Don Gould died on Friday, April 1, 2011, full of years and love. I went to tell the chipmunks, but they already knew. Here is my best Don Gould story, first told last April.
There are chipmunks in the yard. I’m glad of it, because after my neighbors Don and Audrey Gould moved, I was a little worried about the tiny critters. Don and Audrey had a whole chipmunk colony on their property. They didn’t name them or anything, you understand–they just fed them sunflower seeds and watched their antics and had a wonderful time.
I do not feed the chipmunks. It is all I can do to feed the Disreputable Duo, Miss Puss, and myself. The chipmunks must fend for themselves. But I am very glad that they seem to be managing.
I’m sure they miss the Goulds. One spring Audrey and I were having a cup of coffee when Don came in. He drank some coffee, and he mentioned that he’d seen some baby chipmunks. What? Well, yes, he said. He was out doing yardwork when one of the chipmunks started chattering at him. He tried to explain to the chipmunk that he had work to do, but the chipmunk wasn’t having a bit of it. Don must drop what he was doing and come with the chipmunk. OK. Off they went. When they got to the big stump in the yard, the chipmunk flitted beneath it. Don waited. Sure enough, pretty soon out came the chipmunk with the spring’s crop of little chipmunks in tow. The chipmunk made introductions, Don was duly impressed–his exact words were that the baby chipmunks were the cutest things he’d ever seen–and the little chipmunks were awed. That was the story. Audrey glared at him. You didn’t call me?!?
Off she and I went to pay a call on the chipmunks. We waited by the big stump, being quiet and polite. Busy chipmunks came and went. Pretty soon, out came the babies. They were, if not the very cutest things I have ever seen, pretty darned cute. It was the only time I ever saw baby chipmunks. Having the Goulds for neighbors was a great blessing in my life. How many people do you meet in this life who have that kind of cred with the chipmunk community?
There was, of course, a good deal more to Don Gould, beloved husband of Audrey, father of Sue. grandfather of Phil and Mark and oh joy great-grandfather of Leila. There was the veteran who saw hard duty in the Pacific during World War II, the wiry kid who came back a man who would never, for the rest of his life, be afraid of hard things. If it needed to be done, he simply set to work to do it. There was the storyteller with the glint in his eye, the quiet, gentle man with a gift for fixing things, including the broken places in other people. He was a good man.
Don and his beloved Audrey headed for a vacation in the U.P.
I think there is no better way to honor his memory than to get out in this place he loved and really look at it, just the way he did. So our little walk on Sunday has a new name: The Don Gould Memorial Walk. I have no idea what we’ll see, but all of it would have delighted him, and it will delight us. We will walk along the road past the chipmunk colony and through the woods, where we will see woodpecker excavations. Maybe we’ll hear them at work, too. And maybe, if we’re really lucky, we’ll see them swooping through the trees. I’ve been wanting to show you the photos Scott Thomas posted in A Hole in a Tree. The whole sequence is wonderful but the final one is something special.
See you Sunday April 10 at noon. Final route to be published later in the week.