Another Book? Maybe. Maybe Not

Late august afternoon on the Blue Ridge Parkway

I drove across the county to visit a friend on Sunday  (taking the image above as the sun settled close to the distant western horizon.) He has a market stand, and invited me to keep him company while he chatted with the irregular trickle of customers who might drop by. It made for an interesting afternoon.

One apparent regular quickly announced he was a massage therapist, and barely concealed his disdain for my former profession of physical therapy; I didn’t bother to defend myself by telling him I was not of the “shake and bake” variety. And somehow, in the course of conversation, he proceeded to describe what for him has been a successful technique for conditions often refractory to other attempts at intervention: the use of a kitchen plunger to produce soft tissue lift-distraction and mobilization in a way not possible with hands alone. Makes sense. But a patient might take some convincing. And worry about a massive hickey that might be hard to explain to their spouse.

Another couple of regulars motored in on a four-wheeler, out scouting places to bow hunt. One of them, a retired Charlotte cop, had recently had the same surgery I had back in April. I was happy to tell him about my good success with all that. I’m tying up tomato plants with nary a whimper now, and buttoning my shirts again without pain.

On the down side, my friend’s 14 year old son had run away from home a few days earlier. He was sleeping outdoors (maybe in a park) somewhere in Winston Salem, according to a local friend who had heard from him. You can imagine the father’s anguish, and having been through the trials of a father of teenagers, this really disturbed me greatly. I couldn’t get father and son off my mind. So I was immensely relieved to hear the boy had come home yesterday. That story could have have a very tragic ending. I hope lessons were learned–the hard way–that will keep the young man among those who love him and have his best interest at heart, even though most teenagers put a very low value on such investments by parents and other enemy-adults until much later in their lives, with the clearer vision of hindsight.

But per the title, I will share that the notion of a third book has been taunting me for a few weeks. And on the way over Sunday, the main title reached me. And on the way home, the subtitle tapped me on the shoulder. This has helped me frame the contents and begin to think about organization. I’ve started on the preface. We’ll see what happens.

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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. I ran away from home when I was a teenager. I made it to France which was, it seems, to be the start of a lifetime of fleeing to that country. Perhaps I am genetically programmed to do that. My own mother closed the door of the family home firmly behind me when I left, a mistake in my opinion, always leave the door open and the way home clearly signposted.

  2. ps, loved your previous posts, very thought-provoking, alas I couldn’t reply since I was at work and meant to be reverse engineering bank Trojans at the time

  3. Have you done any more thinking about the embryonic novel you were contemplating awhile back? Based on what you said about it, I really want to read it!