High Voltage: Danger!

Got a pacemaker? Picnic someplace else!
Got a pacemaker? Picnic someplace else!

This seems an appropriate image for the SHOCKING day we had yesterday. We’d already been jolted by sticker shock in learning the cost to replace all four tires (to which last week’s flat alerted us) AND replace the timing chain on the GCPRESS green Subaru that I drive.

The 1997 Dodge truck, meanwhile, sits at Lawrences Garage on Daniels Run for triage: can it be saved to run another 10 years for the sole purpose of bringing in the firewood? Cost of those belt and hose replacements, brakes, filters and such yet an unknown but not small anticipated expense.

Then, the cherry on the Red Velvet Cake of Life: Ann has a front end collision yesterday not 200 yards from the hard top and just two months shy of our tenth year of driving this road without an accident.

The damage is not apparent beyond the fact that the entire molded plastic cowl that holds the license plate and wraps around over the wheel wells is fubared. But far worse, the other guy’s ‘99 plymouth hit low and bent the frame just enough so the hood will not entirely engage.  I’ll have the adventure of driving down Bent Mt tomorrow never knowing from one instant to the next if I’ll have a view of the road out my windshield. I’ll be playing with bungee cords and duct tape later this afternoon.

But the good news: the Prodigal Chicken came home to roost. Yes, when Ann finally arrived home from the trip that sent her into harms way, the dog was so happy to see her arrive that I habitually released him at full rev from the back door, and from thence he burst down the drive in his usual fashion, rushing in a terrible moment of realization past the wife, down across the creek and toward the chicken pen.

Which was no big deal, I thought, his curiosity still high about these newcomers on his block. No big deal, I thought, until in a flash of horror I remembered that I had opened up the pen and the darlings were free-ranging just before they were running for their poultry lives.

The dog’s ego was inflated considerably by their terrorized and vociferous escape so that he stopped before doing any harm–at least to the chickens. I thought SHE was going to kill me, protective as she has already become of our new resident poop-makers.

I have the feeling it’s going to be a long three months until the eggless days when these four cackle-fruiting females go from the hen house to the frying pan and the dog and I become masters of our domain again. BahKAAAAACK!

The picture is from a powerline clearing on Havens Chapel road. I stopped in an unsuccessful attempt to photograph the flock of Goldfinches that were feasting on the thistle in the clearing. I had no idea those lines overhead crackle and snap in a most unsettling B-grade horror-film kind of way. It made me want to do my photography someplace else.

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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. Try being on top of a mountain under power lines and hearing them snap, crackle, pop! Sort of an eerie sound, isn’t it? Love the picture, though! And the dog and the chickens? Bet that was fun to observe!