Sunday, May 20, 2012

Kansas (And Oklahoma) And This Morning's New York Times

There's not been much weather to comment upon lately, and I'm going afield this morning (Sunday, May 20, 2012). This morning's NY Times has two articles that I found interesting, since I've been through all three towns mentioned.

First, within the Book Review section, there is a review of "Wichita," a novel, by Thad Ziolkowski. The author throws around some lines from Rilke ("You are not surprised at the force of the storm - you have seen it growing." and "Through the empty branches the sky remains./It is what you have."), that are appropriate for the theme of the novel. The protagonist has just graduated from Columbia and his father expects him to head for graduate school. However, his mother, who is divorced from the father, suggests that he return home to the healing powers of the Plains, i.e., come back to Wichita. The mother has a start-up business; she runs a newly-formed, storm-chasing company. Finally, after a successful chase, the protagonist says: "To chase a storm is to play games with death, to indulge one's mortality and feelings of immortality." Sounds perhaps like some of those out there clogging up the Kansas roads on big storm days. (Note - I've only read the review, but the book is on the shelves of your local bookstore(s).

The other article that caught my eye is in the NYT Magazine, "Little House on the Catastrophically Damaged Prairie." This article focuses on the twin, nearly ghost, towns of Treece, Kansas, and Picher, Oklahoma, and the two remaining residents of Treece. The towns straddle the border in the far southeast and northeast corners of the two states. While this was once a boom area because of the lead and zinc mines. The mines played out in the 1960s and the mining companies either closed or went off to other places. They left behind a toxic mess, what the EPA once rated as the most contaminated area in the country. The photo above shows mine tailing piles that were dumped literally within a couple hundred feet of homes in Picher. I drove through these two towns once, and it was a somber and frightening experience. (I've posted my comments regarding the draft Environmental Impacts Statement for the proposed Rosemont Copper mine on - in case anyone is interested in what a Canadian company proposes to do here in southeast Arizona.)

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