Barn Red

Appalachian crafts scenic travel mountains parkway landscapes
This shot of crystal branches against the barn roof might just be my last of the frozen months (he said, with mock confidence.)

The jonquils are poking up through the sodden ground beside the house where the top few inches of solid soil is finally on a slow, prolonged thaw toward spring.

Spicebush is dotted now with barely-swollen buds, visible in the early morning light that spills over the ridge about 8:45 now with the longer days. A month further along, it’s wispy, lemon-yellow blossoms will be so abundant along Nameless Creek that it will seem like a golden fog in the coldest part of the valley along the old rock wall.

Skunks are active again–a sure sign of warmer weather ahead. Unfortunately, their early emergence from hibernation is evidenced by those places where they didn’t make it across the road to their girlfriend’s house.

And where will I migrate now that winter is almost past? What will blossom from the dormancy of short days? What will grow from fallow hours of contemplation, from the season of mindfully tending the wood stove to hold back the cold, once that cast-iron beast is put to rest?

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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. great photo! it was warm enough outside this morning that i was able to sit on the porch and drink my coffee…although i still had to have quite a few layers on. hopefully, it’s not another big tease! but, i have also noticed some little signs of spring here in my neck of the woods…..