October Leaves in a Huff–cont’d

While man and raven endure a gray, unpleasant day here in Floyd County, our friends and relatives and their’s, on up the coast Jersey and New York, will experience a day that, unfortunately, will only be “unprecedented” by comparison to the past.

Evidence is mounting that these once-in-a-1000-years storms will show up on the radar on a much more regular seasonal basis, going forward. The extreme warm waters of the North Atlantic this late summer and the open waters of the melted Arctic sea (this new fact about the world is still hard to comprehend) both stand as “anomalies” likely to be permanent facts in our children’s weather-lifetimes.

And yet, in the election that can’t come fast enough to suit everyone I know, no mention is being made of this issue at all. We seem to have suffered, and our candidates especially, some kind of national amnesia — as if we ignore this inconvenient fact, it will go away and leave us alone.

I play mind games, gazing without focus into the gray and almost-leafless distance of this place and of decades to come. In that future I fantasize a time when carbon dioxide becomes apparent to our senses. Through some twist of fate or Providence or the workings of mischievous hobbits, the odorless invisible gas has become pink, with the distinctive smell of cooking cabbage — the pinker and stinkier as the concentration of it goes up.

My ravens yaw and rise in visible van Gogh eddies of pink against an amethyst sky, angry swirls gyrating south. The stench of it fills the house, permeates every fiber within, fills the contained humans with dread and angst. But those beyond who had always held the faith that they “didn’t believe in” climate change become colorblind and maintain either that they are breathing through their mouths from now on and choose not to smell a thing, or that it smells like money. Pink is beautiful. Bring it on! God help us.

NOTE: I’ll have another short tale about the image, I showed up a few seconds after these bullet holes appeared in the warning sign.

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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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