25 May 2018

Because They Are Able

The Place de la Concorde is one of the world's most impressive public squares.  The first time I saw it, however, I tried to imagine it "covered with blood," as more than one writer of the time described it, as members of the French nobility and royal family were guillotined.

I have seen other beautiful places with terrible histories.  Sometimes their histories make their beauty all the more wonderful, in much the way lilacs are (and smell even better) because they bud and bloom at the end of winter.  

(Last week, I clipped some that were growing in a lot near the RFK Memorial Bridge.  They're some of the latest I recall picking or buying, and their scent was all the more intoxicating because it seemed our winter simply would not end.)

All of this brings me to Elliot Lake, Ontario.  It's in the northern part of the Canadian province, above Lake Huron.  I've never been there, but the photos I've seen are enticing.  I hear that people go there for outdoor sports--or to retire.

Not so long ago, however, it was known as the "uranium capital of the world."  Just about any kind of mining is dangerous to the miners and the place being mined:  All you have to do is look at parts of West Virginia and Southeastern Colorado to know that.  The Elliott Lake area is no exception.  Though it doesn't seem to have suffered the environmental devastation some mining areas incurred, plenty of miners and other workers were injured, disabled or even killed while doing their jobs--not to mention those who got sick from uranium poisoning.  

Well, today some cyclists are going to set off from Elliot Lake and ride 170 kilometers to two other former mining centers in Ontario:  Massey and Sudbury.  What's interesting about this ride is that some of the cyclists were themselves injured or made ill on their jobs.  Friends and family members will ride with them, in part to support injured workers, but also to protest the cuts in benefits paid to such workers.

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