Friday, February 24, 2012

Wood and Steel

Haiku My Heart
February 24, 2012

Each week, on Friday, we gather to write Haiku straight from the heart. We share with each other both the haiku and the spirit of friendship as we visit each writer's blog home. Join us by visiting recuerda mi corazon.

Stacks of wooden bones
Death of a community
Change of direction
These are the skeletal remains of the once vibrant ore docks at Ashland, Wisconsin. Prior to 1965, these docks saw Great Lakes shipping traffic into and out of the Ashland port at the Southern tip of Chequamegon Bay. When the steel industry died in the mid 1960’s, this dock ceased to be used and has stood rusting and decaying since that last 1965 shipment.
The ore dock at Ashland, WI

When I moved to Ashland in 2005, the dock was under scrutiny and this hasn’t changed much since then. Whether to tear it down or preserve it for historical value is always under consideration, but what really stops the conversation are the costs involved with keeping it or demolition. Either costs millions of taxpayer dollars in a geographic area that hasn’t seen prosperity for a long time, not just from the current economic downturn in the USA.

I was in Ashland recently and took these photos. I am always amazed at the remains mankind leaves behind. Along with the ore dock was the lumber industry and their remains can be seen in numerous places along the magnificent lakeshore as well in the form of log ends sticking out of the water like someone's beard stubble.
Remnants of the docks from a once vibrant working community along Lake Superior's shores in Ashland

Now, some corporation wants to tear off the top of the Penokee Range, a long ridge that runs from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula deep into Northern Wisconsin, where the mining company says there is enough iron ore to mine for years to come.
Wooden bones

Funny how that is. The old ore dock has stood idle for 47 years, but now they want to mine the nearby Penokee and create all these wonderful economy healing jobs. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. Why is the ore that has been there for centuries all of a sudden valuable?  How will polluting the water from such a mine and the subsequent damage to the Bad River Indian Reservation’s wild rice beds and fisheries, not to mention the general water pollution to the entire North Central Wisconsin and Eastern Upper Peninsula Michigan coast of Lake Superior, be worth the promise of a few jobs? Why is the worth that has been sitting there for all these years of value now?

Log structures from the working docks of long ago stay preserved under the cold waters of the Great lake

Why is what's under the topsoil suddenly more valuable than all these years before? Why are they tearing down the ore dock and promising new jobs and economic growth from an industry that has died long ago? 
Shadows playing amidst the old ore dock structure

As one arm of government argues who is to pay to tear down or maintain a large unused ore dock, some of the Wisconsin House and Senate are fast-tracking a bill to allow a new mine to start operation. It just doesn’t make sense to me at all.

Still, these stacks of wooden bones make for some interesting photography illustrating the ravages of man. Is the price of polluting one of the last sources of fresh water on the earth worth the risk? It pains my heart to think about it.

Asbestos laden waste tailings dumped into the Great Lake Superior at Reserve Mining's Silver Bay Plant

Peace to all


A Bit of the Blarney said...

Well done! Most informative post. It does cause one to consider what in the world they must be thinking about! Or perhaps they should think again! Wishing you well! Cathy

carol l mckenna said...

contemplative haiku ~ My way of answering your post is that it is the 'human condition' and until each person and the government become responsible individual and stay in the Middle Way not grasping at greed ~ we will continue on 'raping the earth' and damaging ourselves. Taoism indicates there are 3 treasures ~ compassion, conservation and humility ~ So many are chasing after 'things' ~ stuff ~ I did when I was younger and still have to keep myself away from the 'carnival midway' ~ It is all bling for the most part ~

You are a Wise man also ~ have the best in the day ~ namaste, carol (A Creative Harbor) ^_^

Marit said...

Your story is one that triggers me... same things happen in the Netherlands and i remember the 'double feeling' I had when, as a child, my dad took me along for a 'photo day' on which he took marvelous photos of 'remains' and told me what was - is - was about to come... I learned a lot from him (still do!) and your blogposts make that I will give him a call tonight... just because... thank you Joe!

Unknown said...

