Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tunnels


Tunnels

Non-Fiction

The mound was seventy feet high, void of vegetation, the color of saw dust, missing the dark rich soil normally found along the river, offering a wide panorama of the Ohio River, barges and tug boats trudging slowly, in the swift current, its loose dirt and rock created by the digging of a new mine shaft, waiting stoically for its final resting place, a tempting sight for two young boys.

Doug was tall and strong for a young boy, with red hair and a rugged face, always looking for adventure in the small unexciting town. Tim was much smaller and thinner with brown hair, and a curiosity that sometimes got him into trouble. They were both twelve years old, and loved to walk out to the mine after school to play until their fathers, at the end of the day, showered off the accumulation of coal dust, before going home.

They had to be careful, not to climb on the belt line, which ran from the mine and down to the river, with its ever turning rollers, and screaming bearings, loaded with coal, bouncing up and down as it went over each roller, worse yet the belt could break, dropping the coal on them

Throwing rocks and playing on the mound of dirt seemed safe enough except when the miners would set off a blast in the new shaft, sending rocks and boulders flying through the air. Tim and Doug would stop and look upward watching for the rocks that came crashing down through the trees, dogging left and right like a strange game of war with the enemy bombarding them from a ship on the river.

Tim suggested, “Let’s dig a tunnel where we can hide from shelling.”

Doug added, “Yea, we could dig us a path around the side of the dirt pile and when the rocks start falling we could run up and jump in.”

“We’ve got a short handle shovel at home that would work just fine in a small tunnel.”

“Climbing that hill is not easy, with the dirt sliding down and filling our shoes. With a trail going around it we can run up the hill and slide down the other side.”

“Sounds like fun Doug, I’ll go get the shovel, let’s do it.”

Doug made fast work of the path, meandering back and forth up the side of the steep bank in the soft dirt, packing it down hard, building a bank to hold back the loose dirt. The first two tunnels were small and side by side, where they could jump in feet first, lying down with a good view out toward to river. The next tunnel was much deeper, making a circle at the end, then turning around and reconnecting back near the entrance.

 When the tug boat came to pick up the loaded coal barges, they would head down to the river and watch the skillful tug boat captain line up a string of barges for the ride down to the Mississippi River, out into the Gulf of Mexico and across to Tampa Bay. The tug boat crew would tie the barges together three wide and up to four or five deep, then the tug boat would gently push them into the current for the long ride south.

Doug and Tim enjoyed watching the tug boats and dreamed of taking the round trip to Tampa where the barges would be unloaded at the power plant and then reloaded with phosphate from the Bone Valley region of central Florida for the long ocean trip back to New Orleans, followed by the push up river to Ohio. The mining company owned the coal mine and the barges, making money selling the coal to Tampa Power and Light, then hauling phosphate back up river instead of pushing empty barges.

Tim’s father ran the underground mining operation and arranged for Tim and his friend Doug to take a short ride on the tug boat. The boys were spell bound, the tug boat larger and faster than they imagined, cutting through the water and turning on a dime. The captain showed them how he used the boat’s radar, with its green sweeping line, leaving a trail of dots, to mark the sand bars and other boats on the river. The sonar caught Tim’s eye, tracing the bottom, making low beeping, as they cruised along.

“What is that?” As Tim, pointed to a blurry image on the round screen.

“That’s a school of fish twenty feet below the bottom of the boat.”

He explained how they would park the barges at the dams, that were located, every six to twenty miles, depending on the fall of the river, and push them through the locks a few at a time, tying them back together on the other side. The mile long belt line ran loaded high with coal from the mine day and night, filling the coal barges, upon their return.

Near quitting time and a shift change at the mine the boys would head for the showers to meet their dads. Rows of clothes hung from chains, like bodies in a horror movie, hosted up above their heads in the large shower room. The miners would discard their work overalls, to be washed overnight and hung on the chains to dry, with matching numbers, overalls to chain, then showering off and lowering their clean clothes and baskets with belongings before heading home.

The boys started a new tunnel near the bottom of the dirt mound, the digging was easy and Doug was soon in more than a full body length, when the ground shook from a stronger than usual blast in the mine shaft. Doug started backing out to watch for rocks when the dirt pile started to slide down toward the opening. Tim watched helplessly as he saw Doug’s feet being covered with dirt, and before he could reach him he was completely buried, head first in the hole.

