Level Paradise and Put Up What?

I mentioned when we were lost in the south Pittsburgh suburbs that “Those who claim the mountains of southern West Virginia need to be leveled to provide building space should go visit the Pittsburgh area.”  Today two studies were announced, on the extent of mountaintop removal in central Appalachia, and on the sites that have actually been used for economic development.  Details here.View from Dolly Sods

If you have been to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you know what these mountains are like before.  If not, this picture does not begin to capture it.

Over 500 mountaintops have been removed, mostly in eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia.  During, they look like this.

Fewer than one in ten of the 500 mountains has been used for economic development:

“The so-called beneficial development projects include: industrial parks (4); oil and gas fields (3); golf courses (3); airports (2); municipal parks (2); hospital (1); ATV training center (1); county fairground (1).”

Most “reclaimed” sites look like this, at best – from a mining industry brochure on mountaintop removal mining:

Since the topsoil has been removed, it will no longer support the rich mountain forests it once did, and the streams fed from the runoff do not support the life they did, even far downstream in the valleys.  Over 100 miles of streams have been buried so far and the land is ruined for timber production.

Please read the reports, and consider contacting your power company and your federal legislators and telling them that we must find another way to keep the lights on.

Theme Days in the Garden

Every day in the garden seems to have a theme, driven by the weather, the season, and sometimes by chance or whim.  Spraying poison ivy must be done when it is dry and going to stay that way.  Pulling weeds is easier after a rain.  Second-year garlic mustard needs to be pulled before it blooms, but the seedlings are easier to pull once they are larger.  This time of year, the vegetation is so enthusiastic that contemplating all the weeds at once is overwhelming.  Concentrating on just one – pulling all the thistles, or dandelions, or dock, or curly dock, or garlic mustard – helps.  Of course, each weed requires a slightly different style, too, so you can get into a rhythm rather than switching constantly.  Garlic mustard is very satisfying because it can be pulled up easily with no implement at all.  Dandelions pop right out with the implement I call a weeder and Robert calls an asparagus fork.

Last week, we started resetting the half of the stepping stones from the back porch to the back gate, which we hadn’t gotten to last spring, although we had uncovered them.  I was digging out all the dandelions and plantains which were fast replacing the grass along the path, when our neighbor across the street came by and we talked for a bit.  It got late, it rained, and days later, I couldn’t find the weeder.  I was sure that was the last time I had it, but we both walked the entire yard looking for it.  Grocery day came, we still hadn’t found it, and we stopped in Big Lots looking for something else entirely.  There were weeders, these with a built-in lever, so we got one.  I tackled the plantain, which has covered huge stretches, so much that a plantain theme day is not “All the plantain” but “All the plantain on the left side of the slope under the red maple.”  The new weeder is much better for plantain, because of the better leverage, but I still wanted the old one because it is great for sticking in deep to find grown-over stone paving and stepping stones.  We got back to finishing the back path, and there, right where I thought I had left it, but under the leaf mulch along the fence, Robert found the weeder.