8/16/2008 It is like tundra almost, riddled with intersecting cracks, shades of green, brown, and black, with pink and purple floating in the grease on top of the standing pools around two trickles of water that once were a lake. There are villages of turtles with glum faces, basking in the mud, trudging to and through what little water remains. The geese and ducks are gone, and I wonder if I have waited too long to focus my binoculars on what I have always suspected were eagle aeries in the distant treetops. This landscape is desolate, breathes loneliness and destruction. The wind is the only thing moving besides the flies and dragon flies, and a bird or two. I wish I had my camera.
When I was a little girl, this place was full of mystery. My grandmother told stories of people whose cars swerved into the lake and the horn blaring while they slowly drowned. I wondered what else was hiding in its quiet waters. I was never allowed to swim there but on warm summer afternoons I did not care what dangers awaited me. I longed to dip a toe or finger into the murkiness, explore the mysteries and stories the lake held; how many cars and bodies were entombed in the darkness? Images of the soft, slimy bottom circled in my visions. The lake’s secrecy bade me to its shores
Each spring the geese and ducks mated rabidly, and soon there were babies following in single file behind their mothers; little fluffy-tailed wrigglers, struggling to catch up, their tiny bodies rotating gently in their reflections. Quiet, unfriendly Asians and local fishermen stood patiently on the boggy banks, daydreaming while an underwater population passed, and sometimes bit.
9/25/08 Today large squares of grass-seed-laden sod are blanketing the vastness, with big brown sheets of burlap along the threads-of-water-banks to stop erosion. The two little rivulets are growing because two rock dams have been constructed downstream, and there is a smell; that indescribable corner-of-an-alley-in-the-city, where almost sewage meets almost garbage and an infinite array of organic decay. The little turtles are treading and burrowing in the water that is building in the gullies. The big turtles are gone.
There is promise of new life slowly emerging onto the baked-dry expanse; a pale green fuzz like baby hair. I saw a few geese nibbling along the cracks the other day, and heard a kingfisher and watched a great blue heron standing still on one leg the way they do, as though riveted by some recollection. Somewhere, beneath the arid wasteland, a history waits to be discovered. Memories laid down of untold years, passers by, travelers, seekers of wisdom, children, dogs, birds from all over the world, and about a million turtle biographies. I am sure that a precious stone or relic is tumbling aimlessly through the upturned piles of Georgia red clay, or a barely recognizable copy of an original historical document, or novel.
10/03/08 They have begun to dismember the old bridge. It is one of those rusted cast iron structures you seldom see these days. The bridge sat over the old weir which is no longer running; the ducks used to paddle against the current by the dam. It must have been a great fishing hole. Beyond the dam a short waterfall boomed into the shallow creek. I could hear it from my bedroom when it rained a lot. That bridge was a conduit to the next set of homes that began the “great lakes” region of Demorest. I wonder if it will ever re-open.
Evolution alters the familiar circle of life for all of us, regularly. We cling to the past, take photos, paint pictures, write stories and fondly reminisce, aching for that familiarity. Without the changes, would we appreciate what we have, or used to have? There are many who say this new creation in the place of the former lake, a “wetlands,” will be healthier and more natural than our man-made lake of yesteryear. I suppose it is so, and I like what I am seeing, but I want those sunny memories intact. I want more pictures, more conversation, more tears. I want to spend a day in the past knowing what the future holds; would it ever be enough? Would I be able to fully understand how precious the moments were if I knew where they were leading?