Westlake Debriefing: Part Two

Hickory Horned Devil
Image by fred1st via Flickr

More, regarding the hard to find but worth finding Westlake Library…continued from 17 November

â–¶ And a very nice facility it is, too–two years old, tucked away in the corner of the strip mall shopping center near Krogers. The tour of the library finds displays of local artistic works by local school artists and adult artisans. It was also pointed out to me that one section of book shelves were the old ones from Floyd’s Jesse Peterman library, donated when JP was upgraded–about two years ago. You’re very welcome!

â–¶ With the weather such as it was, I was happy for a “captive audience” in the Friends of the Library business meeting that placed some requirement on attendance in spite of fog-rain-wind. But then, there were some folks who attended without such obligation–maybe 30 in all, which is a huge audience for this part of the world–including local writers familiar to me, folks who had read Slow Road Home from previous visits to Franklin County, and some new reader-friends.

â–¶ There was some engine knock, hesitation, and mild loss of control in cornering, but overall, I suppose my part of the program pulled about a B minus. I didn’t set up the reading very well, didn’t discuss the backstory as fully as I wanted to. But then, some my unplanned digressions fit in with my intended course. Still, the misses loom larger in my mind than the hits in a day-after debriefing. You beat yourself up unnecessarily, no matter how well your external validation would encourage you to think of your performance as a success.

â–¶ I think I’ll do things differently for the Huffville (Saturday at 5 pm) event, to place more emphasis on the visual program, and to bring the younger folks in that audience into the dialogue that might come from the images–having to do with sense of place, obligation to be good stewards, and to be on a first-name basis with the creatures we share this planet with. I’ll post my prompts for you to edit and add to.

The travel difficulties on I-77 were worse than I understood while making my own slow, solitary way up the same thousand-foot climb in the fog. It was truly a nightmare for many in a 75-vehicle disaster. Imagine.

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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. Thank you, thank you for representing the few living curious adults on Planet Earth. This is a Hickory Horned Devil–which I think is the largest caterpillar in North America. It will change into a Royal Walnut Moth–not nearly as showy (or as seemingly menacing–though harmless) as its earlier life stage. The spines are not poisonous or dangerous in any way.

  2. That wonderful caterpillar was included in one of your earlier posts or in one of your books, so it was an old friend to me, although I had forgotten its name, if I ever knew. I like your plan to focus on the young people in your next presentation. I hope you will reach them and get satisfying feedback from them.

  3. Fred, you are too hard on yourself–the Westlake crowd gives you an A on your presentation. Everyone enjoyed your readings and everyone loved your photography. I think you really “struck a nerve” when you spoke of feeling you had found just the right place when you found Floyd as most of the folks present are from outside the area and feel the same way about the lake area.

    Thanks, again for making the trip from Floyd in the bad weather and please visit us again.

    Marilyn Amerson
    Westlake Library