Looking Back, Moving On

Five blue-sky days in May on the Olympic Peninsula

Hard to believe that, only two weeks ago this hour (time zone adjusted) I was on the plane from Seattle to Houston, bound for home.

I can still remember the pain, heard from the aisle seat, as the pilot advised travelers to look out their windows as Mt. Shasta, Hood and St. Helens. You KNOW how I felt about the two people between me and that view!

But as it turns out, I got into a pleasant conversation with the fellow seated next to me, a very cordial and articulate native of Cameroon, now living happily in Nova Scotia. From a family of accounts started by his father, he is selling his soul to the company store at this stage of his life, determined to become a partner, perhaps with the multinational firm he now works 70-80 hours a week for now, doing what needs to be done in this economy to succeed.

He was bound for central Louisiana, to visit his brother who works there (as an accountant.) I heard from him afterward. “It was very terrible, the heat!” I feel his pain, and am preparing to suffer the sensation, just trying to breathe the wisteria-flavored air, that I am being smothered by steamed pillows in Alabama. Sometimes, there is just not enough AhsTee.

Also I’ll mention that last week, we had in our home (with visiting Floyd friends) an 80-yr-old gentleman who had lived on the Olympic Peninsula all his life, fifteen of them in Forks. He was a lumber grader, and began his forestry work among the massive evergreens in the days before chainsaws. He has seen and done some hard work, and I imagined a book coming from his stories.

Ah well. Moving on geographically, you can revisit my recent travels at the Olympic Washington Smugmug gallery by clicking the image or this link. There are stories in each image, most untold.

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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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