Tim tried to dig Doug out, but the faster he dug, the faster the dirt slid down. Giving up he ran toward the shower house hopping that someone would be there who could help.

Doug could not move his legs, dirt closed in around his chest; in reflex he raised his arms over his head in an effort to hold back the dirt. Each time he exhaled, the dirt slid in tighter, under and around his chest, until he could only take in small amounts of air.

Tim found a few workers out side of the mine. “I need Help! Doug is buried in a hole we dug.”

“Show me where Tim.” Grabbing a shovel, “Sound the mine alarm!” He ordered a co-worker, running toward the dirt pile. As fast he shoveled the dirt away more dirt slid down. “We have to hold back the dirt, get some boards,” He yelled to the approaching miners,” “and shove them into the bank.”

Several workers shoveled the dirt out, as fast as they could, with sweat pouring off their bodies, in a desperate effort to find Doug. At last his shoes appeared; the miners slowed down for fear of injuring him, then digging with their hands they reached his waist, grabbing his belt, legs and feet, the men pulled him from his fresh grave.

A respirator on his face, forcing air back into his lungs, his vital signs checked, Tim and the miners stood over his dirt covered, limp body, waiting for any sign of life. Doug’s eyes open slowly, the blinding sun light causing him to squint, the men shouted, “Praise God, he is still alive!”

His father, just exiting the mine, black except for his eyes, running to his son, with tears streaking the coal dust down his face, “Thank God he’s OK. How long was he buried?”

“It could not have been more than thirty minutes; a pocket of air near his head saved him. If he had been facing the other way he would not have made it.”

That evening Doug and his father showered together at the mine, and Tim learned his first hard lesson about digging tunnels.


Copyright © 2015 Hubert Clark Crowell
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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Mystery on Blood Mountain - Preview

Mystery on Blood Mountain

 

Authored by Hubert Clark Crowell
Edition: 1
Unexplained lights on the side of the mountain were only the beginning of strange things that stirred up the residents of the small east Tennessee community. Matthew, Clair, John and Joann, the characters of "Drawn to Darkness", try to solve the mystery on the mountain.


Publication Date:
Feb 16 2015
ISBN/EAN13:
1505606195 / 9781505606195
Page Count:
76
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
6" x 9"
Language:
English
Color:
Black and White
Related Categories:
Fiction / Action & Adventure

Preview

 
Chapter 1 Lights on Blood Mountain

 

 

Clair sat on the porch and watched the sky as the moon slowly rose over the top of Blood Mountain. She had watched it rise many times before, but this time something seemed different. There was a strange glow coming from the top of the mountain. At first Clair thought that she was seeing things or that her eyes were playing tricks on her. The light lasted for only a few minutes, then it disappeared.

Clair lived with her parents in a modest country home on the edge of Lippersville. She enjoyed exploring the river and the mountains around her Tennessee home. Clair considered herself a tomboy, and she tried to outdo the boys whenever she had the chance. She thought about the fun she had last year exploring the big new cave with Matthew, John and Joann. It was exciting to find the Indian mummy and to see all the reporters coming to town. Things had quieted down since then and were back normal again, but she wouldn’t mind another adventure.

Blood Mountain was east of town and was one of the taller mountains visible from Lippersville. A long time ago there was a battle on the mountain between two Indian tribes in which so much blood was spilled that the Indians named it Blood Mountain.

The mountain was nestled among several others that were not as high. They were all steep mountains with no roads, except one old logging road that led to an old rock quarry on the far side of Blood Mountain. The quarry was located on federal land and was posted with “No Trespassing” signs. Not even hunters were allowed in the area. People said that it was a wildlife reserve.

All four of the teens were very close after their caving adventure the previous year. Since then they had explored other caves and any other place of interest they could find. They were always looking for another adventure.

A few days after Clair saw the strange light, everyone was at her house playing cards on the porch when the light appeared again on the mountain.

“Look! Over there on the top of Blood Mountain!” she yelled as she jumped up and turned off the porch light so everyone could see better. The glow was dim and seemed to pulse, bright, dim, bright, dim. It lasted only a few minutes, and then it was gone.

“What in the world was that?” asked Matthew.

“I saw the same thing two nights ago, about the same time,” Clair said.

