Animated: The Spirit of Life


The mechanics: This shot came from the parking lot of Huffville Methodist Church and was a still capture from a 15 second video inspired by the beauty of racing fingers of wind across the tall grasses. This dance between Earth and Air is one of my favorite visuals from this time of year.

The take-home: My first impulse was to describe this to myself as the “animation of the grasses.” And from that, I could easily follow the crumbs of this ancient Greek then Latin-derived word into all sorts of enjoyable and edifying webs of thought.

From Latin anima ‎(“a current of air, wind, air, breath, the vital principle, life, soul”), sometimes equivalent to animus ‎(“mind”), both from Proto-Indo-European *ane- ‎(“to breathe, blow”); see animus. Cognate with Ancient Greek άνεμος ‎(ánemos, “wind”), Old English anda ‎(“anger, envy, zeal”)

So a tidbit for you ANI-MALS (literally “spirited creatures?”) for your personal consideration this morning. Pay especial notice of the soft -edged fields of Floyd County this week as temperatures become spring-like. Again. The mowing has already begun in some places and pastures will soon become “inanimate”–at least in this special way that makes them come alive, if we bother to notice.

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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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  1. Our small field will be beautiful in the fall also when the grasses turn purplish brown and waves in the wind.

  2. I’ve had a special appreciation of wind all my life. I’m sure this reflects my upbringing on the prairies, where grasses moved hypnotically across the wide expanse. I’m sure I became a reflective person because of the hours I spent just watching and, at the risk of being trite, being in the moment.