Mountain Home: Parkway Symposium in Roanoke

"I need me some mountains to rest my eyes against."

Okay. I’m getting “journey proud” as an old co-worker used to say of one anticipating a trip.

I could be wrong–in which case, I will, after all, feel disconnected from the crowd, disengaged from the topics, and anxious to just get back home to Goose Creek. But I don’t think this is going to happen in Roanoke over the next few days at the Parkway Symposium.

I know several of the speakers–including Ricky Cox, Rupert Cutler, Woody Crenshaw. And two of the keynote speakers–Richard Louv and Peter Jenkins have places in our family history.

My son, a few of you know, walked across America, from Bar Harbor to Floyd back in 2000. No small degree of his being emboldened to do so came from his momma’s reading him Jenkin’s book back in the early 80s.

And the notion of “nature deficit disorder” made the hair on my arms stand up when I first read the term in Orion magazine back in 2005. Louv’s work arising out of “Last Child in the Woods” gives energy and purpose to no small number of words in my own writing since then. And nature appreciation and understanding is something towards which I can, in a very small way, contribute.

The meetings will be at the Hotel Roanoke, a place I very much enjoyed getting to know at the SEJ conference two years ago this month. One of my roles this time will be as a “reporter” for the Star Sentinel; my press pass hopefully will put me in a position for both images, digital recording, and perhaps interviews. We’ll see.

Image: a panorama of five shots showing the Floyd County skyline viewed between town and home, October 11. Click to enlarge. The caption is a quote from Lee Smith, of her father, on asking him why he didn’t move from Grundy to live with her in Chapel Hill.

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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. Looks like the fall colors are peaking in your area.

    I’m looking forward to resting my eyes against some mountains come November. Maybe we can arrange a meeting again.