As I stared at the tall, sheer rock face of the long-abandoned quarry, in the middle of the Pisgah National Forest, my dad reminded me that one of my relatives had been a dynamite man for a quarry back in Maine many years ago. Whether he was deaf from the work, or simply unsocial, my father never knew. The long drills would bore vertically into the solid stone, and then he would carefully lower the dynamite into the channel to blast thousands of tons of rock and rubble from the mountainside. Most of the bores in the Pisgah quarry were high on the stone face at least ten feet long, irregularly spaced, but distinctively smooth interstices in the jagged profile of the mountain. The small paper birch trees were deceptively omnipresent in all of the photographs I attempted, and I was not satisfied with any of them–even as I took them.
As we began to walk on, however, I saw this remnant of a small bore, and I snapped a quick photograph of it, not thinking too much about it at the time. This hole was unique from the others. It was only a foot or so long, and its edges were not smooth like the channels higher up. The crevasses and splintered stone that surrounds the bore suggests that it was an afterthought, and the jagged striations within the shallow channel evidence a blast that wrought the uniformity from it.
This photograph is a microcosm of the quarry, but far more representative than a wide-angle shot of the sheared-off face of the mountain with its uniform bores. It is evocative and telling that the work was violent and loud and dangerous, but the quarry no doubt was necessary in supplying building materials for the early denizens of Brevard. Though Robinson Jeffers noted, as I have quoted before, “Not everything beautiful is pleasant,” I have to believe that the opposite might be true. The violence of a volcano or a blast-torn bore can be beautiful if the time is taken to appreciate it.
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