Slow Roads Are Hard to Find

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

It’s surprising, even with the miles of back roads and gravel roads and side roads in Floyd County how hard it is to pull over when you spot a photo-worthy composition. There’s somebody behind you; it’s a quarter mile to a place to pull off, and that is across from somebody’s house, but far enough away. But their dogs spot you and set up a fuss. And you move on.

I’m hoping to do a better job this year of documenting the passage of time measured in roadside wildflowers (and the insects that visit them) so finding those marginal places for this purpose is high on my list.

And I did find such a place, not very far from home–a mile or more of gravel road that winds down past a sheltered farm surrounded by rising, rounded pastures. A small sign near the road give the name of the owner and his wife. There’s nobody there. Seeing the name, I remembered: I visited this elderly farmer at the suggestion of a local minister. He has stories to tell, the minister told me. He’s quite ill, staying at his sons, and would love to talk–especially since his wife died a few months back. I recorded about 15 minutes of our conversation from his bedside, and never did anything more with it. Now I’ve been reminded, I just might.

This very common roadside “weed” pictured here is chickory, Chichorium intybus. It’s a pretty little thing, but not easy to photograph to show it off at its best. Chichory is a relative of endive and radicchio, and I’m surprised I never experimented with its edible parts–with the exception of imbibing it this very moment as an adulterant of the Luisianne coffee in my cup.

Note: this image hosted at Photobucket, as my server priviledges are in limbo as I make the switch soon to WordPress and a new stall for this pony.

Share this with your friends!

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.

Articles: 3013


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Slow Roads really are hard to find. I sometimes carry my camera in my car for days at a time, in an effort to get shots of the cows, fallen buildings, and other things that I enjoy seeing. As you said, too often I have to move on because there’s someone behind me, or I have trouble finding a place to turn around. I began carrying my camera with me because I felt that my slow road life was slipping away, and I hoped that “slowing down” to get good photographs would help. Sometimes it does.

  2. Slow roads are indeed hard to find. We used to live on one, the last house on a 5 mile pigtrail of a rutted dirt road, the road impassable beyond our driveway, any sound of an automobile would bring us to the window, as not many ventured out this far. We still live on that road, but it is now paved and is a favorite scenic drive of many folks who come to the mountains, can’t say I blame them, but I do miss the peace and quiet of that slow road.

    Love your thoughts and pictures as always, thanks for continuing to share with all of us online junkies.

    Have a great week!

    ~patchwork reflections
    ~memories in a jar

  3. Thanks for the ID, Fred. My daughter guessed chicory but wasn’t sure. It’s a beautiful wildflower, and I’m spotting it on miles and miles of roadway now. I found a very nice outcropping of it with a leaning black mailbox right in the middle of it. You’re right…wasn’t the time nor place to stop and get a picture, but it would have been perfect. I’m heading back out tonight when maybe the traffic isn’t as bad to try a shot at it.

  4. Hmm…maybe you already knew this, Fred. But I just learned this evening that chicory folds up at dusk…well, that, or someone came along and picked every single blue flower surrounding that mailbox! It would be interesting to head that way in the sunshine and see if they’re back again or if those blooms just faded away. But, I’m headed out of town tomorrow and can’t check it out.