image copyright Fred First
Ann and I both noticed it as we rounded the curve of the pasture headed back toward the house in our morning walk: the old apple tree is leaning more than it has been. The hollow trunk gives way, its branches like arms reach toward Nameless Creek, as if in prayer, lifted up even as the old tree slowly lies down to die.

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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. haunting photo and thoughts! i was just close to your neck of the woods….my parents and i were in giles county and at claytor lake for the weekend exploring and then i came home from there. i noticed a lot of trees doing the same thing along a trail that we walked that followed the new river. they all seemed to be leaning towards the river.

  2. very nice. I take photos of the dying hemlocks in the Smokies but have not found a way to capture the spirit or essence of the tree as you have mastered in this image.