Peak of The Season

Virginia Creeper at Goose Creek Mill Dam, Montgomery County VA

For leaf-peepers headed up towards the Blue Ridge Parkway this weekend, you should be timed just about right in some places and maybe a week early in others.

The gentle inch of rain we got this week has helped to perk things us a bit, and at least so far, no blustery gusts have done what they can do in a short period of hours to leaves, dead and dying and holding on by a thread.

This morning, a tattered fog hangs over the pasture. I hope possibly the low ceiling will lift in about an hour as the sun just crests the ridge. Our hillsides are near peak, and even though I have many images from every year since 1999 when we moved in (the week before Thanksgiving) I can always use a few more, because every image on the memory card is one on the memory cells in my human software too.

This shot of autumn-variety Virginia Creeper was taken yesterday at the old mill dam on Goose Creek, a quarter mile before that stream meets Bottom Creek to form the south fork of the Roanoke River. As you can see, there is plenty of water passing over the old stone and concrete dam.

And I don’t think I’ve ever told you that I discovered just a few months ago, while researching the history of the old revolutionary era forts in our area, that Goose Creek (that bisects our land) was the old name for the Roanoke River!

I always thought Goose Creek was a name cooked up by one of the neighbors when roads were given names in the Emergency 911 era. But it stands to reason: we are within 2 miles of the very source of the western-most branch of the South Fork of what is now called the Roanoke River. This winding stream ends up on the Atlantic coast, near the early colony of the same name, apparently derived from an Indian name for the coastline and/or river: roonock.

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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. on a totally unrelated topic, I discovered a new ‘shop’ in the small town where I work which is devoted to green matters. Outside there is a large poster portraying someone hugging a tree. Perfect for me! I think I may have found some like-minded souls….