Sunday, April 25, 2010

Reporting For Duty

Reporting For Duty
Samuel Charles Gundy
March 28, 1918 - April 23, 2010

A man of science and a child of God passed into the early morning cloud formations after a week of waging one final battle to hold on to life and stay behind with those he loved so well. As I and others had done for the better part of a week, I sat beside him and attended to his needs as best I was able. At such a time, the willingness to help and the ability to help are dueling realities. There was for all intents and purposes nothing that I or any of us could do to help besides be there and provide whatever comfort that may have been. The desire to hold on must be tempered by the permission to let go - a balancing act that I found to be one of the more substantive challenges of my life. Dignity- so hard to achieve in life seems even harder to maintain at such a time.

Family was all present and accounted for. Hospice volunteers and providers were a constant source of comfort and guidance. If you believe in angels, you might just consider that one or many of them are by your side when Hospice and Home Instead arrive on location. I had one hand on my dad’s heart and the other holding his hand when he drew his last breath and the heart began its permanent state of rest. The moment I had dreaded for so long a time was actually very peaceful. Regrets, there were none. Everything said that needed to be. And as he went, the expression on his face transformed the pain of more than half a century into the smile of a lifetime, a most curious miracle that astounded us all and delivered the message that all was well with him…and that it should be so with those of us left behind.

Somewhere above, a spirit (probably wearing a flight jacket with a B-17 pin on the lapel and shoulder patch) flies even without wings, marveling at all the undiscovered mysteries of the next life. And at the gates of Heaven arrives a dashing now young-again pilot who stands before his maker and offers in full and honorable fashion, with a click of the heels and a crisp salute:
First Lieutenant Samuel C. Gundy
Reporting For Duty As Ordered, Sir!

-Gregory S. Gundy, April 23, 2010

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Consolidated In Dahlonega

Camp is all set up in Cleveland, GA at the LDMA Loud Mine property. But after two days of setting up and settling in, rain was in the forecast. Last time we were here we visited the Crisson Mine, and we stopped by there again today. The stamping plant is always fun to see but maybe not as much in the pouring rain. So because of the rain and because we didn't see it last time in town, we went a couple miles over to tour the underground lode mine at Consolidated Mine. In its heyday it was the largest (22 feet wide) gold laced quartz vein ever discovered- anywhere! With the downpour happening outside, torrents of water ran down the path into the mine and rushed below our feet as we descended. It just served to make the exploration more intense and vital. Tiny bats rested upside down on the dry spots on the otherwise wet ceiling as we worked our way downward.They have had a representation here from the time of its origin I am sure. Ore carts, and drills that stopped working a long time ago lined the pathway and spoke of times passed.

At the end of the path down, an air drill, still hooked up and begging for a test run stood ready and waiting. The guide fired it up. The sound of the several second blast showed full well why miners lost their hearing early on in their ususally short careers. We took a turn holding onto the big gun. Talk about a blast from the past. The experience was a great one. We took the tour with Stonewall Gene and Julie, so the company was great too. At the end of the tour we got our little paydirt bags and headed off to the troughs to pan out our golden riches. We skipped the panning lessons under the circumstances. In fact we wound up standing at the troughs helping others recover their gold from the pans full of sand. Chicken Deja Vue! Consolidated gold is fine gold obtained by crushing white quartz, so the gold needs to be separated from what looks like white sand rather than from the customary black sand that placer gold is usually found with. The basics of panning are the same, but there are some nuances that make it a bit different. It was a neat new experience. Daddy like!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Look! Cows, By Cracker!

A winter in Florida that really was a winter in Florida is drawing its last breath as Spring arrives and we make our last "event run" before starting the trek north for the summer months. From our base in Thousand Trails, Clermont, in the Orlando and Kissimmee area, we decided to step back into the days of old Florida, to the days when the state was free range cattle land, when cowhands were cow hunters who cracked whips to drive cattle from the scrub brush of the state to the market run by the Spaniards at Fort Myers. Character actors tell the tale of the Crackers as though time had not progressed to the present. And in the shade and shadows of the giant live oaks draped by Spanish Moss, Old Florida lives again in the time machine that exists in The Cow Camp at Kissimmee State Park. Very enjoyable.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Easter Chick?

Ever wonder if those of us blogging from Florida this winter were telling the truth about the extreme (for Florida) cold temperatures and bitingly raw winds? Well as March ends and April begins... the weather begins to yield to warmer temperatures and southern comfort is restored to the sunshine state. But the evidence of the cold is still with us. Here in the sandy camp of Thousand Trails, Orlando (actually in Clermont, Florida), the Easter Chicks are not the typical little peeps that you find huddled under a warming lamp in the feed store. Nope. They are the rather large chicks of the Sand Hill Cranes. Why would this be proof of anything? Because the normal reproductive cycle of the cranes usually sees them flying way north before breeding. Flocks by the thousands actually fly from the deep south all the way to Alaska to have their young. That Florida in winter felt anything like early spring in Alaska speaks volumes about the weather this winter. But strange as it may seem, this year at least, Florida is the breeding ground of the Sand Hill Cranes. Yet another piece in the puzzle of Global Cooling?

But while the chicks are not yet ready to take to flight, the hot air balloons are. And a fleet of eight of them (they were low enough that the heat blasts to warm the air inside the balloons seemed to be right outside our open windows) drifted over this morning fairly early, while the morning was still gray and the wind still. I caught a picture of the last of them as it drifted off over the trees on the horizon. It seems that getting out of bed this morning just didn't feel like all that great of an idea. Oh, well!