Friday Nature Unknown

So what do we have here? Anyone? Have you seen this being before in your busy life?

Yes, yes, another curiosity placed for your observational pleasure in the Goose Creek Roadside Museum and Medicine Show by the Foolish Farmer of Erewhon

–a character who first appeared in July 2002, and who,  even more than a decade ago had come to think of himself  as invisible, so nearly alone and operating in a vacuum of fellow-feeling. Somehow, somewhy, he has persevered, nevertheless, more or less, all these years.

And here one more time , with no explanation why he feels compelled to do so, in faithful futility this Friday morning when so very few travelers bother to wander down to rush past the museum, he lays out yet another near-by creature.

He hopes beyond hope this found wonder might make you open your eyes, expand your reach,  expand your imagination to the possible; and more than that, to grasp the hereness of this amazingly real and tangible, knowable, loveable world at hand. Now. Here. Do you see?


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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. That spiky outside is familiar, but living in the West all these years has dimmed my memory. A horse chestnut?
    I hope you enjoyed my Alaskan rainforest vegetation close-ups on Smugmug. I wish you could see it with your own eyes someday.

  2. I agree with Kathy..a horse chestnut husk but, depending on size, it could also be a chinquapin (or chinkapin depending on local spelling) nut husk. Hehe…years ago, I had collected a couple of unopened chestnut husks and had them sitting on my coffee table. A few teenagers (and one adult) asked what they were so I mouthed off about them being abandoned porcupine eggs! It was amazing how they all believed my cockamamie story and asked if I was going to hatch them! Keep teaching our youngsters about nature, Fred, They really need it.

  3. Not horse chestnut or buckeye. They have smooth or at least smoother husks. That’s spiny, so I guess chinkapin, a relative of the American chestnut. (If only it *was* an American chestnut…)

  4. Yup. Chinkapin. Chinquapin. A friend gave me a hundred nuts back in 2002. I thought they’d all failed to germinate. My friend Lynn died in June 2003. Exactly ten years later, to the week, I discovered a surviving bush just behind the house in full flower. This year, I just missed the fruiting, and all that was left was the empty husk–with that strange cartilaginous interior.