It doesn't make any sense.
And what if it did.
Then we would be like they...I am thankful for the way I think, mindful of God's gifts. I can't think on the actions of 'they' too much. I get too sad.
Your photographs, Joe, and your Haiku are wonderful. I like thinking of the waste as 'bones'...seems so appropriate, since our bones will someday be waste too.

Dawn Elliott said...

Your haiku is wrenching today...I find the pictures of the ruins so beautiful, but the rest of the story is so sad. I would like to see the ruins preserved and the jobs created in the preservation of the earth through clean energy. Another great post!

rebecca said...

after watching noelle's animated "poetry of trees" and now bearing witness to these splintered bones of once magnificent gorgeous ancient trees.....
my heart feels the weight of such destruction.

as i read your perfectly crafted haiku i too am struck with the "remains" mankind leaves behind.

i once cruised a large length of alaska. as we sailed hugging the coastline we were able to view a landscape far north of any roads or means of transportation. the land we sailed by was uninhabited by mankind. it was astounding to see such a pristine coastline where man had never walked. the profound and perfect beauty brought me to tears. i remember thinking that ANY one on earth who would be in the position of creating legislation that effected our natural world should be REQUIRED to see the profound beauty of the unharmed earth first.
thank you for your thoughtful and important haiku may it inspire a deeper sense of responsibility in us all.

Kim Mailhot said...

My tender heart hurts for our Earth so very much. I still dream of a world where we see with our hearts and souls, rather than our pockets and need for power. I don't think I will see it in my life time but at least I can build little pieces of it in my own small ways.
Hope, peace and love to you, Man.

foxysue said...

I scratch my head with you Joe, I feel your pain too, why must the earth suffer on account of man and woman's greed?

As Kim says our little seeds of peace will sprout!

Ms Foxy x

Lea said...

I too am deeply moved by your haiku and pictures... Our culture has a hard time with death, I have a hard time with death... If I stand back and look at your pictures, I am most aware of the bones and how this painful moment of seeing where our misuses of the earth has brought us. It feels as if it is forever... yet what will be in the frames of these pictures in another hundred years I wonder? There is great beauty here, in your steel and wood, pictures and words... thank you.

Jeannie said...

I suppose the worth of mining is dependent on the value of the commodity vs the cost to get it.

Like the tar sands here. Back when I was in school, there was no way to get at the oil economically. Now they can. Or it's viable because oil costs so much. I doubt they count the cost of pollution and disruption of the environment.

People are stupid.

Mel said...

Beautiful photos. Sad tale.....

I don't have answers.
Just hope for a different today...every day.


gma said...

Peace to you as well Spadoman. Such beauty in these sacred bones.

Lorna said...

Sacred bones, gma says, and I guess I would like to think of them that way. All the angles and shapes are definitely sacred geometry. You ask many questions as we all do about so many things. It's about politics and money. Here's hoping your local environmentalists are researching and protesting.

Lenora said...

thank you for the education.. well described haiku

Noelle Clearwater said...

Joe dear,
You are a friend to the Great Mother and you see her pain. You see the waste that Man leaves behind and yet your eye cannot help but create something beautiful from it because that is who you are. Your heart is compassionate and wants to protect the land and the water, those resources that nurture us and preserve our lives in so many ways. We are so unmindful of the planet and only see it as something to "serve" us, rather than as someone to respect. We continue to objectify the earth in this way--politicians conveniently using worn out structures that have no life left in them to try to create jobs that will help them win votes but do nothing to improve the lives of their constituents or the environment. I think it is all a temporary fix from the way you are describing it. It certainly doesn't sound like a long term solution. Thank you for sharing these special places of which you are always mindful.
Love and Peace,

Spadoman said...

Thank you everyone for the comments and for your visit to Round Circle.

I can get political, but the subject of this post should be a concern to everyone. When we poison the water that we all have to drink, we're killing ourselves. Doesn't make any sense.

I know jobs are desperately needed. There may be a good argument of why we should start mining iron ore again, but deep down, I know there is another way for communities to rise without selling out the beauty of our land and the sustaining water that is becoming in increasingly short supply.

Thanks again.


tami said...

moving and disturbing post - i can only hope we will wake up to the damage being done to our Mother and begin to heal rather than hurt.

peggy gatto said...

Profound, time to think about what is happening!!