Survival Sam pushed his breakfast plate aside so Tina, our Cafe 23 waitress, could pick it up soon. He pulled out a pocket New Testament and leafed through it briefly. “Gentlemen, you’ve heard of the Bible’s Hall of Faith in Hebrews chapter 11?”
Duane and I nodded. We were both familiar with it.
“Consider a portion of verse 38 from that chapter. ‘…they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.’”
Dishes clattered at the next table as Duane lowered his coffee cup. “What would you have us consider, Sam?”
“Survival in caves,” Sam said.
We were both taken aback. I felt myself blushing. “Wait a minute, Sam, are you serious? I’ve devoted my whole blog to the idea that a person doesn’t have to go hide and build a bunker in a cave. I’ve tried to dissuade people from the negative stereotypes about survival, and I thought you were with me on this.”
Sam put down his Testament and put a hand on the light blue tabletop in my direction. “Take it easy there, John. Don’t be so defensive. Of course I’m with you on debunking negative stereotypes, but don’t be hasty. Just consider the verse I read for a minute. Those who were persecuted for their faith had to live in caves and dens to survive. That’s all.”
Duane stopped chewing his strip of bacon. “So you’re not saying we should all move into caves like the Flintstones or something, right?"
“No, don’t be ridiculous. I’m not suggesting that an apartment dweller in the city pack up and move to a cave.” Sam sipped his coffee. “On the other hand, let’s not rule anything out. Think about how caves have been used in our not too distant past.”
“How’s that?” I asked.
“I thought you’d never ask.” Sam grinned. “Most of us think of caves as tourist attractions, like
“Oh, yeah,” Duane interjected. “Like
“Correct,” Sam continued. “Some of our states have thousands of caves of all sizes, and explorers keep finding more all the time. In times past the Indians used caves for clay, guano, salt peter and other minerals. Caves are sources of underground water as well. Many have springs and lakes. The coolness of the water and the uniform temperature inside caves made them good places to store milk and butter before the widespread use of electricity and refrigeration.”
Duane’s face lit up and he put down his forkful of eggs. “I heard once that the temperatures are in the 50’s. I guess a cave would be a great place to get out of extreme heat or cold, not to mention rain or snow.”
“Yes,” Sam said. “They’re not only a good shelter for people, but they’ve been used to keep livestock, such as horses or hogs, too.”
“So a cave would be a great place to hide a cache of survival supplies, right?”
“That’s right, Duane.”
“But wouldn’t somebody steal your stuff when you’re not around?” I asked.
Reflected light from the morning sky glinted in his reading glasses as Sam turned to me. “Have you got a cache somewhere you’re not telling us about, John?”
“Well, no,” I said sheepishly.
“You have to have something to steal before anyone can swipe it,” Sam said. “Besides, if you did have goods stashed in a cave, you’re not going to put a billboard there to mark it for everyone else to find.” How could I argue with that?
Duane began to look as if he were a thousand miles away. “I can imagine a cave by a river. What if you could only get there by canoe or kayak?”
Sam slapped his palms on the table, and I jumped a little. “That’s the spirit! You know, Duane, you’re on to something there. Guerilla fighters made use of caves during the Civil War. They recognized their stealth value.”
“I guess that’s why people used them in bible times, like in Hebrews ,” I said.
“Right,” Sam said. “It’s something to keep in mind. It would be a good idea to get some maps and brochures from the state so you’ll know where a useful cave might be near where you live. Just in case, of course.”