Monday, August 3, 2015

NOSTALGIA - INDIAN CAVE REVISITED

The print in blue is a post I put on my page on FaceBook.  It was an invitation to readers to visit this blog for pictures associated with the paragraph.  There are some great Indian Cave pictures on this blog as I visited it a few times when it was a gorgeous place and cared for by a few of the most fantastic people I've ever had the pleasure to know.

I parked the old truck at the bottom of the driveway and walked up the steep incline to the porch of the house. Kudzu has all but covered the yard area and I tried to see where the dogs used to live but that lively weed obliterated all traces of their existence. A sudden sorrow overcame me and I sat down on the porch step and envisioned how things were just two years ago. Bill Sharp and a good friend of his named Joe sat here in this small yard, talked and laughed. And I sat across from them and was accepted into their conversation. The place was neat and cared for and Bill was proud of a mower he had acquired - a mower I doubt he ever got to use. Clarissa, a shock to the senses, appeared one day and I wondered how Bill kept this beautiful lady secreted away inside that old cabin. But, that all was then. Today I saw ruin. Today I felt the loss of wonderful people who were taken away from me due to circumstances controlled by fate. I wondered around the property and remembered how well these custodians cared for Indian Cave. The place was manicured then. Today, I can hardly make my way to the entrance. Even Shade stopped in front of the fortress of Kudzu. It was all but a brief moment in time. This magic place where a unique breed of people existed around a candy cave filled with fairies and false hopes and dreams had come to an end. I am proud to have known Bill Sharp. And I am proud to have provided safety and comfort to his beautiful wife in her time of need. And, now its all gone. And I am a better man for all that.  Love you Clarissa and wish you peace, joy and a fantastic future.  
The Gate to the Cave

I'm working on a major project here at home but I had to get away from this place and I also wanted to experience one on one time with my best friend Shade.  Its been a long time since she and I spent class A time together and I decided to dedicate the entire afternoon to her.  I decided to drive up to the Wildlife Management Area at Buffalo Springs.  I got an idea half way to the Springs.  Just a little further up the road is Indian Cave Road, where the cave and my friends Bill and Clarissa Sharp lived and guided tours in that hole in the ground.  I detoured to Indian Cave Road.  I wasn't sure what I'd find there as its been over a year and a half since I was there as the operation was closed down with Bill's passing.  The property has been absent of human presence in all that time.
I met Bill Sharp right here in front of these mail boxes one morning almost two years ago.  I was assigned to survey the tail race of Cherokee Dam and the waterway flowed right past this dead end road.  He walked down to my truck and asked what I was up to.  I explained what my job was and he seemed interested.
The road to the river was narrow and uninhabited until one got to the dead end of it.  There on a hillside sat the cabin that Bill and Clarissa Sharp lived in.
 Below shows the road ending at the river.  The Sharp's cabin sat on the hillside to the left in the picture.
I really liked this fellow Bill Sharp and that's saying a lot because I don't like people in general but I do appreciate and like people who have the ability to survive comfortably through their own abilities, and I don't mean through government hand outs.  Bill Sharp was tough and he told me once that, "we make what we need".  I never forgot that. I admired him.  Bill had an aura about him that made a person like him - it was difficult not to like him.
Bill carved totums and I noticed a face staring out of the grass at me when I walked up to the house.  I left it alone.
 The lens I had on the camera was a telephoto and I couldn't get the proper distances for good pictures but I did get a few.  The shot below is of the front of the house (the area to the left).  Bill would sit out front in the tiny yard on a lawn chair and I'd stop and share a little time with him everytime I came to the river.  The place was well cared for then, grass mowed and the kudzu kept back.
Behind the house lived three wolf dogs named Timber, Blue and Pea.  I photographed each at one time or another.  When I walked back there this afternoon, i couldn't identify where they had lived as the kudzu had taken over the area.  I felt emotion well up behind my eyes.  I slapped that back quickly because the situation is what it is.
 Above is the water pipe that crossed the driveway that kept being exposed as cars passed over.  One morning when I was sitting with Bill, a beautiful lady materialized from the cabin.  She walked out and sat down beside Bill.  Her name was Clarissa and she was wonderful.  I could tell she loved this man totally by the way her eyes looked at him and I thought him the luckiest man in the world.
 Kudzu is deplorable!
 The roof of the cabin is still holding.  It sags here and there but I bet it is still sufficient to hold out the weather,  sort of.  The shot below is the pen where Bill kept their goat named Ricky.  Its all covered in green now.  Ricky was adopted by fantastic people and makes kids happy at petting areas.  Ricky always loved attention...
 Can't even see the front of the house due to the weeds and foliage.
There is a building under those chimneys
Then one day as I was driving up the lane past their little cabin, Clarissa came down the road toward the mailbox and said, simply and directly, that Bill has stage for cancer.  I couldn't believe it.  She said he liked me a lot and she asked if I'd stop as frequently as possible to talk to him and I replied yes, of course I would.  
A trailer on the property down by the river.
Bill started to sit in the yard with oxygen tubes at his nostrils and tanks of the stuff sitting on the ground.  It was so disheartening to see.  But, he was tough and would not admit that anything was serious.  
I went down one morning to the river and he was on the porch and I went up to say hi.  He said he was going into the hospital for some treatments or something like that and mentioned he'd be back in a couple days.  He asked me to take care of Clarissa when he was gone.  I said, of course I would.

Later on I got a email from Clarissa saying, "we lost Bill tonight."  I cried.  I cried for Clarissa.  Bill knew.  He knew he was not coming home and he knew he was asking me to look out for his wife.  It wasn't just for a couple days till he got back.  It was until she was safe one way or the other after his passing.  I was so humbled that my heart broke right then and there.
Bill had a goat named Rickie and Rickie was tethered up near the woods and he loved Kudzu so well that he kept the area totally clean.  His pen was down toward the house and Clarissa or Bill would put sweet feed in his pail and Rickie would romp down to his pen each evening for that feed.  He was a sweet fella and Bill actually let him in the house and even into the bed.  Animals are dear friends and Bill and Clarissa loved their dogs and Rickie.
 I walked down the road to the gate that leads into the cave property.  It was broken and laying down on the ground.   I needed to see the cave entrance one last time.
Everything is so grown up and unkept.
 Above:  A celebration of Bill's life was held here on a well manicured lawn and a hundred people attended.  I came by out of respect for my friend.  It's all grown up now and everything is in disrepair.  A shame.

 Doors hang open to the few buildings on the property.  Nothing is being cared for.


 And the kudzu.  Good heavens, kudzu!  It covers everything.  Even the walkway to the cave entrance is nearly impassible.  Shade was reluctant to try to tackle the trail.
 But we did get through and that great, beautiful gate that stands at the cave entrance is just as beautiful as ever.  It is such a unique gate. I've seen none more elegant.
 Below:  There is a foot bridge in there somewhere and a statue of Jesus and Mary.  A fantastic high back stone chair is also there, covered by this heavy veil of green.  You see, Bill and Clarissa were married here and it is so difficult to see this sacred place ignored.



 Below is a shot of Shade looking out onto the river from the mouth of the cave.  She stands in a BC environment looking across a dimension of time.

 I remember all the visitors who came to see Bill off.  Now, the kudzu has taken up the space and is covering that hallowed soil.
 Clarissa, I've always been proud of both you and Bill and it's been an absolute privilege to have had you under my roof.  I tried my best dear one.  I hope I've done something right - some small thing to help you even in the midst of my total stupidity and ignorance.  Best and closest of friends forever, no matter what occurs.