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.
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.