Things Are Looking Up

We were talking the other day about dog breeds and their temperaments. We  remembered that we had tried and failed to own a border collie, because we lived with him (briefly) in town: the dog’s cosmic consciousness lived in the country where there were animals to herd. It was his duty and responsibility to do so, and he obsessively looked for way to fill that emptiness in his life. Unfortunately, it was cars on the busy street that he attempted to herd, and for his safety and our sanity, gave Toto (the kids named him) to some people who lived on a farm.

When I looked at my calendar this morning , I remembered this conversation about behavioral imperatives that are hardwired into creatures——and not only dogs. Here in the midst of my golden years of retirement, and I’m no less busy than I was when I managed a physical therapy clinic or when I was teaching a full load of classes and labs in the biology department.

Nature abhors a vacuum; so too does the calendar for someone who has generally been and enjoyed being busy and having a reason to get up every day. We will find a way to herd something.

This week, there is a water quality committee meeting: a water quality public evening meeting, an essay to be recorded in Roanoke, a doctor’s visit in Roanoke; at least two earth day committee meetings; and  a Friday night book signing in Floyd.

Mercifully, the weather this week will be more like spring than winter, and there should be no impediments to getting where I need to be——even though there are more wheres than I would choose for a week when there’s so much to do around here, both indoors and out. This will only get more demanding as the season leaves long nights and moves towards long days.

We haven’t seen a single thing in bloom yet, which is no surprise; but I did see the first warbler of the year passing through the other day——a Ruby Crowned Kinglet. The Maple buds in the right light, especially late in the day,  are showing red. The  sap is rising, the days are lengthening, the wood stove’s less demanding,  the garden more an impending reality,  and there are still only 24 hours in a day. What’s a body to do?

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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. Wow, Fred. You really just can’t say no! You are going to be as frazzled as a retired guy as I bet you were as a teacher. When you add the home chores of spring/summer in, your schedule is going to be nuts. Thank goodness Earth Day will be over April 16, freeing up some time. You better stop adding new stuff, and maybe subtract a couple things.