Autumn, Undressed

Bank of the James at Eagle Rock VA

Just beyond this line of mostly small sycamores, the James River runs south–wide and bluff-edged.

In summer, this would have been a very different scene. The leaves that have fallen from the trees now liter the temporary high-water puddles. Light from the  late-afternoon sky and riverbank beyond–and not just the variegated trees of autumn–reflects off the still water.

I miss the leaves for a while. Then I grow accustomed to the trees undressed and a more expansive sense of place you can only know in winter.

And when the leaves come to take over again, I resent it a little as a kind of visual intrusion.

To everything there is a season.

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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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