Wednesday, June 18, 2008

After a week of quiescence, my on-line summer session students finally took off and started posting in the discussion forum. This is good for them, but suddenly I find myself actually having work to do. Some of the questions are really interesting and thoughtful and require equally thoughtful responses. It's what makes the whole educational process worthwhile, but it does take time away from other pursuits.

Also, did my major grocery shopping yesterday. Being in the-middle-of-nowhere this requires a 50 mile round trip to the "big Walmart in the sky" (not getting theological here, it sits way high up on a hilltop) and the large Food City both over in Wise County, Virginia. After years of thinking about taking pictures, I actually remembered to take John's camera and stopped for a few shots. The photo above is the view from the Virginia-Kentucky line, looking north into Kentucky, and shows reclaimed strip-mines (the non-forested hills). From the point that picture was taken I'm still 10 miles from home.

Closer to home, less than a mile and a half, one is treated to the view of an active strip-mine, mountain top removal site (photo below).


Qaro said...

It's beautiful!

...Is that the right response?

I know they are strip mines, but look, you've got hills to look at!

Sue said...

Qaro -- in an abstract sense, just as pictures, I agree they can be seen as beautiful. But as a functional part of the landscape they are a disaster. This is a region of heavy rains, steep mountainsides and very narrow valleys. Removing the natural forest cover from those mountains creates flash flooding -- lots of it -- locally. Forests hold rain water, and release it more slowly than grass or bare mountainsides; the rain is held on the leaves (think about pouring a pitcher of water over a head full of hair versus a head with a short military buzz cut) and by root systems. A heavy rain does not rush immediately into the streams and rivers in heavily forested mountains, but steadily over a period of days even weeks. Now think about the large urban areas that are down stream (e.g., Lexington, KY) that totally depend upon the rivers fed by the mountains for water supply. When the water rushes down stream from bare mountains, it comes as a huge "slug" of water than simply passes over the dams to supply urban water. But if the rainfall is spread out over days and weeks, it actually adds to the water supply.

Sorry, you probably didn't need to know all that.

Qaro said...

No, I did need to know all that. Thanks.

And the word verification below says "uracad". I'm a cad, how true but sad.

Jessica G said...


Very sad to see the mines.

Thanks for sharing.

Qaro said...

You know, I still feel really bad about this. I thought of you as I took the highway today. I passed the former site of our Jeep plant and it reminded me of your strip mining ruins.