One Place Understood: Local Biology

This item is some three inches in length, to give you scale.
This item is some three inches in length, to give you scale.

So here’s one to end the blog-week: an unknown item of natural origin that many folks will have never come across.

Who will be the first to identify it correctly?

One notion that has occurred to me (when the Do-More devil is on my shoulder) is that I could pretty easily put together a “slide show” consisting of some number of familiar and unfamiliar objects from nature. A hundred  would not be beyond reach if beyond an audience’s sitting tolerance; 40 to 50 images with their attendant stories might be about right.

The reach could include wildflowers, ferns, mosses, trees, insects, spiders, and lots of somewhat odd details like this shot above. If you’re a regular here you have seen dozens of such shots and each is a story.

Beautiful (and other) Biology of the Blue Ridge: a photographic excursion into the bounty of living things from Floyd County, Virginia. Something like that.

This would be different than the “visual essays” I’ve offered over the past few years. I think such a program would be entertaining but also pleasantly educational. Not sure yet who the audience would be but probably the same civic orgs and friends of various libraries and maybe churches and PTAs?

The ultimate message would not stray far from my long-held conviction that if we are indifferent to the details of nature near home; if we cannot call our fellow inhabitants by name and appreciate their stories–then we will tend to be happily ignorant of and indifferent to the state of the natural world in our own back yards and around the world.

“One place, understood, helps us know all places better” said Eudora Welty.



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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. As you have already heard, I like this idea very much. Here’s some opinions from one voice only: 1) Keep the time of the prepared presentation to 45 minutes, max. If you want to talk about each slide for 2 minutes, that means 20 slides. (When we share our photography online, we limit to batches of 20.)
    2) Use mostly beautiful as well as fascinating photos. (Your backlit spider webs come to mind.)
    Yep. It looks like a magnolia pod, but I bet I am wrong.