The Lull Between


There is first the feeling of let-down, the weight of responsibility removed that should let you float free–but for a while, habit of duty still oppresses, smothers, blames you for your sudden idleness.

Then comes the shaft of light breaking through to reveal empty space, unspoken for energy, free clear days on the calendar, “me time”. Aha!

You immerse yourself in all the things you weren’t able to focus on while the Big Event consumed you. It is exhilarating at first, this new freedom, until you become overwhelmed by what has been left undone. Even so, you slip in a few totally unnecessary, unproductive diversions–a few wildflower photos, a new widget for the desktop, a chapter in a neglected book found between the couch cushions, started pre-Big Event.

Then life settles in again, and another B.E. comes along and the cycle repeats.

Thursday we go fetch the grand daughters–the youngest in diapers and a whole new ball game. The intensity and seriousness of the cleaning frenzy imposed by the General on the single Troop here would make you think we were preparing to host the Bubble Boy. I say a little dog hair is good for their immune systems. But that’s another story.

Friday while the girls are very much with us, the SAWC writers meet the Floyd writers in town, and grudgingly, I’ll be allowed to shirk my grandfatherly duties to go party–which I will do with full and focused intent. But I’ll pay for it.

And finally, when we get back from taking the girls to meet their parents in Statesville on Sunday, the shaft of light will break through, the unpaid bills will beckon, and I’ll play with all the pictures taken over a few days of child’s play (and some adult play, too) on Goose Creek. And life goes on.

Image: mayapples unfurl, wet umbrellas, fairy parasols covering the hillside, glisten with spring rain

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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. You just nailed post-B.E. syndrome — I’m going through it now as we speak. Wish I could be there with you and the girls. Remind them they have a phantom uncle who loves’em, will you?

  2. Fred, keep up those “totally unnecessary, unproductive diversions” such as your photography! I love this photo of the mayapples.