Tuesday, June 23, 2009  
   Volume 79 - Issue 25 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“Your company has actually raped these valleys. I don’t agree with your logging practices. And for the citizens, I hope they raise holy hell over it.”
- Councillor David Cole  
- on logging and road use 

 

Looking Back - John Kinnear“In the mines, they took the horses underground, where they would spend their lives. The horses became blind from living in darkness, and their lungs would fail...My father had been the horse’s driver. When he left the mine, he bought the horse from the company so that they might both see the sun and walk upon the grass.”

From “In the Fall”
by Jeffrey Lent

He stands quietly, ears pricked, eyes nervously roving for any trace of light. Any sign of life, any indication that his time of silence and darkness will end.
The fast flowing air is cool and carries a heavy load of fine floating coal dust.  The temperature is constant and as it passes over and around him inwards towards the face he swivels his ears, scanning for any familiar sound. 
But there is no sound except the ever-present creak of timbers condemned to resist the unrelenting press of the roof above them. Somewhere nearby water drips.  A small mouse scrounges around the entry looking for scraps left behind. All these sounds are familiar but small comfort to a soul desperate for companionship and the joy of sunlight.
The smells are always the same for him. Wet bark, a hint of sulphur and the dank earthy odours that are an integral part of this tunnel of blackness two miles below the surface.
And so he waits in desperate anticipation, shifting his weight from one leg to another, stamping his hoof impatiently. It seems an eternity each time he is left alone like this, waiting for the next shift. Waiting to hear the voice of the man who will release him from this cruel confinement where the senses are denied so severely.
Waiting to become part of a team again. Waiting to feel the towing traces strapped on and hear the gruff voice of his partner, the miner, encouraging him on to where the coupled loads of coal await his horsepower.
 
But for now there is nothing but deafening silence except for the occasional dull muffled sounds of an idle mine that in a few hours will come to life.
The complete and utter absence of light threatens to drive him mad. Not even the edges of his stall, just inches away are discernable. The rods and cones in his cornea that nature designed to gather and categorize light will eventually become useless to him. Like the cavefish his beautiful brown eyes will slowly atrophy and give up their desperate search. Someday nothing that passes through the lens will be perceived. The darkness of the mine will become permanent.
But for now he stands and waits, chewing on the boards of his restrictive enclosure out of boredom.
It wasn’t always this way. He has engrained memories of fresh green grass, warm sunshine on his back and the glorious light of day all around him. The companionship of others of his kind, unrestricted running just for the hell of it and the sweet taste of creek water on a hot summer’s day.
Now he is bound to do they’re bidding. To walk between the tracks down the same route day after day. He mentally notes the clink of chain-couplings between the cars tightening one by one, his only marker of how many he will be asked to pull.
He became a candidate because of his low set and heavy body and limbs. He was the right age and weight, was sure-footed and of even temperament. Had he known what was in store surely he would have turned and ran for all he was worth. But instead he followed their lead and walked down into the all- enveloping darkness, trusting that those who controlled him would do right by him.
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   Volume 79 - Issue 25 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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