“Only that day dawns to which we are awake” said Mr. Thoreau.

And of course, this phrase from the very end of Walden will mean different things to different folks.

I liked it enough that I ask Ann to make a cross-stitch sampler for me in the mid-seventies. Turns out this important era in environmental history marked my own “waking up.”

I liked the phrase enough that, when I began to wonder if I had a third book in me, I titled it “Only That Day Dawns” and was still thinking about an appropriate subtitle when I changed it to “AWAKE: Field Notes of a Blue Ridge Biology Watcher.

If nothing else, I am enjoying creating the skeleton of the would-be book, upon which to hang various unpublished bits or blog posts that can readily be fleshed out and fit in the appropriate section.

I. Biophilia
II. Waking Up
III. One Place, Understood
IV. What We Leave Behind

I’m thinking 7 to 10 pieces in each section, from 1500 to 4000 words long. I’m setting them up like blog posts, with titles I will “write towards” in snatches as I have time and clarity over the ……….. (Fill in the blank with grains of sand in the hourglass remaining.)

Perhaps more, another day. But I won’t expect my energy to feed off of blog readers input as was the case in the extreme for Slow Road Home and to some degree with What We Hold in Our Hands.

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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. Truth of it is, I might end up having more that one book’s worth in all this. We’ll see how wound up I get. And how much I manage to get accomplished with the book-writing while juggling cats.

  2. I thought you’re more likely to be juggling chickens 🙂 Anyway, I and your myriad (at least more than two) readers are delighted that you’re embarking on another big project. Write on!

  3. I believe you will get a satisfying amount of feedback on at least some of those topics. Biophilia sounds good to me! Have you heard about “Lab Girl” by Hope Jahren? I just started it and it is magical, both subject and style. She is a botanist who made a list of 100 most influential people.