September ~ Part Two

…Water in living tissue freezes, and juices don’t flow from root to shoot. Freezing kills exposed cells, water expanding as it cools below 39 degrees. Metabolism slows to a halt when the mercury falls since enzymes and other catalysts refuse to work fast enough below a certain fixed temperature. The whole living world might die of exposure. Autumn forebodes a serious change of plans.

Leave town, the birds say: go to the beach! And they gather early and debate loudly their intentions, starting in September. Drain the radiator, cry the broadleaved trees, and abort the solar panels; they won’t do much good when days are short.

Dig! Bury yourself in the mud, under bark, deep in the cleft of an overhanging rock, in the hollow of a canker in a big walnut in the shelter of the valley.

Find food now, say the rodents–oily nuts, fat-rich seeds, calorie-dense stuff that won’t spoil. Hoard it, starting when the green fades, and forget picnics on the lawn until the last white has melted away. Go into a chilled slumber in a safe place, and stir only after the soil warms and the creeks thaw. Winter is coming! Make ready!…

Continued: Excerpt from Floyd County Almanac 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. Now this was great!! I am a fellow naturalist, so of course I would eat this up. I think the rest of your audience will love it, too.