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The comfort of thunder and lightning

Final thoughts of coal country…

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Walking Coal Country. 7 of 7 // I'm back home now, sitting in a soft arm chair, coffee at my side, feet up on a low table. But I think often of this tree, the end of my walk through the Wyoming prairie. What you can't see in this picture is the heat. It was just after noon when I turned south from the Black Thunder Coal Mine and walked the last dirt road to the Little Thunder Reservoir. The temperature was in the low 80s, and the beating sun made me struggle those last steps. The tree was the first I had seen in 17 miles, since I set out early that morning from a ranch yard planted with towering cottonwoods. I dropped my pack and sat in the shade. It was not a full shade, as the olive tree's oval leaves turned and the branches bent in a steady breeze, but it was enough. That afternoon, the soft sky turned black as night, as unusually severe thunderstorms swept in with 50 mile per hour winds. I climbed inside my tent and braced against the ground as the gusts yanked at the nylon walls and hail punched the roof. Rounds of lightning directly overhead reached toward the prairie, and I was not sure in those moments: Would I survive? But that tent, too, was shelter enough. So I sit here now, back in my comfortable house, "Of Monsters and Men" playing over the Sonos, and I wonder about the scale of our consumption. I can no longer see the gaping coal pits in the prairie and the bulldozers digging them deeper. I can no longer feel the strain and shudder of the trains that carry that coal off to electricity plants across America. But I also no longer feel the earth beneath my back, nor the strength of the sun. And I wonder about what is lost as we harvest evermore fuel to insulate ourselves from the natural world. Are we more secure in our comfort? Perhaps. More alive? No. #travel #journalism #walking #coal #instaessay #wyoming #life #energy #powderriver #fuel #future

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