The Least First Blush of Spring

Forest Morning / Digital Photo / Fred First / Floyd County, Virginia
I’ll have Ann’s usual schedule today: up and outta here by quarter til six, off in the dark cold. Destination: WXBX in Wytheville, our hometown for twelve years, and the setting for more than a few of the pieces in Roads Remembered section of Slow Road Home. I’ll be done with that live interview by 7:30, and hope to find the choicest local Greasy Spoon Diner for hot coffee served in an infinitely-refillable heavy white mug, bacon and eggs, toast and jelly, and a good magazine.

Then by no later than 9, I’ll need to be back on the road to I-77 south to the Parkway and 13 miles west to the Blue Ridge Music Center. The local trail club (chapter of Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway) have constructed several miles of trail, but until there are two footbridges in place (30′ x 4′) the trails can’t be opened to the public. I’m hoping to write a bit about the current needs, in hopes that private, corporate or government funds will be forthcoming.

From there, I’ll find Chapters, the local bookstore in downtown Galax and see if I can leave a few books shelved there. And finally, I hope to meet up with a couple of folks who were part of our Wytheville gang back when. They owned the bookstore on Main Street, a favorite gathering place, until B decided in his early thirties that he wanted a life change. He left for medical school when I left Wytheville for PT school. Chances are, he’ll be too busy seeing patients to do more than chat briefly on the phone. But it will be good to renew old friendships.

The picture above, from last week–a grab shot on the return leg of our morning walk. I want another shot at it, next time in RAW, on the tripod, and with the 80-200 lens. Man, I’m a sucker for backlighting! And here is where we’ll see the very first hints of spring: in the tinge of color that comes to the tips of twigs well before the weather warms. Against the dark blue of morning shadow, every trace of color shows up! And look at how different in form these two clusters of trees are–something you’d easily miss in even lighting.

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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. head to the virginia heights restaurant (790 west spiller st) for country ham biscuits. it’s our first stop when we visit family in wytheville, and we always take a dozen biscuits with us when we return to new jersey where, alas, country ham is an alien substance and good biscuits are hard to find.

  2. Enjoy your day over in my neck of the woods. Wythville…Scooters Slaw Dogs…yummm. You could have picked warmer weather.

  3. Thanks for stopping by your old work place. GREAT to see you again and I’m looking forward to the March visit. Regards to your family.