My brain refuses to accept the fact that summer is over. How could summer possibly be over? There are still so many things that I want to do, so many lazy afternoons I want to waste, so much more sunshine I want to savor. But it's the last day of August and Labor Day weekend. The boys have gone back to school. So I guess it's official.
Summer is over.
It was an awesome summer. We managed to pack so much in, even though my work schedule of four consecutive weekends on call and two weeks of night shifts did put a damper on our adventures near the end.
But speaking of adventures, we did manage to get one last one in before school started.
Two years ago, we made our way to Maquoketa Cave State Park. Although we had an absolutely beautiful day there, we were not able to explore the caves themselves, since they were closed due to an outbreak of a disease that was killing off all the bats. At the beginning of this summer, I heard that the caves were finally reopened. This excited the boys, and I promised them that visiting the caves would be part of our best summer ever.
We just managed to squeak it in, on my only full day off in August, the weekend before school started.
We showed up, ready with our I-didn't-really-care-if-they-get-ruined clothes and our flashlights. The boys listened attentively to the presentation about the white nose syndrome that was killing off the bats and how to prevent its spread. (Bug was visibly relieved when he found out the disease affected only bats and not people). We got our wristbands and proceeded to the caves.
Bug and Monkey were so excited, they literally hopped down the stairs in anticipation of exploring the caves.
Nothing lights the fires of adventure and imagination in little boys like a cave.
We felt very Fellowship of the Rings in the Mines of Moria, working our way over damp pathways through the dripping, dark turns of the first cave.
After the boys found that they would most likely not being coming face to face with any bats, there was no stopping them. They ran up and down each twisting staircase.
They climbed every rock and ledge that provided them purchase (to many heart stopping moments for this mommy!)
They wriggled their way into each cave they could find, only to come back out when they had either reached water they didn't dare cross or the back wall of the cave.
They made friends with the local creatures.
Mostly, they developed a new sense of bravery. I watched my two boys, the same ones who get panicky if I forget to turn on the night light, crawl into the black mouths of caves, armed only with a flashlight. Their faces were alight with wonder and discovery.
This is one of my favorite things about Iowa. That there are places like this, adventures to be had, hidden away between corn fields. Places where little boys become brave explorers.
Places, where even just for an afternoon, we can pretend that summer will never end.