Having Arrived: Winter Took Its Sweet Time


Not that I’m complaining. The wood pile has only recently begun to take a very serious daily (and especially nightly) hit. Now the season is making up for a slow start-up.

There is a mixed excitement and dread facing the imminent “potentially extraordinary El Nino-fueled winter storm.” [what are they calling this one, btw?]

Three feet of snow (which some predict as possible) will make life nigh impossible for many farmers in Floyd County. It will prevent emergency travel for all, especially those of us on the very back of the back roads.

Some folks will have failed to appreciate the potential severity and duration of such a storm and will run out of milk and bread, of course, because we all know a body needs far more of these grocery items when it snows. But running out of fuel or having pipes frozen or the power being out [a very likely expectation] can be severely quality-of- life-threatening at the least for the elderly and ill.

Snows of 30 or more inches will crush some old outbuildings and barns. The good news is that, cold as it will be during this event, a heavy wet snow is not likely in the NRV.  But three feet of powder would be heavy enough. Just shoveling a path to the wood pile here would be done a foot of shoveling followed by a half hour thaw inside.

You might have noticed: My cameras are gathering dust in the absence of the usual snow and ice shots that dominate the typical frozen-water features from early December until Mud Month.

Three feet of snow is a photographic subject I’ll be shooting from the relative comfort of the front porch–hoping that the roof over me holds firm.

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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. (Beautiful photo, by the way. Allen loved the shadows.) I am glad you have wood for heat, but loss of power would be bad nonetheless. I hope you photogenic barn withstands the snow weight. We have had only one rain so far this winter from El Nino, but California is braced for a whole lot more.