Joann and John sat speechlessly, staring at the mountain off in the distance. Finally John said, “It’s probably lost hunters or trespassers on that government property.”

The four of them studied the mountain, watching for more lights; but after a long time, Matthew, John, and Joann headed home. Clair stayed a little while longer, but when her eyelids began to droop, she called it a night.  

Clair noted that both times she had seen the lights, it had occurred just after dark and had only lasted for a few minutes. Over the next week, she went out on the porch every night at sunset and watched for the lights, but the mountain was dark. At school, Clair and her friends talked about the lights and discussed how they might be able to explore the area.

“We should just go over there this weekend and see what we can find!” John was always ready to charge ahead.

“We have to be careful, after all it is posted with no trespassing signs,” said Joann.

“We need to first find out exactly where it is on the mountain before we go. I could take some sightings and triangulate the location.” Matthew had proven his excellent mapping and plotting skills on their other explorations. “The problem is that we never know when the lights are going to appear.”

“I could call you when I see them again,” said Clair, “and you could get a sighting with your compass from your house. Better yet, John lives out of town quite a ways, up on a hill. He could get a better view, and the wider angle would give us a more accurate location.”

They made a trip to the army surplus store to find a World War II transit with a built-in compass. The transit could be aligned to north with the built-in compass; then by sighting to a point in the distance, you could measure the angle from north. Matthew helped John set it up on his back porch, pointing it in the general direction of Blood Mountain. This would be their first position from which to get a reading. Matthew took his compass and set it on the windowsill of his upstairs bedroom. This would be their second position. He was able to get a good third compass reading from Clair’s house as he remembered where on the mountain he had seen the light. All that remained now was to wait for a night call from Clair and hope that the light would remain long enough to get some good sightings.

That night Clair sat on the porch, reading until past midnight, looking up often to check for lights. She dozed off for a few minutes, and when she looked up, she saw the glow on the mountain. As she reached for the phone, suddenly it was dark again.

Obviously they would need a faster way of communicating. The next day at lunch, they agreed that one quick ring would be the signal. Joann said that she would stay a few nights with Clair to help her keep watch.

The next evening was foggy and dark.

“Clair, it’s a cloudy night. Let’s give up and get to bed early,” said Joann.

Clair agreed, so they both headed inside and went to bed early. They were tired after staying up late every night that week. 

Around midnight they both awoke to a loud rumble. Clair ran out on the porch to see red lights flashing through the clouds.

“That sounds like more than one chopper to me!” she said.

“They are heading toward Blood Mountain!” Joann cried.

As the sound died down, a light rain began to fall, hiding the mountain. They would not be able to see anything until the weather cleared. Clair and Joann went back inside, eagerly discussing this new development in their mystery. Why would choppers be heading to Blood Mountain? Did it have anything to do with the strange lights? Was Blood Mountain really a wildlife preserve, or was something else going on there?

No phone call signals were necessary in the nights following the chopper incident. Matthew, John, Joann and Clair each devoutly kept watch until well after midnight every night. The four were very observant, looking for any clues to the strange things going on.

“We need to keep this a secret,” Matthew said at school one day.

“But Matthew, people are starting to question what is going on.” John was tired of the waiting. “We’re missing ballgames and not hanging out with our other friends like before.”

The obsession with the mountain lights was taking over all their free time; even their grades were falling off.

“Something has got to break soon,” Matthew said as they boarded the school bus. “Maybe we should do like John said and just pack up and go check it out!”

“Matthew and I could hike over to the mountain, and you girls could pick us up  when we come out of the woods,” said John. “We will need some walkie-talkies from the hardware store in case we get separated.”

“So you and Matthew will have all the fun while we just wait around!” Clair objected.

“Okay, Clair. We will all go,” Matthew said. “The under-brush is really thick out there. We may need a machete, and be sure to wear long sleeves.”

Between the hardware store and the army surplus place, they stocked up on hiking supplies, walkie-talkies, two machetes, and fresh batteries for their lights.

“I can pick up everyone at six this Saturday,” John volunteered. “My car is running good now.”

“Then Saturday it is,” Matthew commented. “We will be ready at six.”

On Saturday they drove out to the edge of the preserve and parked the car. They jacked up one side of the car and removed the tire, placing it in the trunk to make it look like they had a flat tire.

“What are we going to say if we get caught?” asked Joann.

