Light in the darkness: My morning at Cave of the Mounds

Light in the darkness: My morning at Cave of the Mounds

If you read my first blog post, you’ll remember I mentioned that dad of mine who introduced me to and brought me into nature. On land or on water, young or old.

It started when I was young according to how many birthdays I had passed, but it went well into the years when I only felt like a kid and didn’t look it. And yes, those days are still here.

It wasn’t until college that dad and I started a tradition. There was a short fall break right around midterm time when he and I would pack up and ship out somewhere. The mountains and quirky towns of western Carolina, the deserts and Grand Canyon of Arizona, and the cliffs and sea of Bar Harbor. Those were our destinations, and October couldn’t have been a better time to visit.

A long scenic route of coming to this: Autumn can be the best time of the year to discover something new.

It had been a while since I took my own advice, so over Halloween weekend, I packed up a news car and headed somewhere new to discover something new.

Cave of the Mounds might be old hat for most of you, but I can bet no matter how many times you visit, there’s some space, some crack, some formation that went unnoticed … something new to discover.

Halloween is one of two times during the year when Cave of the Mounds does something special to accentuate the natural beauty under our own feet.

Kim Anderson, the attraction’s operations manager, took me underground to see what candlelight can do.

“We like to jazz it up around here with some special activities,” Anderson told me.

I was surprised to hear it only takes the Cave crew a half hour to light up the south cavern with votives, but it does take some extra maneuvering. You’ll understand when you visit and see some of the skinny crevices the staff probably has to shimmy up and around to get a lighter to those candles.

The rest of the cave isn’t too shabby, either.  If you’ve never been, much of it is so real that it looks fake.

And parents … the best part right here as we watch the winter chill move in … are you listening?…

Fifty degrees. You can see your breath because the air is so thick with humidity down there, but it is 50 degrees all day, every day.

On top of it, the candles will be back out around the holidays for a Caroling at the Cave event.

Can you say winter outing?

And I knew I liked Kim Anderson for a reason. She leads her staff with the same principles we’re pushing this program with: Exploring the outside MATTERS.

“One of the reasons I work at Cave of the Mounds is to enhance children’s learning of the outdoors. I think it’s really important that children have a connection to nature and to the variety that there is in nature so that when they’re adults and grow up, they care about it and they will be involved in conservation efforts and be wanting to help preserve and protect nature as well. I feel like if they don’t have a connection, then it’s harder for them to get involved in that.”

Cave of the Mounds is an easy 25 minutes from Madison. Along with the candlelight events, they’re offering camps to engage the entire family in nature. Check out their website for the details!

Now take a deep breath … ahhhhh … know what that is?

That’s fresh air and a fresh start.