Celestial Seasonings

August at last!

I shocked myself the first time I made this outrageous exclamation, maybe the second summer of living in Virginia, while I still remembered  all my preceding Augusts in Alabama. Before Virginia summers, I had always thought the words August and disgust were close relatives.

In the deepest south, when you turned July over on the funeral home calendar, you found no hope at all, knowing there would still be another few tepid, plodding months before you could walk out your door and sense that smothering, stultifying summer was losing its grip.

In the Blue Ridge of Virginia, evidence of this changing of the guard is everywhere, if you pay attention.  And I always do, because fall is my favorite, high-energy time of year. I don’t want to have the transition happen under my very feet with my senses turned to less important things like elections and hurricanes.

I once gushed that “if you blindfolded me and spun me around twice, and dropped me anywhere on the calendar, I could tell you it was August by the smell or by the sound of it alone.” I intend to drive that conviction deeper with each (far-too-rapidly-passing) turn of the page to the eighth month on Goose Creek.

The occasional scorching hot days we will still suffer in August and September I can almost enjoy, with the hope that heat and humidity will only be now and then burdens against a backdrop of shorter, cooler energized days and chilly nights.

Early on, though, you have to pay close attention and look, listen and smell the month ahead through the eyes, ears and nose of faith.

[This is an entry from upcoming book Floyd County Almanac, in progress, publication target Summer 2013.]

CAPTION: Night sky from town, August 25, 2012, with iPhone rendered with Adobe PixelBender  / Oil Paint filter. Click to enlarge on SmugMug.

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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. Lovely ‘painting’. I don’t like August in Virginia either but this year was different all that dreaded heat and a long power outage from the derecho made July HELL! Enjoy your transition to Autumn.

  2. And I will hold on to the last “warm” day as long as I can an ENJOY my warm, humid, no jacket, no fire as long as I can. You have turned into a Yankee. Remember your Southern roots! But I love you anyway —and the warranty has expired so there is no exchange, no refund.

  3. Love the energy of your post and picture. (And all while in this smothering, stultifying summer heat!) I’ll take this entry over The Old Farmer’s Almanac any day! 😉

  4. Thanks Jayne, I’m “determined” (defined as a fleeting dalliance, nothing more, these days) to channel my “one more book in me” in this direction–the month-seasons journaling (Part one) and (Part two) a moderate-length look at the maps that have charted and winds that have filled my sails to end up exactly here; (Part three) and a moderate-length bit about this particular here in Floyd County’s “progressive life in the slow lane” that may well serve as a model of localized agriculture and community for the next decades. If I could pull if off, it might have parallels to Leopold’s “land ethic” but for the Anthropocene.

    Something to do.

  5. I am so excited to learn that you have a new book in the offing! You have been keeping a very low profile about it. From this one entry, I think it will be a good one. Are you going to include photos in your Floyd County Almanac? That would be incredibly popular, I thinnk.

  6. I have hopefully settled on this vehicle and voice, and yes, Kathy, I will include images, but probably not printed in the book. Instead, I can create a parallel gallery of images that link from journal posts, essays and such in the book. Reader can follow images as they read, on their computers or ipads etc. I can either create a gallery or ramp it up a notch and create a pdf “coffee table book” for a small extra charge on DVD or downloadable. Still thinking about such things.

  7. “Model of localized agriculture and community” is a most interesting on on its own. I have to believe that you have more than one book in you, Fred!