Author Commentary on The Results of Polar Bear Research


Growing up in the 1960s and 70s, I spent a lot of vacation time in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Even as a little guy, I could spend an entire afternoon paddling around a lake. White pines and tulip poplars towered over the bank. Lake Summit was such a huge place, it never felt crowded. I was always discovering new places.

photos: Tom Haynie

The environmental dynamics of lakes also interested me. For instance, a dozen streams fed Lake Summit from high up in the pristine mountains of Pisgah National Forest. Some of the streams flowed into the Green River before entering the lake. They all flowed southeast across the body of the lake, then exited through a sluice-gate below the lake, continuing the fifty-eight mile long Green River again. The water  from the bottom of the lake is always cold as hell, which tubers and kayakers love.

In college, Lake Summit was a great place to meet people my age, but it also led me into some hairy situations and sexual rivalries that caused me a lot of grief. Not surprisingly, I exercised poor judgment on a number of occasions. I would not have done it any other way, in hindsight.

I had never engaged a professional photographer before. My parents had used a photographer for Christmas family pictures but did not involve us children in the planning. My photographer set up his equipment, and I was self-conscious the whole time. I stood, I sat, I smiled or grimaced, and felt pretty disappointed when I saw the results. Tired out, I plopped myself on the bench in the living room. As so often happens, the photographer took one last picture, and it was the one I used for the book.

 

  photo: Doug Deas