Freedom Fields

The Freedom of Open Spaces, The Rush of the Wind on Our Faces

“…Trees that were short as I am now when grampa and gramma was young are huge. He said they are sycamores. They have smooth bark that looks like camouflage. I climbed up not too high in a big one that was a little tree when you were little. He showed me where one used to be by the creek that had your initials, but it was gone now. A flood the year before I was born took it to the ocean, he said. I like learning the names for things. Today we saw Queen Anne’s Lace flowers everywhere and Spicebush (It smells nice!) It makes them seem like friends, and next year when I come back, I’ll know them already.”

Excerpt from “Imagined Letter Home from the Family Farm”

See Also: Thank God I’m a Country Girl

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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. I really liked the simple phrasing of the explanation for knowing the names of things, and it meshes with my experience. Are you the author of Imagined Letter Home? I missed out on this if it was presented earlier.

  2. Hi Dumpy,
    I like the pictures a lot. I can’t wait for you to come to my house, it will be so much fun.