End of an Era: Beginning of…

Lion tamer in cage with two lions, a lioness, ...
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It is now official: I will not continue for an 8th year of writing for the Floyd Press or a 4th for Star Sentinel. It just seemed, for a long list of reasons, that the time had come to move on and do something else, liberated from the obligation of these mostly-energizing deadlines staring me in the face without a break now for more than 150 essays and grampa tales.

That “something else” has fuzzy edges. I have two large writing projects vaguely in mind. One would be an expression of the understanding I have come to hold (and still continue to learn more about) with regard to an individual’s relationships to nature, place and community (stewardship from the local to the global.) The other is the “dog book” I mentioned just a week ago–before we had said creature laying across my feet (or alternately, trying to eat them.)

How I will be able under the new circumstances, even without the press deadlines, to devote even 10% of the necessary focus to either of these projects (and not like these works are the sum total of my responsibilities, obligations or ambitions) with a new puppy eludes me. But then, I knew this going in. I just know it in a different, more tactile, puppy-breath sort of way these past few days. Gandy is a good teacher.

That said, I am not going to know what to do with my fingers, my words, my accumulated snippets and read-laters and aha! moments when topics to write about coalesce before my mind’s eye, and I have nowhere for a finished essay to go. I don’t want to lose the constant vigilance and curiosity that has driven me to tell stories in print these last years. I’ve learned a heck of a lot by “teaching” the tip of the icebergs I’ve uncovered in my required studies. Without the requirement, will I just become a packrat of information for its own sake? Does this mean I am in retreat or only changing direction? I really do not know yet.

Well there you go: I just turned around after being distracted (as if I was entitled to a personal moment out of my larger and vastly more important servant-responsibilities) in the typing of these few paragraphs, and caught a rare bladder incident in progress. My fault. I forgot that my writer’s hat hangs on the wall now. Hopefully, I can eventually be clicker-trained to never not-for-a-second take off my lion-tamer’s hat at least until maybe summer.

Yes mum. Coming, Your Grace.

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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. Rough rule of thumb: a pups age in months plus one is about how long they can manage, so a 2 month old needs to be taken out every 3 hours during the day, might make 4 or so hours overnight. Back in my puppy rearing days I would scoop them up when it was time even if they were asleep and head on outside.

    Click. Good Fred.

  2. Ditto on the puppy age to bathroom trips advice. That one always worked for me. I did luck out at night, though. The pup only got me up at 2 a.m. for about a week and then we shifted to 5 a.m. for a month or so, so I mostly got a full night’s sleep through tiny puppyhood.

  3. In her crate, she’s good for a couple of hours, more at night. But during the day inside, she lets it fly with the first impulse, and soiling her space is not much of an issue, since she has the entire bottom floor (or a room if we use the dividers) to spread out on. We take her out every 30 minutes max, and stopping at the door to put her on the floor to get her used to the idea and the location to announce her needs ahead of acting on them. She’s doing pretty well.

  4. You don’t have nowhere to go with your ideas! You have us, your blog readers. We may be small, but we are mighty!