Yet Another New Blogging Year

I have confronted a fresh, clean blog page starting in Januarys for more than a decade, but usually with a bit of enthusiasm and some kind of large-scale hope for where the “folk writing” about the ordinary things and events in and around Floyd County might carry me.

The carte is more blanche than usual this year. The trend has been to say less and less about less and less on this page, because more and more, there’s no HERE  here. And it’s not just this blog. The center of online participation has shifted. It’s much harder to connect with readers who, for the most part, want a photograph, a few links, and a short paragraph. Cats are good. And short videos of people falling or otherwise embarrassing themselves.

There are winds that are gone now that once filled my sails, all the more because others were on the same journey. I know there are still a few of you out there, so no need to raise your hands. You are appreciated, to be sure.

Focus here over the years has included sense of place; the magic of the written word; language in general; the human enterprise and creativity, sustainability and the arts; our “personal ecology” and the way we interact with nature, place and community; dog and chicken and wife stories; and so on.

One of the greatest joys in recent blogging years was to dig deeper into a topic that both interested me and was worth telling to others who might in turn pass along the new way of seeing familiar issues.

It was the product of those forays that most often turned into Floyd Press articles for seven years, ending a year ago December.  I miss that, quite honestly.

That latter change in my life–not having the deadlines, not having the built-in (if generally silent) audience of mostly local fellow-residents–has made a big difference in what I think I am about. My identity was for a long time tied up in what I found myself thinking about, researching and writing about, starting by posting at least a rough version of the topic here on Fragments.

I don’t post those kinds of things so much anymore. And while I’m accumulating related topical bits to perhaps incorporate into this “book” I’m working on in a lurching, anemic fashion, I wish I felt more engaged than I do.

The fact that it’s a gray, bleak winter day, that a number of our friends leave the mountains until spring time, and my continuing (if improving) orthopedic limitations–all these play into the usual winter blahs. I intend to get over it, but that won’t so much show up here but in energies put other places. So know I’m at least pretending to be word-smithing off site if I don’t post every day.

Share this with your friends!

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. I’m still here, too, still blogging away, if feeling even less relevant than before. I’d love to have the time to fully engage online–more on Facebook, Twitter, a website AND Roundtop Ruminations–but I don’t have that much time and I need to do more than sit at my computer all the time. I want to do more than sit at my computer all the time. I enjoy the experience of nature too much to spend my time inside or to spend my time outside updating my status or looking for the next photo to post somewhere. So, it is what it is and I do what I can, which isn’t nearly as much as I’d like. Sometimes I think my blogging these days is just for me, so I can remember and recall what I see outside. It’s a bit like a modern version version of a commonplace book of days.

  2. I’ve quit caring if anybody reads my blog posts. Even if they do, any ensuing conversation about the post ends on FB, which irritates me to no end, but what can I do? It’s clear 98% of my acquaintances don’t care that FB and Google are slowly consuming their souls 🙂

    However, I’ve had a regularly updated website online since 12/31/1995. I can’t fathom not having that space to spout off.

  3. Still here reading too, Fred, even if I say little most of the time… Sometimes it seems to me lately that words are superfluous, and that photos say so much by themselves. I am most assuredly not saying that my efforts with camera are any good at all, but such as they are, they often seem to say what is necessary all by themselves, never mind the ham handed wordsmith. Please do keep writing, and please do know that you are being read and are vastly appreciated (an cherished too).

  4. I think I know the feeling you are having, Fred. We just went through a week of post Christmas cool, misty days with a few rainy ones thrown in for good measure.

    Yesterday was the first time I ever remember being a bet blahed out by the weather. Today, the sun is out…The goldfinches have discovered the feeders outside my office window (finally), and I have some free music from Amazon playing as I type and surf. It makes a difference.

    Get up out of your valley, take your camera, enjoy your “here”.

  5. I’m here too, Fred. Although I don’t comment often I read your posts every day. I love the way you write and you often transport me to where you are with your descriptions of life in your valley. As a long time sufferer of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) I dread the gray and cloudy days. My home has large windows that I can sit by to rejuvenate myself at this time of year but sometimes it is your columns that fill my day with sunlight. Please don’t stop writing. You make a bigger impact than you know and would be missed by many of us.

  6. I love this photo, but I am sad to read about your understandably declining motivation to do a daily post. Maybe an iPhone photo every day, if you aren’t interested in anything more? Was this photo taken that way?

  7. Well said, Fred and I understand the feeling totally. My blog still gives me a sense of structure that I don’t want to give up, but I also don’t feel as compelled about posting and trust that even when I feel dull and irrelevant something of interest eventually re-sparks my interest. Having recently had more than one experience of not being able to access my blog, due to hosting and corruption problems, I have played out its death and feel I would live on fine.

    I sometimes find myself wishing that I could just click “like” on a blog post and while I appreciate Facebook to me it’s doesn’t take the place of blogging.

    There are a couple of old male friends in the county that I would be very upset with if they cut their long hair, and there are a couple of old bloggers that I would feel the same way about if they quit posting.

    Carry on! Small is beautiful too.

  8. Fred, we may have left the County for a spell, but I’m never far from it in my thoughts. That’s the beauty of computers. Someone like me can check your blog, and look forward to reading about the love of place we have in common and the insights you lend to life…even though we’re miles away.
    Also, anyone who’s worked in the professional world understands the psychological need for a deadline. I’ll ponder this. Hang in there. You have a lot of fans.

  9. By the looks of the comments, Fred, you’ve got a few of us who come ’round. I realized recently that I’ve all but stopped using my RSS reader on a regular basis, preferring instead to come to the sites (such as this one). There are times when I’ll pick a link in one of your sidebars and let that take me to a new place that I’ve never been before – which is pretty much always worthwhile.

    So, keep on. 2013. For me it resonates – and I hope for you too.

  10. You have so much more patience for sitting at a keyboard than some of us have. In theory, I’d love to do the longer postings that you (seemingly!) turn out so effortlessly. I admire your writing and your photographs and would be very sad were you to give up on us altogether.

  11. Hi Fred,
    I am still here, way down in Florida. It’s raining here, all tonight, tomorrow at least til noon. Sometimes rain in FL is lovely to snuggle up and read an old fashioned book, which both hubby and I love to do. Still thinking of VA and Floyd, still smiling at memories of the people we encountered, the “performance” at the country store, the older couple and their grandson at the gas station where we asked directions. We are still talking about having our gas pumped with a smile and our front windows cleaned! Charming, totally charming. So yes, I still come to visit your blog because a piece of my heart is still way up in VA.
    I would say that it is vital for you to keep blogging, because while “blogs” may be be “old school”, the way of life we encountered, however briefly in Floyd and Floyd county is something the entire country could use in huge doses. Don’t go away, this woman in FL needs to know that what we encountered, however briefly in October 2012 was not a figment of our imagination and dare I say “our longings” for “real people” who touched our lives with their smiles, their time. For us, asking directions and having people so willing to assist us, draw maps for us, with no impatience, looking at their watches, deep sighs, or rolling of eyes over two of the older generation who seemed mystified by country roads and country directions was pure delight and wonder. I think we both fell in love with Floyd that Saturday afternoon.
    Hang in there, Fred. Could you write about your lunch with Doug? I find that totally amazing that at this point he was ready for that. Would love to hear more about it.
    Remember, Spring will come again!

  12. Check in everyday. As I read your posts I feel that I am breathing that wonderful mountain air and watching the season unfold from my deck. Plus I learn things. What a combination. Thanks Fred.