Legacy of Land

Shot from last August: Grand daughter Abby jumping the hay rows

My cup runneth over. While it’s not uncommon that I take on almost more than I can make space for, this time I’ve bitten off enough to push me beyond the rim of the cup.

The grand daughters are here. I’m traveling again next week. And deadlines are popping up like mushrooms after a nice rain (which we still have NOT had, only a teasing sprinkle yesterday afternoon.)

So here’s one I’m thinking about, and if you have ideas, send them on SOON!

The NRV Land Trust asked me to write a piece from a child’s perspective on land conservation, and include two pictures. (My day includes having the camera and two small girls outside a lot!)

So I’m working on this approach: A young boy of maybe 13 is staying with his grampa on the land his father grew up on. He’s appreciating the richness of the rural setting (versus his suburban back yard and house-upon-house norm.) He’s learning his way around the woods and fields, able to call a few things by name that his playmates back home do not know or care to know. He’s feeling the freedom of wide open spaces, learning the smells of country mornings, and getting some hint of legacy and appreciating the continuity that comes from the fact that the remaining 100 acres from the larger family farm will be there intact when he grows up and maybe has his own grandchildren come to visit.

I don’t know if this is going to meet the needs and expectations of the Land Trust (and also possibly a parkway-related organization) but I’m enjoying writing out of my usual first-person point of view. Deadline is 3 August and I’ve promised a draft a week prior. Shakin’ it here, boss.

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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. I never comment on blogs – but maybe I should. My kids and I have come to hear you speak at the B’burg library and enjoyed listening to your essays. We live in town, but have family with a 100+ acre farm in western PA. My own children just spent a week there (ages 7 and 9) and I know had the most wonderful time making the most wonderful memories and making connections to the land that has been in our family for more than 100 years. This visit the kids learned how to catch butterflies and identify some of them – and they each picked a tree that they can visit each time they go to the farm. I love your idea for the Land Trust – and it sounds like your idea is being flushed out this week with your own grandchildren.

  2. When we visit my inlaws in western Montana, my son goes ga-ga over GRASS. Not a whole lot of it in Tucson, and what there is? Painful and harsh. I have now moved to a townhouse complex where the common areas have grass, and “going to the grass” is his favorite thing every.

  3. I think your concept is perfect for a land conservation theme. They couldn’t have outlined anything better. I’m glad you are enjoying writing from a child’s point of view. As a non-writer, I’m totally impressed that it isn’t like pulling teeth. Have fun!!!

  4. Sounds great. Go for it.

    Can you somehow work in a dog, also?

    Every boy needs a dog, especially romping around in wood and field….


  5. Your scenario happened to me just this summer, and for the first time. My 13-year-old granddaughter, born in Milwaukee and now living in Nashville, visited me for a week in June. She’s a conservationist at heart. (She encouraged her family to begin a recycling program before curbside recycling began in her community.) She was comfortable here, helping weed the garden, hanging out clothes, going fishing, visiting friends who have much bigger gardens than we do.

    One thing I found interesting is that at home, she and her family are plagued with allergies. She was very worried that she would have a harder time breathing comfortably here than in her climate-controlled environment at home. Not so. She did great, and left thinking maybe she didn’t have allergies after all.

    I hope your 13-year-old boy character gets to go fishing in an old farm pond. That was one of the highlights of my granddaughter’s visit.

  6. Land Trust! I suppose reading your blog is one of those serendipities that comes when you need affirmation! Love the story of the boy and grandfather – 13 is perfect age! Happy writing!