Frozen February

January Barn / Southwest Virginia / Floyd County / Blue Ridge Mountains Travel
Yes, here is the same old barn, fixed in place for a hundred years, and different in every season.

Especially on freezing days when even creek motion fixed and solid as ice, there is an immutability about this place, a stillness though polar winds whip the bare branches of beech and oak.

This deep freeze is a final drawing in, a last hibernation, a false sleep. Buds swell unseen. Cells divide hidden in wombs of bracts and scales, ready with promise and latent with the translucent color of spring leaves and petals.

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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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