The wood, burning in the stove sends a slight crackle into the room.
Steam rises invitingly, from the coffee cup, setting on the hand carved
wooden table. It is a frosty morning in the hills.
The mountain holds a treasure, coveted in this region. One that propels industry.
Harvesting this dirty fuel, is never more grueling, than on cold mornings like this one.
The holler is sparsely littered with similar scenes for several miles. Hard
men, ready themselves to burrow into the open earth. Men who drink hard,
swear hard, and ultimately die hard, swing a hard pick underground.
Their women, most of whom are too young to look so broken, cook
bacon, eggs, and cathead biscuits. Packing lunches of bologna and
sassafras tea. They wake children for school, who will drop out and go low.
Little luxury in this hardscrabble life. Miners huddle at the grave’s mouth
an unspoken prayer, recited by each in unison. Dear Lord, let the timbers
hold, so that I can come back tomorrow and dig the Appalachian gold.