Eternity in an Hour


I feel it, don’t you–the turning inward that comes in these shorter days? The earth and I tilt away from heat and light, from the exuberance of summer, and now past the decline of fall, I settle here in the womb of early winter.

What is it I expect to find in this moment, this one room, a single lamp beside me the only sun. Nothing but my fingers move, my mind wanders in place, I wait.

It is nothing less than everything I want to grasp. Its secret is in the passing present–infinity; in the space under the waiting palms of my hands, resting–the cosmos.

We are given so much wisdom in small things. Be still, and know.

When I browsed across this image of the repeating pattern of an aloe plant yesterday, patterns in my own archives came to mind–of the beauty and mathematical order of nature–this millipede image I’ve superimposed here, in particular.

I follow the spiral toward the center. Until spring. And then…

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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. Followed a link here about a poem exercise (from a fellow teacher-type person). I was amazed by the words and images here — my in-laws live outside of Floyd. They actually live in Check, across the street from Haven’s Chapel Methodist Church. They lived in Richmond for a long time, but my FIL grew up in Floyd County and they retired back home. Thanks for the taste of Floyd. It truly is a place like no other.