Friday, May 20, 2011

BITTERSWEET MOMENTS

The ear piercing, shrill, continuous sounds of Cicadas by the trillions fill the air at the old state park.

A new army of them has arisen from the earth in order to guarantee their future in the insect world.






It seems that every blade of grass is covered with them.  They are everywhere I look.





A new revelation has recently occurred in my life.  It is a very welcome one and makes me very happy.  At the same time I am saddened.  I have interviewed for and have been selected to serve once again with, what I feel, is the most prestigious government agency in Tennessee.   Starting on the 19th of June I will be working in the fisheries section of the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, (TWRA).  Although I consider myself retired; this position will serve to add stability, purpose and structure to my daily life.  I might mention that the job is fun too.  I will be issued a 22 foot boat, a truck and trailer to go with it.  My assigned lakes to collect fisheries data from are Cherokee and Douglas Lakes.  They are enormous bodies of water.  For instance; Cherokee Lake is 48 miles long with 500 miles of shoreline.  I haven't researched Douglas Lake yet.  These lakes lie about one hundred miles East of where I currently live which means I will have to relocate.

 TWRA is the reason I live in this beautiful place now, as I had to relocate to this area to operate on Ft Loudon and Melton Hill Lakes.  Now, TWRA is the impetus for leaving.  I didn't give moving much thought until this morning.
This part of Tennessee has represented everything Tennessee means to me.  I have been intimate with the lakes and mountains and much more over the past, almost six years.
This is where Douglas came into my life.  I've shared a one room warehouse with him and up to eight other dogs for the past five years.  All my wanderings and adventures have originated from right here.  I soon will be leaving it all.  My beloved Calderwood Lake will not see the Champlain or Mistral anytime soon again.  Douglas will not be able to play in the icy waters of Slick Rock Creek and the Gheenoe will not test the dangerous entrance to the Slick Rock Channel again.  The Otters on Indian Boundary will be safe from the all seeing eye of my camera.  I will not be there next season to photograph the Bald Eagles I dearly love.  I've seen many children raised in that huge nest on the Little Tennessee River.  The East Coast Tellico Hiking Trail will become a pleasant memory.  Oh, the wonderful times I've spent there with Douglas, Shade and Happy!  Those memories are stored away in my mind and in photographs that I shall treasure for the rest of my life.
It's funny how we humans can bestow emotion onto a place or thing;  which brings me to the old state park.  I brought Douglas, Shade and Happy here with me today for what seems like a preparatory visit that will preclude a final visit early next month.

This old park with its ruins area has been a wonderful place o bring the dogs.  It has allowed them room and seclusion where they could roam and play and just "be dogs."
I guess I've been bringing them here for the past 5 years.  We've watched the seasons come and go and we have walked it's length and breadth.  I've sat upon these old stone steps at the ruins and filled up many notebook journals over the years.
I've watched the old home made brick walls slowly deteriorate over time.  The most recent tornado came close to totally destroying the foundation remnants.
 I've watched Douglas walk up the old carriage trail many, many times while marveling at his perfect, innocent beauty.
 I can remember when a sudden rain storm drove all of us into a fallen down shack just behind the ruins.  Those memories derived from the old park are endless and, precious.  Most importantly, I watched Douglas grow up and mature here.  I am so grateful for this old park as it allowed him to grow up free in an atmosphere where a leash was never necessary.  He could roam untethered and in safety.  Together we have walked over the beautiful flower covered meadows and the lush green forests investigating anything and everything.
 This place was our getaway.  We knew every trail and path.  Douglas learned all the short cuts to wherever.  And there is natural beauty in every direction.
Lush green meadows and forests peppered with wildflowers in the Spring and Summer is the scene that greets my little boy every time he comes here.  It is almost a second home to him.  When I say "lets go boy"; he knows the destination and charges to the fence gate at the ready, eyes bright and his body alert.
Most folks take their dogs for walks or to dog parks.  Douglas has never done any of that.  Every time I've taken him out he has had a monumental experience.  I am so fortunate to have lived in an area where this super quality of life could be offered him.  Yes;  this old park has been a blessing for not only Douglas but, for Shade, Happy and even me.  I have enjoyed watching them enjoy life.
Douglas in his element
 I will try my best to take the kids to the old park as often as I can over the next few weeks.  I will be spending a lot of time trying to find our new home far East of here though.  But, I'll do my best for them.
Only Shade's tale can be seen in the tall grass


Little Happy goes with the big guys but, sticks close to dad

My Pride and Joy
The Opening to his favorite meadow
The road that runs into the lake and leads to nowhere
His favorite hidden path to the lake where he swims
I've walked this ground for years but today I paid particular attention to everything around me.  It all took on a new importance.  Soon this all would be a memory, and later a distant memory.
The tree that Douglas slipped and fell from

This spot where the old road leads directly into the water is the favorite spot for swimming.





When our walks would take us to the dead end road;  they would pick up their gate and almost race to the end of it where the lake water awaited them.  They would swim and lounge in the coolness of the water and just be water dogs.




I wanted to walk through the ruins again and look at the surrounding countryside.  It is most beautiful here.  I've not seen any place more beautiful.
It is growing time to leave.  We would walk out the longest route I know through the meadows.  I wanted them to run and thoroughly enjoy the morning.
Magnificent in the Summer.  So Green!
My little boy waiting for me
They ran through the grass and I walked slow, allowing them every opportunity to make the most of the morning.  To tell the truth;   the closer we got to the truck the tighter my throat became at the thought of not having this beauty at my back door any longer.
"Come on, Come on, Come on Shade.  Faster, Faster!"
"Faster, faster;  Good girl, good girl."
Ha;  funny, beautiful shade!
You see;  this place has been a beautiful safe haven for them.  They have had the opportunity to live as intended;  in nature.  They are part of this place and know every inch of it.  This gorgeous green island has been a get away for them, and me.
The truck is just over the next hill.  I stop and turn around to cement the view in my mind.. I can not believe that soon this will be memories.  I have it all documented on this blog.  I knew this period in time would occur.  I can come back occasionally myself by motorcycle but, I would need the truck to bring the dogs.  And I'm afraid I can not afford the travel costs with gasoline at nearly four dollars a gallon.  So, you see, it's not for me I am sad.  It is for them.  They probably will never see this beautiful old park again.  The familiar meadows and the little trails they love to follow will not see their footprints anymore.  Douglas has his favorite squirrel tree that he always visits but doesn't know that this is the last time he will see it.  The rabbit chases that always end with the rabbit laughing from afar will become memories.  The cool breeze that bends the tall grasses and carries the fragrance of the wildflowers to their muzzles will be only something that happened once upon a time.  I look at them as they climb into the truck and tears run down my face.  They don't understand.  They just don't know.  And, maybe I don't either....