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Getting to Ohio from my home in Virginia was interesting. I drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains and headed west into West Virginia. I noticed the crispness of the mountain mist as the sun rose. Traffic was light and the miles quietly passed by as the sun headed high in the sky.

Late morning one forested area north of the highway caught my attention. I noticed large swaths of trees in distress, actually defoliated. Trunks and bare branches formed large spindly rectangles and I wondered why. I had heard about woolly adelgid, attacking eastern hemlocks, (Tsuga Canadensis) and Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana) in the eastern US. I saw firsthand the infestation of this small aphid like insect on hemlocks in NW CT. Native to Asia this aphid like insect is lethal to the hemlock.

When driving at highway speeds it was difficult for me to tell what type of tree to understand what was happening. But I do know that are forests are stressed and vulnerable to attack.

The West Virginia highway had narrower mountain passes. I enjoyed the views where possible and appreciated the mountain ridges close and in the distance. On long stretches I pulled out my Woody Guthrie CD, a tribute and collection of some of his most well known songs that I enjoy. (There is a centennial celebration of his work across the country this year). Familiar ballads describing the plight of the common man from California to NY on railroads and back roads of America inspired me to sing and appreciate the voice of this balladeer and gifted storyteller as the miles rolled by.

Soon I came across a coal mine plant whose structures lined the highway near one major town. I have never visited or seen a coal mining operation. I caught a few glimpses of the magnitude of such an operation. I remembered the stories of folks who worked here, the dangers and the tragedies.

Slowly I made my way into Ohio crossing a unique suspension bridge over the Ohio River. This secondary road followed the river  where I saw two huge smoke stacks rising up in the horizon spewing plumes of grey smoke. Soon I traversed by the actual electric power plant. Metal, transformers, towers and stations grabbed my attention. Huge, rusted metal frames imposed their presence. My mind thoughts pondered the issues of pollution, health concerns, destruction of environment and water.

Driving slows down on secondary roads. I had a chance  to look around and remember  to be grateful.  Somehow I feel that loving kindness and gratitude, sharing ideas and trusting we have all the creativity of the universe at our disposal will help solve the pressing environmental problems we face. I am grateful for electricity and for coal and the workers who bring both resources to us for all that we enjoy. We take it so for granted, right? Having lost power for four days recently I am keenly aware of our dependency. Though I enjoyed the darkness of night without light interference and the quiet of the night free of AC sounds, motors etc. When the power came back on I appreciated running water again and the AC. Temperatures  were 95-100 degrees

The Summer Solstice reminds me of the cycles of life. New paths come before us… lets be grateful. Enjoy your day. Judith

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