“Just tell them that we are ridge walking and looking for new caves to explore,” said John. “Who knows, we may find one!”  

They walked for a long time in silence, enjoying the scenery but keeping their ears open for sounds of other people. The undergrowth made progress difficult, with bushes, thorns, and weeds preventing a clear trail to follow.

 “I know that the road is around here somewhere; I have been hunting on it before,” John complained as he cut through the undergrowth with the machete.

They came to the edge of a deep ravine containing two strange looking metal tanks.

“Looks like a whisky still to me,” John noted. “I don’t believe that it is still being used.” He pointed through the trees. “That may be the logging road there along the side of the hill.”

“Great,” Joann said, out of breath from fighting the bushes. “Maybe it will be easer  going along the old road.”

They followed the logging road for a while, making better time without all of the undergrowth. At last they found a sign saying, “KEEP OUT. GOVERNMENT PROPERTY.”

“Well, this is the end of the old logging road.”

Joann was disgusted with the plan of just charging into the wild. “We don’t even know where we’re going. We don’t even have a map!”

John charged on, whacking at the brush with his machete. They followed a trail which twisted around the first mountain and ended at a deep ravine. On the other side of the ravine was a high chain link fence with a dirt road running along the inside. The road looked like it was well used, as least several times a day.

“I think we had better head back. It is getting late, and it looks like someone has been patrolling that road,” Matthew said.

“Not yet!” said John. “I want to see where this fence and road lead to.”

“I would like to know were the lights are located before we go much further,” said Matthew, “and we need to be back before dinner.”

“Let’s turn around in another hour,” suggested Clair.

“Great, we didn’t even bring lunch, and I’m getting hungry,” Joann added.

They walked for another hour, and then headed back to the car. Since they had already blazed a trail, it did not take them nearly as long to walk back.

Once they reached the car, John opened the trunk and put the tire back on. “Sure glad no one messed with the car,” he said when he was finished. He wiped his hands on a rag and casually asked, “What about a movie tonight, Joann?”

“Are you asking me out on a date?”

“Well, yes, uh, maybe Matthew and Clair would like to join us?”

“Are you paying?” joked Matthew.

“I don’t want to miss finding out what happened to Gene Autry in the old serial Mystery Mountain,” said John. A local theater showed old movies every week, sometimes drawing in more customers than the latest Hollywood releases.

“What! We have a real mystery right here on Blood Mountain and you’re watching one of those old black-and-white westerns at the movies?” said Clair, giving John a hard time.

The four of them enjoyed the movie and even stayed through the 1930’s serial the theater ran each week. After a stop for pizza, they went back to Clair’s house to watch for the lights on Blood Mountain.

Mystery on Blood Mountain Is available at: https://www.createspace.com/5180133
 

Drawn to Darkness - Preview

Drawn to Darkness  

 

Authored by Hubert Crowell Drawn to Darkness is fiction, drawn however from experiences as a child growing up in the 50's and living in the mountains. The cave along the Piney River is real and I explored it as I played there alone. The cave in the book is totally fictitious, but so much like the many caves found in the mountains of Tennessee. This book is about exploration and adventure, about young people having fun and getting to know each other.
I have always heard that true stories are stranger than fiction. The fiction in this book is biased on parts of true stories put together for Matthew, the main character and his friends, John, Clair, and Joann. Teenagers in a small Tennessee mountain town, growing up in an age of uncertainty and threat of nuclear war. But free to explore the world around them.

Publication Date:
Jul 16 2011
ISBN/EAN13:
1463724012 / 9781463724016
Page Count:
102
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
6" x 9"
Language:
English
Color:
Black and White
Related Categories:
Fiction / Action & Adventure

Preview

 
Chapter 2
 
Courage to Explore
 
 
 
Summer vacation was almost here again and that meant no more homework. Matthew seemed to start each school year making good grades, but as the year progressed he would get bored and slack off on his studies, thinking more about the mountain, bluff, and of course that hole. This year like the year before, he just barely passed with C’s and D’s. The eighth grade would be rough next year and Matthew was already dreading it.
The late sun sparkled like diamonds on the water as they jumped, plunging into coolness, feet touching the bottom, pushing off the rocks, surging out of the water to their waists.
The iron bridge across the Piney River was a great place to jump and swim. Summer had just started and school was out. Matthew and Clair were thirteen, Joann was almost thirteen and John was fourteen. Matthew lived in a trailer park in the small town of Lippersville on the edge of the Cumberland Plateau, in western Tennessee.
Near the bluff back toward the crest of the mountain was a large pit about twenty feet across and at least sixty feet deep. There was a lot of trash and limbs in the bottom and no way to climb down. The four of them played around the pit and the large boulders found on the mountain, loving the narrow places between the large boulders and the hidden trails, a place called Rock Town. Their games of cowboys and Indians were getting old and they were looking for more exciting things to do.
 

