Second Week: June Books Sale


And oh it is such a nice week in June with low humidity, cool nights and pleasantly-warm days. Lots of hay-making going on.

And you know to make hay while the sunshines, so you also know to order books while the sale shines.

Thanks to those who have ordered, I have a shipment going to the PO tomorrow, so it won’t be long until they arrive at your door.

If you’ve been waiting, don’t. The rains will come and winds will blow and your hay will be all lodged over and go to waste. And you won’t even have any books from Goose Creek to see you through such a tragedy!

Click the PICTURE to go right to the order form, or QUICK CHECK-OUT: forget the order form (for my accounting purposes) and send payment by cash or check today to

Fred First, 1020 Goose Creek Run, Check VA 24072

And many thanks for supporting your local authors in all places. We do it because we all expect to get rich, but some of us actually have a passion for sharing and love the language and all it makes possible between us.

► Both Fred’s Books for $18. Period. 

What We Hold In Our Hands: The Missing Preface

[su_heading size=”14″]I was looking for a particular quote from my 2009 book when I ran across this short passage labeled as Preface, but which never got into the printing of the book. I don’t know if this was intentional or accidental (which can be said for no small number of happenings in my lifetime.) But it is worth adding it for the record now to these few short declarations of what my hopes for the book were, and are:[/su_heading]

Let me ask you, my generation, fellow citizens of Earth, husband and wife, parent, seeker and reader of books–do we truly comprehend all that we hold in our hands?

We grasp to hold precious moments in time, captured instants of light and shadow, to hold them in the snapshot memories of day to day blessings we then easily forget.

I reach for the same, far apart as we are, and having never met, when we compare family albums, you and I, we share more together than we might have thought.

We carry in our hands the unique but not dissimilar histories of our families and communities, towns and the landscapes under our feet and off our front porches–the places of our lives that we have made unique and that in turn have shaped the contours of our sense of the good and the beautiful, places from our particular stories of what it means to be at home in the world.

This book is born from one of those places, but it is about a much wider geography than that one place.

What we hold in our hands is the destiny of our children and grandchildren across the whole Earth, particularly the young who, by choice or by house rules, do not know the freedom of unstructured play in the rough margins of cities and suburbs.

They are to their peril and ours no longer very interested in the drama of living things that goes on some small distance from the electrical outlets.

It is no less than the shape of tomorrow that we hold in unsure hands, uncertain of how to do what’s best, determined to do no less than that for those to whom we leave this earth.

We hold infinity in the palm of our hand, eternity in an hour, William Blake tells us. You don’t have to go far to see the world.

So what you hold in your hands when you read this book is most certainly a single grain of sand, one fragment from the author’s personal view of these blessings and responsibilities we’ve been given in our times. It is a narrative of particular moments and dramas in one life, one family and one remote Blue Ridge valley.

But in this collection of stories I hope you also hear a universal call for all of us to think more deeply about what we know and care about–our here, our now, our known riches of the senses, of memory, of relationship.

Perhaps this macrocosmic focus of words and images between these covers might lead in some small and lasting measure towards an enlightened desire to care for each other in profound and persistent ways.

It asks that we celebrate and sustain the precious natural world we do not own but whose fate we hold in our hands and from which our living and future ultimately derives.

Images Video from What We Hold

Not all these images made the final cut, but fifty did–as black and white illustrations that support the narrative from or about the picture. I think (and readers have told me) that having the pictures is a good thing. You get to see them all in one sitting–with music; turn on your speakers.

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Author’s Note What We Hold In Our Hands: a Slow Road Reader

You will find a few moments of pleasant reading in this book, I trust. More than this, it is my hope that as you look out at my world through my eyes, you will come to know the “Ah, Aha, and Haha” realities in your own life.

Looking through this lens at the terrain of your daily life may offer clarity and depth to your seeing, to your understanding and to your caring for the places and people in your own local habitat.

It’s a risky business exposing one’s thoughts and fears, memories and hopes to strangers. But I’m convinced that from this kind of unselfconscious hyper-local personal story-telling, you’ll discover that you and I are not all that different.

In the end, there’s no them and us; there’s only us. We can and must grow together in our families and communities, building our future upon each other’s humor and courage, wisdom and strength of character–now more than ever.

Interview: Fred’s What We Hold ~ Part One

This is your second book. How would you compare it to the first book, Slow Road Home?

The two books consist of essays and stories that are personal and local. The voice of both is avuncular and informal, and comes from my particular perspective and background as teacher and naturalist, grandparent and aging son of the southern Appalachians. Nature is central to both books, and the visual aspect of nature and local landscape is prominent in What We Hold in the fifty-plus black and white images in the book.

The first book was my story, the second is more our story, yours and mine, though this book too is in some sense a memoir. The plight of “nature deficit” in our children and the “physics of aging” at the other end of the life spectrum are recurrent themes in this book. It is deeply rooted in the local (especially as it applies to how we care for each other and this special part of the world), but a reader beyond our region may also follow the thread from my tales to their own stories, hopes, concerns for tomorrow and best memories.

What can you tell the reader about the title of the book, What We Hold In Our Hands: a Slow Road Reader?

Not surprisingly, there is a literal and a metaphorical meaning to the title. I’ve turned rocks, rolled logs and waded streams pretty much all my teaching life to hold things in my hands to take a long, close look at them. I’ve done that as a writer, too, and the fragments of my blog and newspaper columns have been what I hold onto from all the bits I have been drawn toward. So this book is a collection of things found, kept and shared to look at a little longer or in a different light.

Of all human features, it is the hand that most holds my admiration. It sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom in the power it gives us to create and destroy, to possess and to share. We make conscious acts every day–as I have done in my writing–to hold fast to those things that nurture and to let go of that which in the end might do us harm. This book is about those things we hold onto from the fragments of our lives by conscious choice–as children: an iPod or a mudpie? and as adults: a pen or a sword? This is an old, old story between new covers.

The cover image of the book showing our barn and pasture on a golden morning–one particular and special time and place–was chosen to be a symbol of the title. The book is very much about my local ecology and times that are a reflection of all our places and short span of days. “Only that day dawns to which we are awake” Thoreau said. I hope this book might gently awaken readers to the day they hold in their hands.