Boredom, Blight and Beauty

Goose Creek

The title here came first as I sat mulling over the possibilities this morning, and so a wildflower closeup or some other oooooh-ahhhhh image would have been more appropriate perhaps, but this is what I selected from the recent Lumix shots now up at Flickr.

This landscape, maybe because I’m spending so much time OUT THERE these days, obligate slave to the grass to be mown and various other vegetative chaos like the overgrown road bank just beyond the corner of the house. Today will be my third go at that, and She is complaining about the clutter to her view out the upstairs window because of the small sassafras, pines and spicebush piled up now on Yucca Flats.

Boredom, from the fact that I have checked off most of the top-priority to-do items and have no great obligations on the event horizon. This time of year, something pops up to fill the speaking calendar, so I’m content to wait. So maybe less boredom than freedom from deadlines.

Blight is the name of garden game. I can’t stand to go out there now, after taking such pleasure in the healthy 7-foot tomatoes  now covered with green fruits mostly gray-brown with late blight. We may get not one vine-ripe tomato this year, and that was such a high priority for canning.

And yet…I go out on my sorties with the clippers, chain saw or mattock–and my camera around my neck—and almost always stop to admire, to immerse, to engage.  One aspect of beauty is very personal, and this creek view holds beauty for me because it holds meaning and story, and in that, significance to more than the eyes.

This clickable view (16 x 9 format set in the camera) is taken from our new beach-front property–a considerably-widened creek front area just below the house. The flash floods of July 3 took several feet of the pasture as we watched from the front porch. We’ve somewhat raked the area flat and clean, and its a nice shady spot to sit in a lawn chair with a cold beverage. Gnats, no extra charge.

But what you should glean from this picture is not just a pleasant landscape view. This five-foot geological cross section is a history lesson as well.

The top two feet of the pasture is sand with small rocks under a layer of plant-supporting top soil. That has taken maybe a thousand years to accumulate.

The bottom strata consists of larger rocks and boulders of various parentage that tell the story of a much more violent ancient era of flooding that carried massive amounts of rock, by way of Nameless Creek’s predecessor, down from the much higher peak of Blue Ridge rock, now largely lying in angular rubble as you see here, or as sand, mixed with mollusk shell fragments on an Atlantic beach.

There will be time enough yet for wildflowers and the insects of Autumn that always seem to take center stage photographically this time of year. It was in 2002 I think that I was identified as the “bugman of the blogosphere.”

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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. The Lumix has its failings, but I own it now, so will make do and work to exploit its strengths instead of wishing it was other than it is.

    The image dimensions option and the macro-capabilities are among my favorite things, as is the fast glass.

    I’m thinking in a month or two, its use will be as automatic as the Nikon D200 has become after using it regularly for years.

    And I’m far more likely to have it in my pocket than to have the D200 banging me in the chest.

  2. Argggg – Late Blight!!! Wiped out all 60 of my tomato plants in a week, then went after the potatoes. Looks like Floyd has it bad – there was a case confirmed in Floyd as early as July 20th. I did manage to salvage enough tomatoes to put up 35 pints of salsa and several sandwiches, but will get no sauce, soup, or juice this year. Really disheartening, but at least the garlic, onions, peppers, corn, and other crops are doing really well.


  3. “Bugman of the blogosphere.” I bet you like that moniker a lot. I always enjoy your macro photos. I enjoyed the geology lesson today, too. I never thought to look at a mere creek bank to see what I could learn about history. The huge, exposed rock formations in the Southwest, yes, but never a creek bank.