Figure 1 Rock Town
 
“Let’s check out that hole up on the river bank.” Matthew suggested, tired of climbing the bank to the bridge.
Clair, “What hole?”
John, “You know where there’s a cave?”
Matthew, “It’s just a small hole, I doubt it’s a real cave.”
Joann, “If there’s a hole it’s probably a cave, lots of them around here. ”
They got dressed over their wet swim suits and started up river along the bank, skipping rocks in the river, watching for bears, the wind rustling the leaves through the trees, reaching the trail to the cave. As Matthew bent over, picking up, one more nice flat rock to skip, he noticed what looked like a picture on the half buried rock, picking it up, rinsing it off, he carried it with him as they climbed the bank toward the cave.
“What did you find?” Asked John.
“It looks like a carving or painting on this rock of a man carrying some strange things along with a dog.”
 

Figure 2 Photo of pictograph from rock
They tossed a few rocks in the hole to see if anything would come out, expecting a groundhog or fox, but nothing moved. Matthew’s parents always warned him about snakes and swimming in the river, but not about holes.
“On cold mornings I could see a mist coming out of the ground near here from the school bus.” John said.
“We see that all the time around here in the winter time,” Joann added, “it’s all that warm air coming out of caves.”
Clair found a long stick, “I wonder how deep it is?” waving the stick around in the hole that sloped downward. “It looks big enough to crawl down into, anybody got a flashlight?”
 “I can bring one from home and we can check it out.” Replied Matthew.
As the sun set, over the lake, a few bats flew out of the hole, causing them to jump. John started throwing rocks at them, then noticed someone up on the hill watching them.
“There’s some old man there watching us, lets get out of here.”
The cabin was quiet with shelves of Indian artifacts covering one wall, a musty smell of old wood and dust filled the air. Ed was in his late sixties, a World War I, veteran, missing his left arm from the elbow, living alone on the wooded lot he used as a hunting getaway when he was younger. He was obsessed with finding Indian gold, hidden in the mountains, of stories passed down for years in the area. People left him alone, thinking that he did not have all his marbles, although he did have a small leather pouch of gold, with several ounces, and one large nugget, that inspired him to keep looking. The legend was that when the Cherokees were rounded up for the Trail of Tears, the local Indians gave all their gold to a medicine man to prevent it from falling into the white man’s hands. The medicine man was never caught but was seen every now and then by the settlers, in the area, for years afterward.
When anyone came around, Ed would follow them, keeping a safe distance, trying to stay out of sight. He was sure that others were also looking for the gold.
Back home Matthew cleaned up the rock and took a picture of the pictograph with his Polaroid camera. That evening he took it to the Library to show the librarian and see if she could tell him what it was.
“That’s an Indian pictograph, where did you find it?”
“It was on a rock down by the river,” not mentioning the cave, “I took a picture of it.”
“I can show you some other pictures of them that have been found. I would guess that he has a cane torch in one hand, and a pouch in the other. No telling what that four legged animal is with him.”
Sunday morning on the back pew, the four studied the picture and tried to guess at the meaning. “Was it a marker?” “Did it have something to do with the cave?” “And who was that watching them?”
That afternoon they gathered again at the cave.
“Who is going to go first?” John asked.
“Well Matthew has the flashlight, We can pull him back out by the feet if he gets stuck.” Commented Clair.
 As he examined the entrance, cool air from the hole made chills go up and down Matthew’s arms. It was no larger than his body, slanting downward at about a forty-five degree angle. A cricket landed on the front of his flashlight and made him jump. A few others could be seen just inside the entrance.
Matthew recalled the last cave he was in. Before they moved to Lippersville, they lived for a short time in a small town southeast of Lippersville. Matthew and three other boys were riding bikes, on a dirt farm road, when one of the boys suggested they check out a cave he knew about. It was on a farm a few miles from town, on the side of a hill. The entrance was about five feet wide and went down to a dirt ledge. They didn’t have a light, so they could only sit on the ledge and wonder what was down below.
