Photo Album Holds Seasons, Memories, Nature

A Year Ago Today: Butterfly Watering Hole

A year ago, Tsuga liked nothing more than to flush a few dozen Tiger Swallowtails from their puddling congregations on the gravel road by the garden, leaping with them as they burst into erratic flight, only to play the same frames backwards a minute later and regroup on the same invisible nectar.

This year, there are fewer swallowtails than last, and no Tsuga. I can’t tell you how much I miss that dog–a high-fidelity, low-maintenance companion.

Gandy likes butterflies too, but you could tell on her first successful bite she was disappointed in their taste. Looking at them, you’d expect more lemon and licorice.


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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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