Westlake Library: Language and Light

You CAN get to Hardy, Virginia from Goose Creek, but both places are happily a bit off the beaten path. Two weeks from tomorrow, I’ll visit that part of the Commonwealth for the first time, and I’m glad I have Google Navigation to get me there, because like where we live, it’s not on the way to anyplace else.

And yet the area seems to have a disproportionate number of writers, and I am assuming, readers as well near Smith Mountain Lake. So when I speak there, I’ll be looking forward to seeing some familiar faces from among my Rocky Mount and Franklin County writer-friends and to meeting new readers and authors at the Westlake Library (map) on November 16 at 2 p.m. Here’s the plan:

I’ll explain briefly how my experience and interests as naturalist, teacher, writer and photographer have brought me there with the day’s particular combination of words and images. (A bit more bio here.)

I’ll read a couple of landscape-based essays that arise out of the place I call home, assuming that, in this audience consisting of Friends of the Library and other readers, the tolerance for spoken-word imagery will hold up for maybe as long as ten minutes with eyes closed, sharing through the power of language two narrative accounts of my bonds to place here on Goose Creek.

The main feature, I guess you’d say, will be a fifteen-minute image series with music. It consists of 100 digital photographs–landscapes, nature scenes, local landmarks and people–maybe a dozen of them including text quotes from Wendell Berry, Aldo Leopold, and some of my own words. The images move in and out in a “Ken Burns” kind of transition, with appropriate Celtic-Appalachian musical background by William Coulter and Friends.

Lastly, if it seems to arise from the presentation, we’ll share our experiences about how growing up close to the land has influenced for good our character and values, and to discuss the importance to pass along to our children a “sense of place” and a familiarity with nature, so that they can “call things by name” in fields and forests they think of as Home.

If you can’t get to Westlake from where you live, I’ll be doing a similar program not far at all from home–at the Huffville Church (map) off Daniels Run in Floyd on November 20 at 5 pm. You CAN get there from here.

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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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