The Flow of Things

I wonder where it went?
I wonder where it went?

I stood out in the garden yesterday thinking of the flow of change in that one place, having to guard myself against the dizzying swirl of the fact at any level above the plodding, annual, visible-light frame of reference we humans are ordinarily trapped in for our protection.

Just behind me as I stood facing the barn was where the big walnut once stood, the rangy branches once alive with chattering red squirrels I watched from our first garden down farther away from the house and over the septic field.

That tree had to go, its center wet-black with rot, and useful in other forms. Phoenix Hardwoods turned that forked trunk into a Y shaped two inch thick walnut table for a conference room or hotel foyer somewhere I suppose, and gained me a steep barter-discount on the white oak desk under my keyboard just now.

Where this walnut trunk rests on the ramp into the truck five years ago, our garden shed now stands. It seems so permanent a part of the landscape, and this of course is an illusion. Some day hundreds of years from now, someone will discover the concrete footers of our 6 x 6 garden posts and wonder what kind of containment camp this must have been, never imagining it was simply to protect our beans.

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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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