Stalactite Conservator

No need for a ladder-- the stalactite conservator can always stand upon stalagmites.

As many of you have noted from my previous posts, preservation of the natural world is one of my priorities in life.  You write and tell me how inspired you are and have been by the example I have set, that I am the only person who has truly managed to carry on the legacy and fill the enormous pants left by Paul Bunyan, America’s original naturalist.  You flatter me!  Of course it is the truth, but you need not put it in writing unless you are a high-profile journalist that would like to put me on the television or in a documentary.

Caving did not always come easily to me.  Like many, I was afraid of the blind and pigment-less creatures that dwell in our nation’s subterranean muck holes.  The tales I’d heard of spelunkers attacked by giant acid-oozing worms and escaping with only one arm and half a torso intact nearly deterred me from caving altogether.  That was, until Office Abbie (my dearest pet tabby cat) chased a vole down a large hole that had been slowly forming in my backyard.  I had been meaning to fill it with asphalt or wedge a large stump in it, terrified was I that a neighborhood child would climb my barbed-wire fence and get its head stuck in the hole, but at the time I was in the possession of a large number of purloined lawn ornaments and thought that I would eventually get around to checking out the feasibility of secreting said ornaments in the hole.  And so I left the hole to its own tectonic devices, gaping wider and wider with each passing day.  At least I did until that fateful day, lounging on my patio chaise with a white wine spritzer, when Office Abbie sprang from my lap, hot on the heels of a vile vole.  And disappeared into the ground.

I panicked.  After all, I had loved no animate creature more than I loved Office Abbie.  She would be devoured for sure– yes, she was a fighter, but how could she possibly fend off a phalanx of worms hungry for surface flesh?  I wasn’t even thinking when I started up my backhoe and clawed my way into the entrails of the earth.  What I discovered there was almost beyond my wildest imaginings.  Once my eyes adjusted to the dark, I saw not a cesspit of slime and mud, but instead a crystal fairyland.  One look at the delicate filigree of the stalactites above my head, and I was sold.

The next few years, there was barely a day I didn’t spend underground, and so expert did I become in stalactite formations that I was contracted by the Parks Department to restore and repair those carelessly destroyed by tourists.  But it all started in my own backyard.  If you come to visit me today, it is more than likely that you will see my first cave for yourself, as I usually stumble across the croquet green a few times a week and hold an impromptu dance party in the cavern.  Indeed, it is a grand ballroom now– I leveled the floor, bulldozing all those pesky stalagmites and laying a jade parquet.  These days you are much more likely to slip on the immaculately waxed surface of the cave floor than you are to trip, like you would in most caves.  But let me get back on topic.

In my excitement over the cave, I forgot completely about Office Abbie.  But it all turned out fine for her in this particular episode.  She showed up at the dinner table five months later, no worse for the wear, and we resumed our communal lounging as though not a second had transpired.  A truer friend I have never had than Office Abbie.

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