Thursday, April 8, 2010


This is a favorite image of Gay's and a favorite place for her. Here is how she described it in writing for people that liked the picture.

"This picture was taken with late sun shining in autumn on the north fork of Grindstone creek and limestone cliffs. This creek is the type known as a “loosing creek” because when it rains it rises rapidly, sometimes as much as 12 ft, but within a few days loses is extra water into the many tributaries which have also emptied into it. The creek then moves on and joins the south fork of the grindstone, then to the Hinkson and then to parts beyond.

The forest here is native oak, hickory, maple, serviceberry and sycamore plus many others. This section of creek usually has water in it except for a few weeks if no rain falls for many weeks. There are deep holes, such as exists at the base of the cliff you see. During one very dry summer, the hole had water holding fish and frogs and a Green Heron and northern water snake (harmless) tried to share the hole but finally disputed the territory.

Gay Bumgarner, photographer"

Notes from Sharon-- a little back story for the picture and the place.

There are many photos of this spot. It was essentially her back yard and on special nights she would turn on the lamps hidden in the bluffs and the dramatic rock faces would shine and skitter with shadows.

Gay and Jim placed a bench there to watch things happen. There is a picture of Jim on the bench with Bugsy his companion turkey (or guard turkey). He could hide there with bugsy, have a secret smoke sometimes, rest from the weed eating, supervise my brother rappelling while trimming the trees. There is also a wonderful, romantic photo of Gay and Jim siting on that bench together in the fall (K1300a_Older couple shares a bench.tif) --

The area was changed greatly by the city trying to improve the flow of sewerage in pipes placed under the creek. Gay hounded them for 2 years across her property and made sure they did a good job. She marked every tree, and kept them to their word. The new job they made can be seen in [E0512_Grindstone creek after major city public works.tif] and the bench where they sat returned to its place.

In 2008, during her final summer we spent a lot of time on the deck looking over the lake and beyond to the bluffs. The efforts of maintenance had scaled down with age and Jim's absence-- unnoticeable to any normal human gardener but a source of wry interest to her.

The Canada geese were nesting and presented an excellent low-key distraction and mini-drama. After years of building among the reeds and grasses on the lake shore the geese finally abandoned the strategy. Too many eggs and goslings were lost to Raccoons, turtles, and other predators. Thus, almost 15 after the lake was adopted by Canada geese they began to build their nests on the bluffs- on a flat spot part way up. The view of the nest was perfect from the house but there were tradeoffs and new hazards. Now instead of easing into the water for a first swim the gosling had to “jump” or “fly-fall” down to the creek 15 feet below then a hike up the creek edge over the dam and into the lake. Not a clear improvement overall.

In the summer of 2008 on a perfect day Gay and I were on the deck watching the lake. The male goose came and offered the female her short respite from the nest. The two of them swam together for a brief time every afternoon. They muttered and honked and sounded as if they were catching up on all the events of the world. This quiet pair swimming together -- such a romantic sight and a deserved break.

But, then, they were out of the water up on the dam, upset, honking, running back and forth across the dam. They were yelling and flapping at something happening in the nest. We were puzzled and mesmerized. But, suddenly on the ledge where the eggs sat something pushed one of the eggs off into the creek onto the rocks below. Then we were up, standing, binoculars fixed to the spot, shouting at this unknown malevolent force, no superpowers to help. We watched disbelieving as one after another the remaining 3 eggs were pushed out of the nest, first to the edge where it would teeter and almost rest then it was pushed again. They fell one at a time, lit by the sun, in breathtaking slow motion, orbs alight falling in a perfect arc; disappearing below our view.

My mother gripped her IV pole and the two of us stood on the edge of the deck, holding hands and me offering her a place to lean. We were weeping, outraged and shouting along with the parents whose noise was deafening... all to no effect. Finally, I had to know what it was that would do this, to know if something could survive. It was just days before they would hatch. I took off running across the garden, across the dam, and down the embankment to the base of the bluffs and the creek, to do what?

It was quiet. Whatever did this damage was apparently not interested in the product. I could find nothing. Then down a bit I saw it.... One egg floated in the water midstream, was it intact, was it too cold?

It was cracked but not through and through and it seemed there was some little movement perhaps inside. I carried it to the dam where mother and father were pacing, honking, flapping...beside themselves. Why had they not flown to threaten whatever it was? Were they so certain of the loss or the chance of something worse?

I brought the egg to a soft sunny place in the long grass near them, they were unhappy to see me but overwrought. I backed away. They approached cautiously, sniffed and poked with their beaks, but quickly dismissed it-- dead, too damaged, not theirs, wrong, they wouldn’t own or tend it.

My mother said, leave it, they wont claim it, there is something they know perhaps about the odds and the effort, and there are plenty of others that will want it come dark.

I hated it, that unknown snake or rat that decimated the nest. I wanted signs of the good universe, of the arc of justice and not of waste. If I was facing my mothers death it seemed doubly awful to have the fierceness of the pruning forces be the sign I was to somehow use to help me.

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