Donner does not like to be photographed and
looks very unhappy.
After a long, healthy and happy life Donner breathed his last breath on March 16. 2015. He was born in August 2001. He was a great friend and companion and is sorely missed.
Jack Grebinger is an Artist and an Author.
He lives in an Exceptional Value Watershed in the Oley Hills with his dog in a 270 year old stone cabin that is now called Oley View Cottage.
His dog, Donner, was the inspiration for a story that became a novel about a boy and a dog in a Pennsylvania Dutch Family that lives in the fictional Eden Hills of Pennsylvania. The book is finished and Copy Righted. He is now looking for a literary agent and a publisher.
Jack was born in Berks County and grew up in Adamstown on the County line. He graduated from Kutztown University and then went to University of California at Los Angeles and earned an MFA.
All of the paintings in the house were painted by Jack. He mostly works in watercolors and acrylics. He created a sketchbook full of pen and ink drawings to help him write the book. He also hopes to do the illustrations for the book.
He donated 20 of his paintings, all of local historic sites, to Pike, Oley, District/Preservation Coalition which were sold to help buy a conservation easement on a property in Lobachsville to save the pristine groundwater from being pumped out in unsustainable volumes for use by a bottled water company, Wissahickon Springs.
The easement was purchased. The water table was saved.
The efforts of the whole community of many concerned people was key to the success. More about that can be learned on the POD/PC website.
Oley View Cottage, above, is cozy and bright. It sits on an acre of lawn. The rest of the land is a managed meadow and forest which provides habitat for native animals and plants. The cottage is haunted and was the model for the Dawty House in the novel.
The sun room is to the right, part of the living room is below. The living room is
The art studio is upstairs under the dormer windows. Jack likes the nice short commute to his work space.
Above is a spring fed fish tank created by friend and neighbor, Jeff Sweinhart.
Jack admires Beatrix Potter for her talents and concerns for the environment and the conservation work she did in her country. Lake District National Park has preserved the natural environment and fostered the cultural one. She left a spectacular legacy for the world.
He hopes that his book and art work will provide him with the means to buy land and conservation easements in the Oley Hills.
"It would be wonderful, "Jack mused, "if the Schuylkill Highlands, of which the Oley Hills and Valley are a part, could one day be a vast park where people can live in their houses, farmers work on their farms and still be surrounded by nature and people in the towns and cities could look out their windows and see the park lands. It would be great if they could walk to the park lands as people can in the Lake District."
Four miles away, in early October, under the big cloud at the foot of Spies Hill lies the historic village of Oley. Behind Spies Hill is Mt. Penn.
The same view toward Oley at the end of January.
Spies Hill, also called Church Hill, because two Spies Churches are built there, can be seen just right of the setting sun. Mount Penn is the long ridge to the left of the sun. The city of Reading is just west of Mt. Penn, twelve miles away.
Donner does like to be photographed with Erik Uden who is George Kramer's grand nephew.
They have been friends all of their lives.
Erik is the model for the boy
in the book.
Jack across Mill Road from
the township park, Weidner's Grove.
Photograph by Jane Uden.
Jeff Sweinhart, left, was the model for the young father in the novel, Joshua Heartline. The vintage tractor might appear in the second novel. This part of his farm was the inspiration for a location in the story. Jeff and his wife, Debbie, have a large conservation easement on their property. That inspired another part of the novel on how the fictional family preserved their farm over the generations.
When Jack was a boy, his parents read the The Tale of Peter Rabbit to him and his brother. The neighborhood children had the same story read to them by their parents.
"Whenever any of us saw a wild bunny in a garden we'd call it Peter," said Jack. "We all cried bitterly after someone saw a weasel kill one of our Peter Rabbits."
After his childhood, Jack learned that the author of that charming book and many others, Beatrix Potter, was an avid scientist and nature lover as well as a talented artist and writer. She used much of the money that she earned from her work to buy and conserve land in England's beautiful Lake District where she lived.
The lands that Beatrix Potter saved are now within a national park. She is credited with preserving most of the land that is now England's Lake District National Park. The park also contains Dove Cottage, the home of William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy. Their friends and visitors included Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charles and Mary Lamb as well as Sir Walter Scott.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oley Hills Alive . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Jack acknowledges the enormous benefit of the World Wide Web for the ease of access it provides to vast amounts of information and to Wikipedia for its encyclopedic gathering of knowledge and constant updating of facts.
Doing research for his book led him to many Wikipedia articles that were very helpful in writing his novel and added considerably to his knowledge in many other related areas of interest.
The Oysterdale Valley which contains the Oysterville Creek and Watershed.
White lilacs once bloomed in October at Oley View Cottage.
From the deck of the cottage Jack can see Monocacy Hill and the Hopewell Big Woods which are also part of the Schyulkill Highlands. They are in the blue line of hills in the distance behind the gold colored hickory tree.