Strangeness on the Moors

I don’t know what I intended from my walk up the steep ridge behind the house. It was so foggy when I set out that I almost turned around right away for fear of quickly becoming lost.

But something drew me higher, farther and farther from any familiar landmark in these woods I thought I knew well, the more strange and disorienting for the thick whiteness in every direction. Up was, at least, still up. I would eventually reach the crest.

Eventually, after hours and I don’t know how many miles later and hundreds feet higher than the house, the forest gave way to an open glade.  The sun by then had burned away most of the mist and shredded the wet haze to occasional gossamer wisps.

I found myself walking cautiously into an opening where it was clear I was not the first to go. I had the notion that there must have been moonlit evenings when many gathered in that place–for what unimaginable revelry or devilry? IMG_3054gargoyles670I am at a loss to explain the wizened totem-trunks and roots, many of them dragon or gargoyle-shaped, tentacled and clawed, leering- menacing or playful- whimsical, their shapes shifting with the light as I walked past.

But there’s more. Tomorrow.

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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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