GNI SPECIAL REPORT: Dateline Knoxville: Barcus, world renowned archaeologist and suspected tomb raider, i.e. dealer of lost artifacts, paid a visit to Ijams last week.
The international bon vivant Barcus—énorme mensonge—is secretive, little is known about him except he speaks with an awkward accent. It is believed he has a penchant for 10,000-page French novels about the utter meaninglessness of modern existence, thus his interest in the remembrance of things past, antiquities. At Ijams, Barcus quickly called for a closed door meeting with the second, third and fourth graders attending the Monster! Monster! Nature Day Camp at the South Knox nature center.
Barcus shared a secret and none of the campers are talking. It's all very hush, hush.
Afterwards, the group slipped out of the building and quietly explored one of the iron-gated caves nearby in search of lost time. The hidden cavern is sealed-tight to protect the wildlife that lives inside: bats, salamanders and various cave-dwelling squiggles.
The campers were surrounded by a sandy limestone formed during the Ordovician Period of geologic time, meaning that the young cave explorers were going back in time over 440 million years. The cave itself is thousands of years old, steeped in mystery but does it really hold a shadowy secret? The rusted heavy gate had not been opened in years. And we hear that another shrouded-in-intrigue conclave was held inside in the dark. Lips are sealed. Everything on the QT.
We're also in the dark on what to report, other than not everything in nature that seems like a monster, be it spider, snake, wolf, cave bat, hawk, crawdad, vulture or creepy, crawly millipede, is a monster. These animals are not pernicious, they have their role in the natural world. Ijams' Monster! Monster! Nature Day Camp is designed to separate the fact from the fiction and to have a little fun doing it.
- Photos by Jill Sublett and Katie Plank.
In search of lost time
Upon leaving the cave, everyone knew the secret
But they're not talking.