Front Matters

The same slow road, a different bend this time 'round
The same slow road, a different bend this time 'round

I suppose most occasional readers have wandered off to browse down other roads lately, one trick pony I’ve become since this minimum opus has overtaken me and these pages. For those few hangers-on, below, the latest version of some element of the book’s “front matter”–maybe it’s a preface, I dunno. Still sorting all that out.


Preface / Draft / What We Hold In Our Hands: a Slow Road Reader / ver 02-25-2009

The 4 a.m. excursion that has brought home these ninety-plus personal essays (and such) is an habitual armchair scavenger hunt, a kind of archeological dig or cultural anthropology field trip powered by curiosity.

It may seem an odd passion to set out daily and so early, even on weekends. It is my writer’s way of sampling the currents of the times, mine and ours.

Sorting these pieces, finding a pattern in the apparent randomness and chaos of everyday living has become a centering exercise to help me comprehend what it is that you and I together hold in our hands.

These stories and essays range as widely as do daily experience and the winds of my whimsy, worry and wonder. The collection is richly hyper-local, with accounts of living the rural life in the near habitat of home, a small dot on the map that is a microcosm of the Blue Ridge the southern Appalachian realms.

There are personal stories here, even some from and about our children, and about the action verb, aging, that I am coming to know better.

Here too, I share concerns as naturalist for the survival challenges faced by the smallest of our fellow companions that are important harbingers of our planet’s health.

We hold in our hands stories past and present, our values and beliefs, our hopes from common culture and experience and out of the same soil, water and air. We hold the fate of our children’s world and future.

This book of personal essays is a single grain of sand from a low, green mountain of human experience. It is a peculiar narrative of particular moments and dramas in one life, one family and one pleasantly-rural county and home place.

Throughout this eclectic assortment resonates a joy for living. These pages hold the subliminal hope for all of us to revisit with gratitude the shared blessings in our grasp–our here, our now, our known riches of the senses, of memory, of duty and relationship together in a common human family and story.

Share this with your friends!

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.

Articles: 3013


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.