Creek Jots, Mid-July

â–¶ Our pasture is cut for hay, finally. We’ve been anguishing over the fate of our hay since last fall. Just this past weekend, it’s done. So for a few days, we’ll have a “Sound of Music” meadow to romp in, a place to watch the fireflies rise at their appointed time. We’ll take a couple of lawn chairs over and sit at dark-fall and watch the stars revolve around the North Star high above our house, spinning dizzy circles of time while the crickets trill the warm air and lull us off to sleep.

â–¶ I intend (he said) to do a better job this year with a fall garden. This will be some easier this year, because with my hand situation in the spring, I got to gardening late, so there are empty spots to start kale, fall peas, turnips and such. Make me accountable: ask to see pictures in September.

â–¶ Love thy neighbors. I do. Yesterday at a gathering of “gardening and wild foods” types, one of our number brought a five-gallon pail’s worth of lambsquarter seeds he had harvested and winnowed, and he gave to all who wanted a portion. I took about a pint, to share with local neighbors who have more ‘disturbed land’ where this highly-nutritious “weed” can get a good start. Makes a great spinach-like green! And at our local 4th of July event down the road, it was gratifying to have a conversation among folks from this part of the county who celebrated the wonderful potpourri of nature-smells. Breathing deeply in the country, if far enough from the henhouse, etc, is almost always wonderful, and I’m glad I’m not the only one to appreciate that fact.

â–¶ Just remembered a few 4th of July shots on another memory card. I wasn’t terribly excited about seeing what I’d captured, because I had to use the Nikon D200 in less light than it can handle very well. I think this was shot at ISO 800, and it’s grainy as heck. But it was a good evening while the grand daughters were here. We invited a few younger friends to share the smores, sparklers and hot-dogs–some of which never made to little-girl mouths before being swarfed by large but friendly dogs.


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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. S’mores, sparklers, hot dogs, fireflies . . . oh how I love those things. I did make hot dogs for my husband and I on the 4th, and some pretty fresh corn, and we walked a mile or so to the yacht harbor to watch a nearby town’s dinky fireworks show, so that made for a pretty satisfying old-time 4th, here at the beach in Los Angeles County.