"I don't know what we're going to do if the mine closes." The woman's voice sounds strained and tired through the phone. "I'm going to have to find a job, and we may have to cash in our retirement fund. I guess we'll move if we have to." I hadn't meant to pry. I had just called to remind her of her daughter's peewee basketball practice that night. But in a small, western town, you can't help but run into the lives of your neighbors. Like everyone else in town, I had heard about the fire in one of the …
Get Grist in Your Inbox
Paul Larmer is the editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News, based in Paonia, Colo.