My mother rubs my face in snows when I lament our winter woes.
“You should never have left Alabama” she scolds me, never having quite gotten over the fact that we were meant to live among mountains and not in the deep, sultry south.
But there was never any doubt about it. My first hint of my calling was at a wildflower event in the Great Smoky Mountains back in grad school at Auburn. There was something in the air–a pheromone of ancient granite, perhaps–that pulled us north.
And it is the Blue Ridge Mountains more than the Ridge and Valley (the setting of nearby Wytheville where we spent 12 years) that seems offer the strongest pull to home.
In winter, the weather is both hostile and beautiful. And we feel very much at home surrounded by it all.
(Do click on the image above for a larger look. Landscapes like this lose so much in a teeny view.)
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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.
MAN, I LOVE THE PHOTOGRAPH!!
GIVE ME THE MOUNTAINS ANYTIME. MY FATHER-IN-LAW LIVES IN SPEEDWELL VA, SO WE GET TO CRUISE WYTHEVILLE NOW AND THEN. I LOVE IT. SMALL MOUNTAIN TOWNS GET MY VOTE, EVEN IN WINTER. KEEP WARM, AND KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK.
Nice to see a healthy population of evergreens there. Let’s hope they stay that way.
beautiful photo, fred….it looks like a painting. i can’t remember if i mentioned that my sister is finishing up her master’s in biology at auburn right now. she really likes it there.
Fred, this photo is magnificent!!! Looking at it this morning, I can hear the snow crunching under my snowshoes and inhale the heady fragrance of evergreens – there just isn’t anything to compare with a magnificent snowy tree covered ridge or hillside. Once in a while, I think wistfully of somewhat shorter winters, but the north is where I should be and it is really the only place where I could ever live. Thank you for this one!
I’m late to the party, but I share the sentiment. That is an excellent photo you’ve put up. Oh boy. What a setting. What an evocative image of the setting. Wowser!
I kinda missed the commenting window by jumping over to your smugmug gallery and getting lost in the whole set. Great shots. I especially liked the shot from the far end of the field.
although the sleet can make for murderous driving, it has produced some of the most beautiful scenes I have ever witnessed. our power was never out for long, but that is what fireplaces are for.
I just found out that I can see the entire width of your page by getting to you via Interet Explorer. My AOL browser truncated the sides of your page, so I had given up reading your blog. I came back to some fine photos: this one and the one of your house in the dawn. It’s good to be back!
Kathy Barron in L. A.