Journal ~ July 13, 2009

Let There Be Light
Let There Be Light

Morning, first light, windows up overnight against the uncommon chill of a July dawn. I’m drawn out onto the porch steps, legs stretched out along the tread, back to the railing. I watch the day unfold even before it has become anything more than a faintly lighter gray-blue through the weave of leafery and branches on the east ridge.

Slowed down in this way to the rhythms of the world outside, my own inner gears less  awhirl with plans and deadlines and the adrenalin of purpose, a different kind of motion becomes evident, bit by bit, and I calm in the wonder-gloom to the spatter of creek and drip of dew from last night’s cool passing.

Gray blue grades to faintest peach, higher up in the branches, then fades back again. The sun is rising, or so it seems. Still is still moving, my place on the front porch steps turns by some slight arc towards the Day Star.

Clouds like the skim of foam on the ebbing wave of falling tide pass relentlessly south, peach to gray to blue behind the ridgeline forest.

Three bats trace over and over the same horizontal orbit over the yard, under the maple, against the ridgeline sunrise.

Rising, ebbing, circling, the world is full of motion and utterly still. A bird, familiar, but one I cannot name, breaks silence, and the day is now open for business.

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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. Fred,
    Your description of this morning is so poetic and eloquent. Your gifts for prose and for seeing are stunning. I felt like I was sitting there with you. How blessed you are to live at Goose Creek. It almost sounds like a goldfinch, although I am no expert on bird calls. I just revel in the seeing and the hearing.

  2. Wish I had bats. Just haven’t seen that many this year, and usually there are two-three swooping about our backyard in Christiansburg. I worry about white nose disease wiping them out.

  3. Being a poet, Fred, I find your work beautifully penned. Your ease with describing what is just in front of you outside the door is quite worth the trip to your site. The picture is lovely….your words even more so.

  4. A beautiful description of a time of day that I seldom see, not being a morning person. You almost persuade me to set the alarm. Twice today I have read a piece suggesting closer attention to one’s surroundings. –Hmm, must be a message there.

  5. Thanks, folks. If there is a book #3 in me, it would be this kind of writing, perhaps chronological through the year, short passages not unlike the first two books, but more personal reflection-memoir-reflective and of a more prose-poetic language and centered or or taken from nature. We’ll see if my hands and mind last long enough to do it.

    Oh, and the bird has been ID’d for me as a Song Sparrow, thanks Seth and others for that.

  6. Fred-That was good. I have a copy of Robert Frost in my truck and you could of snuck in the middle of the nite and slipped into page 215 and I wouldn’t of known it.