For the last week or so, I have been waking up at 6AM unable to fall back to sleep for at least an hour. This morning followed form. I drowsily opened my eyes and listened to the wonderful sound of quiet. I could hear the birds chirping and the creek babbling. It was too early for Saturday morning traffic and the manchild had not yet stirred.
I curled back up into the blankets and closed my eyes. I decided to just listen and hopefully be lulled back to sleep. Then, I heard it. Off in the distance, not loud or close, but definitely there, “Boom! Boom! Boom!” Certain I was still somewhere between the waking and the sleeping worlds, I closed my eyes again. Exactly 15 minutes later, “Boom! Boom! Boom!”
I have been wondering what they were doing to the mountain at the end of the road, across from the post office, part of the view from my home. Over the course of the summer, I had been watching the trees becoming thinner and thinner. Fall came and the mountain foliage looked even more sparse. It wasn’t until the first snowfall, I could truly see how many tiered roads had been carved into the mountainside all the way to the top. My growing anxiety was suddenly turned up to eleven. It now made sense why the miles of railroad around the town had recently received a facelift.
It is not that I did not know when I moved here that it was a coal mining area. I did. I knew that I lived only a few miles from the infamous mountaintop removal of the Gauley Mountain in Anstead. I also knew that there was a bald, supposedly reclaimed, mountaintop mine at the end of the road. I was told by various county agencies that any blasting would be the closing of mines. The same line that I got from a coal company when I called about the public notice informing the town of blasting activities placed at the post office a few months ago.
During my time living here I have begun to research the town and state where I live. To do that, it is inevitable to encounter the, utterly frightening, effects of mountaintop removal. It is research that has left me in fear for my family and sad that the air outside my home may someday, if not already, be toxic to breathe. It is upsetting to stop thinking of my home as my lifelong home. Instead, I have begun to think of it as hoping to pay it off and move before they come any closer with the explosions.
Though I do not know exactly what they are doing the mountain I call Post Office Mountain, I am certain at least some of my anxieties are justified. I do not yet know what reason the blasts were heard, or why the trees have been hauled away, or why there was a crane seen for the first time on the top of the mountain shortly after the blasts.
I do know that I do not have a good feeling about it. And, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to like it. Regardless of what they are doing, as I lay there trying to go back to sleep, one question kept running through my mind. “Where else do you hear explosions like that from your home?”
Oh, that’s right. A war zone.
I suppose it is time to start documenting.
Note: When I wrote this post, I did not think about the work of Appalachian writer, poet, and performer Crystal Good. Though, I had seen the piece of work, it slipped my aging brain when I titled my post. Out of respect for her tireless work, I have changed the title of this post. Please take a moment to listen to her reading her poem, Boom Boom.