September ~ Part Three

That autumn comes once more is written in the stars, a matter of cosmic routine, and we, every one, aware or not, actively or passively become part of that ancient orchestrated cosmic choreography.

The first tendrils of wood smoke from the chimney on a September morning and the green and red and gold Mason jars of summer’s produce in the cellar are signs that those within this household have believed the signals that have told us since early August: it is time to make ready.

We join the procession, the turning of the great wheel that will keep the sun low in the south for six months, to give the other half of the world’s creatures their spring. It’s only fair. Now, we relinquish our long days and summer wardrobe to the autumn alchemy that will transform toad and tulip poplar, cedar waxwing, goldenrod and wing stem, raven and rat snake, and us to our winter selves, whatever movement or metabolism that might require. To all of our fellow creatures who share our local habitat and calendar–see you on the other side.

September Part Two

September Part One

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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. Most of Slow Road Home came from blog posts, so a reader of the book who was a reader of the blog revisited familiar terrain. For What We Hold In Our Hands: a Slow Road Reader, a good bit of that book came from Floyd Press essays, many of which I also had posted to the blog. There are also other writings in the second book NOT in the paper columns or blog, as readers have told me they were pleased to discover.

    But for the one I’m working on, those bits won’t be seen by readers until they open the book–unless I share bits of it here. To do that, and if so, how much, is something I’m not sure of.

    The editing suggestions I received from blog readers where very helpful for the first book, fewer contributed to the second book, and by this point in time, I expect only a very few would add their constructive (or other) criticisms, should I chose to make this book as publicly available as it is being written.

    But I’m likely to “serialize” short segments–like this monthly entry–from time to time, along with fitting images, if for no other reason than force of habit of having the feeling I’m not alone for the 18 months it is likely to take to get this done.

    I am giving some thought, ultimately, to create and market a pdf version of this book that includes photographs, much like these last three blog posts.

  2. Rob, that point comes into the writing a bit later.

    “I heap praise on autumn, and at the same time here in the September of my life feel my own firmament shifting subtly through a kind of emotional equinox, admitting some early deviation away from anticipation and towards dread, come the first signs of fall.

    At some point, it will likely be the winters towards which autumns hint, whose demands and risks become the tipping point that triggers our own migration away from independence, out, down, south, towards climate control and other forms of dependent living.

    Until then, we will carry on, even if the carrying requires ibuprofen and a certain amount of whining. Let the season commence, as there is nothing we can do to hold it back. Gentlemen, start your wood stoves!”

  3. I can hear your voice so clearly in this entry! You really have a lyrical, distinctive voice when you are writing about nature. It is your forte, your gift. I foresee great things for the planned book.
    I also like your excerpt in the comment above about our aging selves. Good stuff, Fred.

  4. I really enjoyed these last three entries, Fred. I look forward to all of this compiled one day. They are such clear descriptions of autumn, and, in the reading a bonus is that I literally hear your voice speaking them to me. Nice!