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Poisons

Walkin'

We went on our annual fall bicycle ride on the Kewash Nature Trail recently.
It was a gorgeous fall day. Sun out, temperature up and leaves in all their glory. On our half dozen or so rolls up and down the trail, we encountered a bunch of beautiful flora and fauna. On one early summer ride the periwinkles bloomed in all their blue and violet glory. On another, a huge buck with a splendid rack stood in waist high corn and watched us as we watched him.
The 14-mile, converted railroad bed connects the very small town of Keota, population 1,009, with the larger town of Washington, population 7,408. While there are longer and more scenic trails around, we find the Kewash to be convenient and picturesque enough to make it an annual trip. Besides the natural beauty, there are a few man made sights that draw the eye. The Crooked Creek Bridge is worth an extra gander, and the tiny gazebo in the town square of West Chester, population 159, makes a pleasant halfway stop.
There is one eye sore, however. About a mile past West Chester sits a huge tank containing, or mostly containing, fertilizer. By huge, I estimate 150 feet in diameter and 50 feet tall. That’s around a million square feet or seven million gallons of the something or another stinking like old wet diapers. According to Google Maps, the business owning the tank is Koch Nitrogen. Sometimes you can smell it before you see it.
And so grows the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, about 6,000 square miles of lifeless water at last count. Could it belong to Koch brothers and the deep pocket of the Tea Party?
Our destination was the Elmhurst House B and B in Keota. We’ve been there a dozen times over the past decade and one of our favorite pastimes, while pedaling, is trying to remember the various visits. Between Sabra and I, we can’t remember much so the conversation might be fun to record.
Marjorie, the owner/operator of the 30-plus-room mansion, has become a friend and we look forward to on the 15-mile ride, a good visit with an interesting lady.
Among the many of Marjorie’s fascinating experiences is a long list of near deaths. I’ve tried to catalog them all and thought the directory was complete, but I learned of a new near tragedy on this last visit.
Seems a decade or so ago, she decided the chimney needed cleaning and she took on the task herself. Taking advice from a friend, she climbed a ladder up to the edge of the roof of the three-story tall building and then up again the steep roof with loose shingles to the chimney. To heighten the degree of difficulty and danger, she toted a 50-foot log chain with her. When she made it to the top, she dangled and rattled the chain down the shaft to loosen the soot.
When she was finished, she was too tired to pull the heavy chain out so she let it drop, thinking she’d recover it in the fire place. But the chain disappeared and she resolved to solve the mystery the following day.
That night, however, she woke up violently ill and called the first responders. They were able to establish, fairly quickly, she was suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. But she had slept in the same bed for years, why did she get sick all of a sudden?
Both mysteries were solved the next afternoon. Although on her near deathbed a few hours earlier, our heroine got up the grit to look for the missing chain. Peering up the chimney with a flashlight, she saw it dangling from the broken exhaust pipe of the water heater, the one in a closet off her bedroom.
Do you think it’s too late for planet earth?