On Keeping All The Parts

Sunrise StillLife
Sunrise StillLife

In the same morning, I ran across this statement by Also Leopold (a man about which more soon)…

“The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: ‘What good is it?’ If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of eons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”

…And then found this essay (recorded at the NPR station in Roanoke some while back–an essay that was in the final selections for the second book but mysteriously disappeared in the editing.) It sings the praises of those often unappreciated and seemingly inconsequential smaller cogs and wheels of our local ecosystem, the “beautiful insects of summer.” Click to listen, 3.5 minutes.

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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. Is that NPR recording from your book? It’s amazing!

    I finally made it up to Floyd yesterday (Sunday). Visited some of the farms and tromped around some fields. It was great to visit a place I’d been “introduced to” through this blog several years ago. And I have a feeling I might become a fixture–good folk, good food, beautiful place.

  2. Nice Fred.
    Being a Virginia expatriate here in New Mexico, I really miss lightning bugs on summer evenings.
    On the subject of Aldo Leopold, his beloved Gila is under attack by folks that see the wild as their personal motorized entertainment center. While I live in the Rio Grande Valley, the Gila is by far my favorite area in New Mexico; beautiful, magical and full of Southwest history. I am attaching a link which I hope folks will visit to try and stop the destruction of one of the last really wild areas of the lower 48.

  3. That’s a stunning photograph, Fred. And I really enjoyed your “beautiful insects of summer” essay. Although I must say, the gnats this year are driving me mad! 🙂