Goose Creek Journal 2010-01-28

Light and circumstance, perspective and timing. And luck.

Old Knees, New Tricks

We’ve lived here ten years, and yesterday for the first time, we walked one of our property lines. Why? Because for the first time, the line was clearly marked in a new survey by the landowner who recently bought the adjacent 120 acres–a piece we have for a decade referred to as “Lee and Minnies” and now have no replacement name since we have only briefly met the new owners. With the survey came the requisite clearing of brush for sighting the surveyors tools over the mountain goat topography that runs from the north property line on the high ridge behind the house straight down across the contours to the road. We saw views of our sliver of pasture that we’d never seen before. and we both thought of our little excursion as a great adventure–a quarter mile from the house!

Near is the New Far

Speaking of close to home, I was gratified yesterday to learn that it’s not necessary to travel to exotic places to capture images that have some degree of universal appeal. The Society of Environmental Journalists solicited submissions from its member journalists and photographers for a photograph that would be used for several organizational mailings in the coming year. We’re talking about a group of folks here who travel the world, and I understand that their submissions included volcanoes and exotic landscapes, crop circles and exotic plants. So I was shocked and pleasantly surprised that my photograph of our barn in a morning fog was chosen from all those submissions because of its connotations of peaceful connection to the land. This is a small thing, but it was a big boost for me here at the low point of a long winter.

Old Words, New Tricks

I am brainstorming a new project: creating a CD of excerpts read from Slow Road Home, What We Hold In Our Hands: a Slow Road Reader (see the sidebar for more info) and various other written bits. I would solicit musical interludes from local Floyd County musicians. I would look for a Floyd County recording studio to help me produce and package the product. I’d make it available locally, on the web, and seek outlets in the region of the Crooked Road and other Appalachians-focused travel destinations and locations. People seem to enjoy the short essays and stories, and I write in a speaking-voice rhythm more often than not. Heck, who knows: I might hope to break even on something like this! Anybody with ideas, chime in.

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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. What fun! to walk the line! Reminds me of my first property. It was 2 acres, one horizontal and one vertical. I walked the top line very few times :).

    I’m a musician and I know a lot of local musicians and recording studios. Let me know if you’d like some leads.

  2. It might not go platinum but I know that whenever I do hear you on the radio it’s wonderful. You do have a voice that’s very pleasant to listen to. Perhaps Tsuga might contribute a howl or two. Add some fine Floyd music and ya got a hit in my opinion. Can you have it ready by FloydFest time?

  3. That might take some doing, but I told Ann that Fall was my target, so you’re right: FloydFest crowd would make a good first wave of customers. We’ll see.

  4. It’s sort of a tradition here in New England, and perhaps elsewhere, to walk your property lines once a year, if not more frequently. I like to note the changes each year, usually nothing dramatic, but it kind of acts like a mental annual diary that helps me keep track of things. Winter walks along the property lines are wonderful as they yield better views through the forest.

    Nice post.

  5. I bet the steam rising from the barn roof captivated those editors. That’s as uniquie and dramatic as all those foreign shots. Congratulations on your photo being chosen by such a prestigious, important journal! When the publication is out, I hope you will link us to it.