Sunday, February 8, 2009

the first miner i ever met

Sorry for the couple weeks without a substantial blog post. I got caught up in work and being busy and being lazy and not having a computer at home.

I was walking to the office tonight to catch up on blogging, and as I walked out, a man happened to be walking by and drinking a beer. We were headed the same direction, so I said hello, and we walked toward the center of town.

He's worked in the West Elk mine, a coal mine 27 miles north of town, since the 1970s. Starting with his grandfather, all the men in his lineage had worked in the mines. He'd been to 'Nam and all across Asia as part of the U.S. Navy. I'll name this guy Fred to keep him anonymous. I feel weird writing about people in a town of 1500. Everybody knows everybody, and I'm beginning to know a lot of them too.

Fred's the first miner I've ever met, so I guess that'll bring a new dimension to all the folk songs I come across about coal mining. He said he works 12-hour shifts 4 days a week. 6am to 6pm one week, and the next week is 6pm to 6am. That puts my part-time graveyard shift at the T.V. station to damn shame. I'll never complain about that again.

Anyways, I just felt compelled to document my first (I think) encounter with a miner. They're not all conservatives haha. In fact, I think a whole bunch of left-leaning miners around here got in trouble for trying to form a union. I'm troubled by the concept of mining because it's unsustainable, but at the same time it's what's in place already, and it's what human beings depend on for their lives. I've protested against mountaintop removal because I think it's completely fucked up, but the only real solution I've thought up for our nation's energy is very general. And that is: we need to speak up about clean(er) energy, we need to study its human health impacts, and we need to develop the infrastructure for all of this. AND we have to do all that while keeping in mind that what we do as humans has an ENORMOUS impact on the rest of this living and dying world. I know that's a horribly general solution, but when I think of energy solutions, those are the basic principles that come to mind.

...which brings me to my next point...

GET OUTDOORS! whoever the fuck you are. A lot of natural places are getting torn up for our way of life, our over-consumption, our need for everything at all times. GET OUTDOORS and see nature and speak up about it. If you don't see it or if you don't have a connection with the outdoors, you ain't gonna do nothing to stop its destruction. And neither is anyone else.

I've been really fortunate out here to have really active roommates and friends, so most weekends, I've been able to get out and see the land. Here are some photos of last weekend...

This is the decent down the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. In 1 mile, we dropped 2000 feet. I crawled the entire thing back up. Probably the longest 2 miles of my life.

At the bottom of the canyon, we wandered around a bit. We were the only people that attempted this route this winter season. While we slid down the snow, I wondered if we'd get back up alright. We would also create these small landslides of about 4 feet in length. That was kinda scary. I'd imagine that us humans have caused quite a bit of erosion in the canyon from the miny landslides.

Today was cool. I randomly got certified to administer CPR and AED. Oh yeah, that's another thing... If the opportunity arises and it don't cost too much, go get taught how to do CPR, AED, and First Aid. It's all common sense, but it can really help your fellow brothers and sisters. Sure would've helped during that spate of hit'n'runs in Rhode Island last summer. You might recall seeing the video of that man that got hit by a car in the city. No one did anything for a good minute and a half.

I can't write anymore; I started listening to music. Here's some photos near my home.

This was taken a little ways up Steven's Gulch, a piece of Forest Service land about 5 miles from my home. I live down the hill from here in the valley between the mountain I'm standing on and the two mountains in the distance.



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