Creek Jots 14 October

Part of their beauty is their transience

❉ Leaves from the maples, out my window at a faint first light, are silhouetted against blue-gray, link-colored sky, are falling angled on a wet south wind, toward the house, like ragged birds coming to feed, to rise no more.

❉ It takes so little to please me. I whooped when I saw my first Monarch down here in the valley (they wisely migrate up higher over the ridges where the winds help these wisps of will wing west). All three were on the mums. They stayed for a while, then spiraled up into the warm kettles of air; they ride the currents as if they know what they are doing.

❉ I’m happy to say (with details TBA) that I will be speaking (with digital imagery enhancement) at the Westlake Library in Hardy, over on Smith Mountain Lake. This is a part of the country I have never visited, though I have some writer friends from the area I’ve met at events in Rocky Mount and Roanoke. Date is November 12.

❉ The two new hens, Rhoda(2) and Blanche(2), having endured their week in the pen, were turned out the past two days. The first, they shied away under the spicebush just outside the enclosure. By yesterday, they’d grown bold and crossed the creek. They’re still having some bird-brain moments at close of day, seeing their house right there through the chain link, not quite getting it that the indirect route through the gate is their only access. So for now, getting them put up is kind of like putting the toothpaste back in the tube.

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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. During last year, when I was thinking of retiring, I collected postcards that came from Christiansburg Printing (??) that had photos on the front of Floyd County through the seasons on the front. Turns out they were your photos.

    So, now I’m two weeks retired and living out past Willis in a spot that looks like those postcards. Doing some writing, trying to settle in, and came across your blog, your amplify posts, and thought I’d tell you about those postcards.

  2. Amazing to think that you could be seeing Monarchs that originated in New England and are on their way to Mexico!

    I used to have some chickens that were less bright than the average fowl. I had to use bread crumbs to train them to go through the little hatch to get back into the hen house, otherwise they would all pile up against the outside of the little shed and cluck away in frustration.

  3. Glad to hear about the hens.

    I always like to know what’s happening with the hens, chickens, and of course, Tsuga.

    Give that dog a bone!! 🙂

  4. Sigh….. say hello to the Monarchs – they left here some time ago, Fred. We’ve already had killing frosts so our veggie patch has been turned over and the roses have all been put to bed for the long cold season.

    The geese passing through are “way up there”, can scarcely be seen or heard because of their altitude. I wish the herons would follow them – there is little or nothing left for my favorite bird to eat here now.