Some Have Gone and Some Remain

Almost Ten Years Later...
Almost Ten Years Later...

Could it have been only Monday of this week we spent one afternoon and the next morning with friends from College? They had been to Goose Creek once before. I found the picture of them sitting on the front porch, June 2000.

We were barely moved in then, Nate was nearing home in his 1000 mile walk from Bar Harbor. Buster was underfoot, not quite full grown. I hadn’t any inkling then of writing anything but checks. They found both books at Mabry Mill coming up, not knowing. We’ve not kept up very well, nobody’s fault.

John and I were in the same class in grad school in 1970, we couldn’t quite remember which: maybe Vert Zoo II. I’d missed lunch and had no money. I only knew John because we’d chatted some on a recent field trip. I learned he, too, was an old married man, and lived like we did in student housing.

I was bold enough to ask to borrow a dollar to buy something to eat. He had exactly one dollar. I swore I’d get it back to him right away. That evening, we called to ask if we could come over with “The Dollar” and they sat on their stoop, waiting for it. No small deal back then.

I’d forgotten, but John said he’d never forget. We’d gone out on a research field trip for John’s PhD thesis, collecting some particular mussel from some obscure branch of a creek I’d never heard of. John tossed out an empty sardine can–a method of trash disposal he confessed he learned from his father. In the course of conversation at that creekside spot, I walked over, picked up the sardine can, and without saying anything, handed it back to him. He got the message. And apparently, he never forgot it.

We talked about how important it is to teach by example; how one influence in what is obviously the right direction is sometimes all it takes to change behaviors and habits for the good. And we talked and talked and talked. One of the better unplanned pleasures in a long, long while.

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. How cool. what memories…..time marches on….and we are glad for it…but it’s always great to have wonderful memories of friends, family, pets, houses, and such. It’s even better when you have photos of times past. I often regret that as a kid, I did not carry a camera with me all the time…..but thanks to my Mom, a shutterbug, I have a great collection of times past, mostly black and white.
    I can remember my Dad tossing drink bottles out the car window, and even then, as a kid, I would gently say something about litter………..remember the Indian, in the tv commercial, shedding tears, as people drove by, throwing out litter on the highways………??? that image always hangs in the back of my mind…….
    I love the photo you have here…… have such a beautiful place, really love your house……..

    Take care…and have a great weekend…..Hey Ann !!!

    give Tsuga a bone……..