Some times, some moments, this place, these times are so beautiful, achingly so, that it doesn’t seem real. Often those fleeting instants have to do with flowing water–such a blessing in its music, its purity, the magic of its genesis out of oceans, rains, underground rivers.When I slow down enough to listen, I hear voices there, laughter mostly, but have not learned the language. Not yet.

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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. Your blog is such a breath of fresh air. I need to check back here much more often. I’m glad that all these years later, you’re still bringing these life truths to folks like me, who sometimes need reminding.


  2. What? You certainly have learned the language – you speak it every time you post something here. Your words are as soothing as this rippling creek, or as exuberant as the New River. You speak moutain/creek/farm awareness – splendid!
    hugs from PA

  3. That reminds me so much of my beloved creek in WV from my childhood. I may have to steal that one for my wallpaper. Hope you don’t mind.

  4. Hi Trey, good to hear from you, and dis-connected you are–I can’t even find an old email address for you to which to reply.

    Ever get out to that special swamp of yours these days?

  5. I love your pictures.

    Having lived in your area for many years, I’m really getting homesick and can’t wait to move back home.

    In the meantime, I’m always looking for pictures of those gorgeous mountains. I have enjoyed yours very much.