Buzzzz-y as a ….

Honey fills the walls of abandoned old store
Honey fills the walls of abandoned old store

I can’t tell you what a relief it will be to get on top of the pending patient-care documentation for my last home health patients I’m discharging today. The paperwork I loathe, even while I’m happy to see these fine folks and will miss our twice-a-week visits, not to mention the excuse I have had for two months now to get to Floyd on a regular basis, even if I only pass through or make a quick stop or two. The details and the form filling: good riddance. For now. Maybe longer. Who knows? Feels like “what comes next” that does not include my former paying job and profession.

Wonderful and well-attended event yesterday (the Conservation Celebration) on the sunny hill overlooking the campus of Hollins College. Thanks so much to the Western Virginia Land Trust for giving me table space under the enormous white tent, one of two local authors, the other–Bruce Ingram, who had is four river-and-conservation-related books for readers. Governor Tim Kaine was on hand to receive an award for his strong support of land conservation. I met a lot of nice kindred-spirit folks.

I said yes to the phone call late last night, and now–after I finish my last two visits and associated paperwork–I’ll have to put feet on that offer: to prepare to speak tomorrow to a group of mixed-age students about the upcoming 350 project and climate change. So: one space empties, something comes along to fill it in. Sound familiar?

I returned from Hollins last night to hear Ann’s adventure: she and the dog were heading over for a last walk about 5:00 when, across the newly-mowed pasture ambles an adult bear–not the first time–followed by a cub. And then another. And finally, a third. So yes, I’d say the bear population is growing. We’d been noticing our spicebush shrubs along the creek and the “New Road” with broken trunks–as if something had ridden them down and stripped them of their pungent red berries. (We’d also seen very large scat consisting 100% of spicebush seeds.) So a momma bear with cubs: not an encounter we hope for–for the dog especially.

The honey bees pictured in the image above live in a building on our road occupied by no one but bees. The knot hole is always congested with incoming and outgoing flights, but traffic control will get a rest soon with the coming of colder weather soon upon us.

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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. Hurray for honey bees! If you know anyone who keeps them, they would probably love to take these and give them a new home… but it is so nice to see some that have gone to the wild again! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Wow. How scary for Ann to encounter bears, especially because Tsuga was with her. I’m glad she managed to do the right thing, or that the bear was going to ignore the two of them no matter what they did.

  3. I would be tempted to sample their honey. How about you? Did you see the televised nature special called “The Queen of Trees”? It may have been on Discovery. It showed some honey harvesting from a fig tree, and your post reminded me of this.

    The bear sighting is extra cool. I think you guys are safe as long as Tsuga doesn’t pursue. I think it’s great to hear of bears in Floyd county.

    And congrats on the new grandson.