He met me at the gate pulling on the thin wire loop that held the barb wire and wood poles back.
As mean as it sounds the poles and wire looked in better shape than the man.
His dirty wool cap was rolled upwards providing more warmth to his bald head and his opaque glasses were riding a bit low on his nose.
It was a cold early November morning in 1983 and his canvas work coat was left open exposing three layers of shirts.
He looked content and I could only guess that his clothes out weighed him by about thirty pounds.
“I got a goat.” he said. “No use doing any chasing this early.”
As my car door opened, I grabbed his hand with a shake. Good god, I might have just as well placed it under the wheels of the old Dodge truck that sat just outside of the door of the shack.
Looking back, in fifty years I can remember three hands shakes that have brought be me to my knees; Stan the Iron Man; Shihan, John-Paul and the Miner’s. It was as much their penetrating eyes as the strength of their hands.
“Like a drink? Got some warming up on the stove? No coffee left, but some whiskey.”…god I love my job.
We talked about the mine and a bit of a town it once hand been as I looked around. Imagine taking your living room after putting it into a big giant blender. The only thing that was not broke splintered or had holes in it was the old cast iron stove he was sitting near.
No talk of family, just the goat.
He rose to head to the door for more wood and we went to the pile to break limbs off dead trees. You could see that his belt was cinched tight against his layers of clothes or it would have hit bone.
The miner gravitated to the shed where some yelping was coming from to where a small pup was lying in a wood bin with rags as the bed.
He was gentle when he pulled the pup to this chest and you could see the red soaked bandage on the paw.
“He got caught in trap. Why would anyone use such a thing?”
As he changed the bandage you could see that there was no fur, skin, just bone.
I asked if he needed to go to a vet.
“Nahhh, it’s doing better.”…it wasn’t.
There is a thought that photographs take a piece of the subject’s soul.
I like to think that the people we meet enrich the little soul we have.