You Can Get There from Here

Reflections: Winter, Still

It’s been a winter of isolation, what with the weather complications and with me (thankfully from the standpoint of travel conditions) not being compelled to join the company of others in a work setting, newly “released” from that obligation.

We have even less traffic than the usual half dozen vehicles a day, and with the creek frozen under ice, other than the ticking of the stove and the dog licking his blanket in the other room, it is utterly quiet and rather lonely here this winter. It’s been a while since Ann crunched her way into the darkness down the frozen slush this morning for a white-knuckled drive that will cost her an hour just to get to the interstate.

So with all this solitude and seclusion that is both welcomed and worrisome, I’m happy to have the company of others electronically, and just wanted to use this quiet morning hour to bring your attention to a few of them. It’s hard to feel connected in such a season, but you CAN get there from here, and having “neighbors” online certainly helps.

Michael Abraham has a long history in the printing business but has shifted his focus recently to writing. His first book is in active production, and The Spine of the Virginias will be available soon. He traveled the entire border between the two states and his book is filled with the varied stories and settings of the people who call those historically and topographically unique boundary areas home. He has other fictional work also nearing completion. Mike and I discuss with some regularity the pros and cons of self-publishing and writing in general. Visit Mike at his web site.

I met Dan Sullivan at the Society of Environmental Journalists conference in Roanoke in 2008. Formerly an editor at Rodale for some years, Dan is back in school for a masters in environmental studies. He has created,  a communication tool for sustainable farming and local-food communities so that they might learn from each other through shared stories. Seems like there’s a good bit of overlap between Dan’s hopes and those of SustainFloyd. Visit FarmStory and become part of the growing community.

Elora (I won’t use her last name since she doesn’t on her blog) found Fragments a few months back and I think, if you find something of value at Fragments, you’ll be glad you visited Elora’s JustOffTheOneLaneRoad--a “slow” blog celebrating life close to the earth from a few hours north of Goose Creek.

Carla Royal obviously hit the ground running, and you’d never know her blog is less than a month old. Her site is called “Sacred Witness” with the subtitle: Photography as Presence. And again, if you find something grounding and rooted in the present of a particular time and place, visit Carla’s site. She lived a year in Floyd and found the pace and scale of that way of life

Ann Kroeker emailed a short while ago to tell me she’d clipped a piece from Fragments a few years back, kept it, and wanted to post excerpts. The topic: Slow Living (a topic that went on to become the source of the title for Slow Road Home.) You can read her comments about that piece and the topic in general–something to which she has given considerable thought. She is author of “Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families.” The book comes from a Christian perspective. I confess I have not seen the book, but can imagine that somewhere within it is the encouragement to listen to the “still small voice” we can only hear when we are not rushing and anxious; to “be still and know…”

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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. Oh, wow, Fred! Thank you so very much! I have a saying that runs something like this: “There you are sawing away on your violin and suddenly you (somehow manage to) catch a piece of the symphony. The trick is not to drop your violin!” Hanging on tight to my violin, with humble joy!

    Thank you, again.

  2. An overburdened table groans even more – I subscribed to Dan Hill’s newsletter and marveled at the photography of Carla and wordsmithing of Elora. Sigh …. if only I had the time …..