Because it's there
Because it's there

It was a kind of safety valve behavior I suppose, though I barely remember the days when I had so much surplus energy that I set about finding a way to get rid of it so I could rest.

“Watch me jump over the hay!” she said and raced off for the pasture at dusk as the grownups sat on the front porch in the cool of the evening.

She made several passes across the dozen rows of raked hay before she felt less threat to explode in sheer exuberance and joy. How could she still have any energy left after a full day in the sun and water? What a gift to watch her left alone to enjoy a day fully her own.

She was actor, director, narrator and audience as she made up the story about which fish (and crayfish) and how many of each went in a certain bucket and why. She decided when they had served her secret purpose and could be released–only to be caught from the same sandy pool again several more times before dinner.

Hours pass, she is oblivious. Wet to the knees? She neither notices nor cares. Her plan for the afternoon, to do whatever comes next to mind; and the dog’s: to stand ready in the cold water for as long as she might need him.

A place near home. A simple game, she makes the rules. The easy flow of mind and hands. So little space to be for her a wilderness, so little time to be Abby’s eternal present, an afternoon lost in play. ~ from Better Without Batteries in What We Hold In Our Hands: a Slow Road Reader.

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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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