clothes in the washer, and took a long, very hot shower.
Went for a hike intent on the summit of Mt. Aeolus today, but the trails faded out and I got wary of bushwhacking alone when no one in the world knew where to look for me—tough to turn around because I was only a couple hundred vertical feet from the summit…