Then there was the time his mother took him to see Wonder Cave located on the north side of Mt. Eagle in central Tennessee. The commercial cave was short with narrow passages, plenty of formations, and a stream running along the tourist trail. He had also been with his mother on a tour of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, but he had never been in an unexplored cave; only the few tunnels that he dug in the back yard.
As Matthew thought about how to best enter the cave, questions began to arise. “How deep was it?” “Could he back out up that steep muddy slope?” “Should he go feet first and not be able to see what was ahead or go in head first and take a chance on not being able to climb back out upside down?”
“I’m going in feet first so I can climb back out.”
He eased into the hole, sliding down the gentle slope, his feet dangling in mid air, he could not touch anything. Hanging there for a moment he wondered what was below, then without thinking anymore about the danger, he let go!
“Are you okay? What happen?”
Came questions from above, as he waited afraid to move, after dropping only inches. His eyes slowly adjusted to the dim light as he shook his old green Ray-O-Vac flashlight back to life.[i]
“I’m on a narrow ledge with a drop off behind me of about ten feet to a mud floor. This ledge is only about four feet wide and extends about ten or fifteen feet on each side. There is enough room for all of us but no way to get down.”
John spotted a log with broken limbs just up the hill. “I found a log we can use, We’ll drag it down and lower it to you. Hang on.”
He moved to the side of the entrance and found a comfortable place to sit while he waited.
They broke off the limbs to make hand holds and started lowering it into the hole. Matthew watched as it slid by and then plunged over the edge. It was just long enough for him to reach it and still pull himself back up onto the ledge.
“I am going to need a hand line to climb back up this slope.”
Clair offered to return home and get a rope. While he ventured down the log ladder. Her red hair blew in the wind as she ran along the river, crossing the bridge to her home, on the edge of town. Clair was a tomboy at heart interested more in baseball and exploring than playing with dolls. She was also a good climber. Her and Matthew got along great and were good friends.
Joann and John were dating, going to the movies together on Saturdays. They all were in the same Sunday School class and always sat together in church. John had an old Plymouth he bought from a group that entertained movie goers at the Drive-in Theater during intermission. They would buy old junks, crash them into each other on the clearing in front of the big screen, entertaining the teens. They could not get the old Plymouth started, so it was saved. John gave them fifty dollars for it and was fixing it up for when he turned sixteen and could get a driver’s license.
Clair found a twenty foot section of rope in the garage, threw it over her shoulder, like a mountain climber, and headed back toward the river, half running, then walking fast, eager to get back and rescue Matthew.
Matthew’s mind wandered as he waited, thinking about being trapped, not knowing what was going on outside, and about a poem, something he never shared, fearing someone would laugh at him, he could write about this hole along the river bank, trying occupy his time, ignoring the chill of the cave. At home he kept a notebook of poems he had written, sharing only with his mother, when she would inquire about he was keeping in the notebook under the bed.
 
 
 Mystery Along the River Bank
Feet dangling over the edge, what’s below?
Good hand hold, take it nice and slow,
climb back up, or drop on down,
come this far I wonder what I have found.
Along the river bank as a boy I played,
rocks and boulders wherever I strayed.
A dark hole, a cave, a difficult climb,
each day looking a little deeper each time.
Flashlight in hand to see what’s there,
was this a den, could there be a bear.
Alone, curious, not quite so brave,
like a mole I slowly entered the cave.
As I let go, it seemed like forever,
now I thought this was not so clever.
Everything still in place, no broken bones,
could I climb out as I felt for large stones.
 
What had I found, a nice little room,
where maybe a bear slept or met his doom?
Struggle and push against both flanks,
free at last to explore the Piney River’s banks.
 
