>a mile high a mile deep


This is neither the Original nor the Belmont nor the Orphan Girl. It might be the Anselmo, but I am fairly sure it is not the Bell Diamond. My father calls them head frames, but my brother (the photographer) calls them gallus frames the way I do. Some in Butte, Montana called them orphan and widow makers because these frames were used to lower the miners down into the precious metal mines. A mile high and a mile deep is the claim to fame. All of them make for their own sort of ghost town. Mining for copper stopped in Butte some time ago. Butte’s open pit is now a Superfund site, but that is another story.
The Bell Diamond was lit a couple years ago in memory of the O’Keefe family and their ancestors, the Hickeys, who founded and named what was to become the world’s largest open-pit copper mine at one time. Our great-great ancestors deep into the gold and silver rush didn’t see a future in copper so the mine was sold to Marcus Daly for a tidy 1800’s sum.
I think about Michael Hickey. Back in his day he couldn’t have imagined what his discovery of this mine would become. What, today, do we undervalue? What can we not imagine? What in my own day am I overlooking?
Here’s a leap.
My brother, whose photos are in this post, met my kids (what do you call adult children?) and me in our hometown last weekend to eat a meal together at our parents’ house. He came because I asked. What I hadn’t realized when I asked was Butte (his home) was deep into its most celebrated weekend, The National Folkfest. And my brother and his family were deep into that three day celebration as well.
Mike and his wife drove three hundred (300) (Three Hundred) (three zero zero) miles round trip just to sit down for a two-ish hour meal with us. We cooked, we dined and everyone traded stories. We dropped food on the floor; we ate our dessert first. We played a cheating game of spoons around a big kitchen table. And then he packed up and headed back to Butte. 
There is much about today I suppose I undervalue. Probably, I move through some days misfocused. Perhaps it is this way for you as well?  I don’t know when I will see Mike again — we live hours apart and are, you know, such busy people. Ever since we hugged goodbye I’ve been thinking about shifting my focus, lining my valuable ducks in a row so as to better appreciate what is here and now.

About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

5 responses to “>a mile high a mile deep

  1. penjandrum

    >When I saw that first photo, I thought "that cannot be a real mine – look at the angle" but the second photo clarified things, and I consulted the resident engineer (spouse)who explained all. The act of your brother and SIL in driving all that way for family is magnificent, and so is the photo of the motorcyclist.Penny

  2. >That you are asking the question suggests that you aren't overlooking much. What an expression of love for your brother to join you for the meal, a fact about which you are obviously not confused. Because we are not omnipotent, we will misread some of the signs. We hope there will be time to set things right or to be forgiving with ourselves if there is not My Finnish grandfather was raised on Michigan's Upper Peninsula and went to work as a water boy in the copper mines when he was nine.

  3. >hi penny,enjoyed hearing your resident engineer understood- butte is not so easy to understand. it was so good of my brother and his wife- such a gift, really, to us all.the photo could be of him, as there is a similar one taken of him, but this one is of his son.hi marylinn-i like what you said about misreading signs. we do, don't we …i'm always relieved when time allows me to set things right. forgiveness is a timeless denominator.oh wow, your g-pa was a water boy in the copper mines! mine died when he was a young father from working in the mines out here. i would love to hear more.

  4. >It always seems to go that way with family. I only hope that the time I spend with my nieces and nephews is valued in time to come by them. I always try to give them something memorable to remember their day by, like looking for frogs or swimming at the lake or walking through the first snow…

  5. >hi kerry,i've recognized those values in your blog. i was raised in a very hands-on way as well. digging for worms, mending fences, looking for bugs under rocks. i do believe that the more earth touches us, the more grounded we become.

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