Tree Fallen in the Forest


Fortunately, I left my favorite light weight long sleeve shirt on the side of this trail on Monday and had to go back to try to find it yesterday.

Fortunately, because the trip carried me to the Parkway on a misty-foggy day when I otherwise would never have gone there.

The deep woods in fog on a calm day, hazy bright, in early autumn alone with camera in hand: life is good.

I was deep in concentration, contorted on the side of the slope of this wonderful cove, eye to the viewfinder, when I heard somewhere behind me the huffing of an animal: Dog. Or bear, I thought. But I didn’t look up, and was glad it was a hiker with a dog.

I discovered once more how difficult it is, with the single monopic lens of the camera to capture the sense of forest–of any setting where we carry a camera wanting to say “this is what it is like” and only in the end touch the edges of a place, of a time.

This enormous fallen tree going back to its elements was my first stop. This, it seems, will be a good year for mushrooms. And fog. And forest pictures in the fall. Stay tuned.

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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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