The floor below was muddy, formations reflecting sparkles, as he slowly moved the light beam around the room, inspecting this new and exciting place. Drops of water broke the silence, with eerie echoes along with other sounds he could not identify, becoming more aware of his surroundings. The smell was strange, and refreshing at the same time. A few sticks and leaves on the ledge were wet and moldy, growing a fresh crop of mushrooms, like little solders marching in single file, on the rotten wood.
Matthew decided to wait for the rope and let the others come down and check it out before continuing down to the bottom.
“I tied the rope off around a tree, see if you can climb back up”
At first he pulled hand over hand up the rope, sliding on the slope, then realizing he could also use his feet, he began searching for foot holes. A protruding rock here and there gave him the needed foot holes. Matthew thought, “I will have to remember where they are for the next time.”
The last few feet were tight; with his arms over his head, pulling on the rope made his shoulders wider than when he slid in. Out at last, the smell of the trees and honeysuckle took his breath, along with other smells he had not noticed before. Birds and other sounds seemed to come alive after being in the quiet cave for so long. This new experience stirred Matthew and made him more curious than ever about this hole in the hill.
Next Clair took the flashlight and slid down the rope.
“I’m safely off to the side, Joann, come on down.”
Okay, here I come.” Now reassured that she could get back out.
John joined them on the ledge and Matthew again slid down the hole. All four now on the ledge and their eyes adjusted to the dark, who would be first to go down the log ladder.
“I don’t see any way to continue from up here.” Said Clair, “I’m going on down to check it out.”
The log rocked side to side and she climbed down to the bottom, steadying herself with one hand on the wall. The room was about the size of her bedroom at home, formations covering the walls, the floor sloping gently down to a pool of water, running along the back, disappearing under a rock ledge. Clair examined every inch of the walls and floor looking for some way to continue, but with no success.
She was about to give up when a stray bat flew out from above the water on the upstream side where the water emerged from under the wall, down on her knees, she peered between the water and the rock above with the light.
“There is about a half a foot of air space and a cool breeze making ripples on the water.” Informing the others, She tested the water, with her bare leg, finding out that it was at least two feet deep and very cold.
“I’m not quite ready for a cold swim.”
She put the flashlight back in her pocket and proceeded to climb up the log ladder to the ledge.
“We are going to need some more equipment if we continue on, it’s going to be wet going.”
The climb out was easer this time for Matthew, as he remembered where the rocks were and had the timing down just right, starting out with the left foot for the first one and then the others were just in reach, he felt he could now push himself all the way out just using his feet and his arms to keep off the floor. The others followed struggling a little more than he, until they found the foot holds.
They were all eager to see if they could get beyond the water. The hardware store had plenty of hunting headlights with D-cell battery packs that fit on a belt. And if anyone asked, it was for possum hunting.
They also picked up plastic bags with pull strings that would pull tight and keep the water out. They planned to wear their swim suits under their clothes and then carry the clothes in the bags as they got in the water. They also left a change in the entrance room to keep from going home muddy.
Excited about the new adventure, exploring a cave, sleeping was hard, Joann spent the night with Clair, and they planned to get started early the next day.
Ed did not see them enter the hole, but he cold tell that someone had been there, the hole was enlarge slightly, leaves disturbed, and the trail of something pulled through the woods. He decided to come out early the next day and watch the hole.



[i] Ray-O-Vac until 1988 now known as Rayovac is a brand of batteries and flashlights owned by Spectrum Brands of Madison, Wisconsin, United States.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Ebenezer Road - A Poem

An American scene

Ebenezer is a winding road,
with yards kept freshly mowed.
Homes with good building codes,
sub-divisions that have not overflowed.
A two lane road that keeps you slow,
to watch for squirrels or a toad.

Horses and a well kept fence,
the owner went to great expense.
The ride provides a great visual sense,
not the rush that makes you tense.
To widen the road would be an offense,
we would all have to join in defense.



Three miles from start to end,
with three churches to attend.
Watch out for the tracks around the bend,
and wait for the train that could descend.
To loose this road is hard to comprehend,
I think of it now as my best friend.

School kids may come out to play,
drive slow on those school days.
Addison Elementary is along the way,
watch for the patrol and obey.
The post office is just a blink away,
I know because I go by there every day.

Ebenezer Baptist gave us its name,
a one room church with a white frame.
Across the road horses train,
learning to play the Polo game.
No shops, restaurant or gas station to blame,
if there was one it would be a shame.

We go on trips for wonders to see,
or to the mountains and try to ski.
But just around the corner there may be,
a road that will make you feel free.
As we drive this road we can agree,
that this is the road for me.



From the book Trees, Bees and Weeds
By Hubert Clark Crowell

Copyright © 2010 Hubert Clark Crowell
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