Sunday, January 23, 2011

saving home

If you know me very well, you know I am not a Hoosier. I am a Kentuckian. If you hear me complain about Indiana, it's because I say it's ugly. I love the people I know here and I know this is where I am supposed to be, and I love it here for those reasons. But in winter when the snow is melted and all you see is brown mud fields or when it's a beautiful day and I have to drive forever to get to what feels like decent hiking, perhaps this will help you understand why. This is the main street where I am from.
And this is a picture I took two summers ago of the street where I grew up. That was my house on the right. How far do you have to go to be out in nature here? Maybe down the street. Indiana can't top that. I found the rest of these pictures online, but I know these places without needing to read captions. I moved when I was only nine, but this is home to me. Both sides of my family are from the same little wrinkle in the mountains.

This is Black Mountain, the highest point in Kentucky that hugs the town where I lived as a kid. This picture must have been taken from Kingdom Come State Park, which overlooks my Grandma's house. I once climbed this slope with my Grandma and her cocker spaniel to sit and look down on our towns from here.

We would cross Black Mountain either once a week or once a month to go to the "big" grocery store in Virginia. I remember this curve well. It's near the top of the mountain. Whenever I get the chance to visit my Grandma at her house, (which isn't very often since it's 8 hours away) I try to drive at least part of the way up the mountain. This is where I learned the difference between right and left, as my dad navigated the turns. One of the last times I visited, my aunt warned me not to drive all the way to the top to see the Virginia side. (The Kentucky-Virginia border is at the top of the mountain.) She said it would break my heart. So I didn't go. I like remembering it the way I remember it.

Today, one of my cousins posted a link to an article that showed the Virginia side of the mountain.
This is strip mining. It is where they strip the mountain down -- of trees, of rocks, of itself -- to rake out strips of coal. Words that come to mind are: rape, pillage, mar, destroy, greed, and instant gratification. I don't want this to happen to my hometown. If the picture doesn't tell the whole story, just think of what this does to the water that currently filters through the mountain! And how quickly this can be done. And how it can never be undone. Not even if the trees grow back years from now. Mountains don't look like this. At least they shouldn't.

So my aunt made a facebook event to encourage people to write the governor. The State Division of Mining already issued a permit to strip mine here. That has been put on hold pending study by the EPA. The article said the decision would end up on the desk of a man named Leonard K. Peters. If you read this and are outraged at the state's decision to destroy this part of our country (and it truly is a national treasure, even if it is a small one. I can go to the Muncie Public Library and check out videos about this place. PBS has done documentaries on it...) please write to Mr. Peters at the link above and the governor of Kentucky here. I'm doing whatever I can to protect this place. Please join me.

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