Eden Lost

Ivy up the Trunk

In Lost Mountain, Erik Reece tells a story of Eden lost. It's the story of Inez, Kentucky, a place that was literally called "Eden," but was later renamed "Inez" due to some mail routing problems.

As Reece points out, the important piece here is that the founders of Inez-formerly-known-as-Eden were inspired by its beauty, enough to name it after the idyllic, biblical Eden. Prior to this observation, he explained that Appalachia's forests are almost identical to southern China's. "Two-thirds of all the wild orchids in Appalachia are cousins to those in China," he says. Likewise, the two ecosystems share tulip poplars, mayapple, jack-in-the-pulpit, ginseng and ferns.

Today, the U.S. cousin is in demise in places like Inez. Mountains have been sheared off. Streams are dirty. In October of 2000, a sludge river came rolling down the hills like lava, burying gardens, destroying bridges. The disaster was thirty times the size of the Exxon Valdez disaster but, Reece notes, the New York Times "didn't print one word about it" for months.

One resident concluded, "We're just not quite as cute as those otters."

I'm not sure why the Times didn't step right in and say something. I know that until I met Blue Mountain Mama, I didn't realize that Appalachia was being trespassed.

Some people blame the greed of coal companies, but I think it must reach further than that. We're in this together, I should think. Now the question is, who is "we"? And how do we get out?

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Blogger bluemountainmama said...

it makes me so sad, sometimes i feel i can hardly bear it. but then i'll see a little glimmer of hope....and one of these little glimmers is other people discovering this atrocity and then sharing about it, too. thanks again, L.L.

there are so many deep layers, yes. but my great-grandfather and his family survived just fine here in the mountains without coal. they got here before the coal companies. and ever since they came, it's been a downhill cycle of poverty, greed, and dependence, keeping the coafields in a mono-economy. unfortunately, when coal is gone, the landscape is going to be so devastated, that it will be hard to get any other kind of industry or jobs to come in.... and count out eco-tourism, the industry that sustains other parts of the appalschians, because the local ecology will be destroyed.

i just hope it can be stopped before it's too late. we have to keep fighting....

8:48 PM  
Blogger TwoSquareMeals said...

I found you through Blue Mountain Mama. Thanks so much for posting about our mountains. I am really enjoying perusing this and your other blogs. I will be back!

9:04 PM  
Blogger denny said...

This is funny, I accidentally found this site while searching Technorati - It's a small world :)

Anyway - I love this article!

11:55 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Denny? As in Denny B? Good to have you here!

8:22 AM  

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