For Art’s Sake


I don’t know what that means, really: art for art’s sake.

But then again, upon rounding the bend on the Eno River walk near Weaver Market in Hillsboro, the naive walker is stunned to find this massive five-tower twig edifice that has appeared like mushrooms on a wet lawn.

But why? Because art is what we do. What we must do.  It is somehow subsumed in the “sapiens” part of our species name, the Latin I take to mean not only wise but creative. Man: The paragon of animals indeed.

I know it made me happy to see it. It enriched my day. It elevated the common branch and bough to something simultaneously substantial and insubstantial, a thing unnecessary and whimsical. So thanks to the Stickworker for the gift.

I like this particular aspect of humanity at least, the bad taste for our kind still bitter in my mouth after reading “the news” this morning. Or any morning. Man: the only animal who blushes. Or needs to.


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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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