Creek Jots 2010-09-13

â–¶ More Flavor, Less Filling
Choices: give a 15 minute presentation to a dozen people, reading from my stuff; or display my books and smile at strangers for three hours. The latter makes me feel pathetic and isolated, a few books sold are accidental. The former makes me feel like I’ve been able to reach a few hearts and minds, which is what the writing is all about–not selling books. It’s a tough road these days for my fellow small-press writer colleagues, and frankly, there is much discouragement evident in the conversation. Is it the economy? Have we reached a new level of apathy in our society? Fewer and fewer people will make the effort it takes to read, preferring more passive distractions. I look at the blank screen at 4 in the morning and wonder why.

â–¶ Bright Lights, Big City
Very small town, actually, where the First Annual Floyd Community Market Breakfast was a rousing success! Something like 200 people came in two shifts for one excellent meal and a great social gathering early on an overcast late summer morning. As for the Harvest Festival event scattered across town, it seemed to me to lack cohesiveness and was more or less diffuse and invisible. There was a crude map in the packet of info, but we missed the livestock showing and such. And a few of the exhibits Ann saw (canned goods etc) seemed not to have generated many quality entries. We’ll do better next year.

â–¶ Land Trusts
It was a perfect afternoon yesterday for the Western Virginia Land Trust Conservation Celebration at Braeloch, a large covered pavilion on a ridge overlooking the Roanoke Valley. My writer-teacher buddy, Bruce Ingram and I shared a table adjacent to the small white tent under which local wines and (Floyd County) cider and beer were served. Rupert Cutler was awarded a prestigious conservation award that last year at this event went to governor Tim Kaine. The dinner was excellent, all from local meats and produce. On October 3, Bruce and I will meet again at Mountain Lake Hotel for the NRV Land Trust River Revel, hoping to engage at least a few of those who attend in conversations about our books and their topics. These people who feel a bond to place and landscape are the audience I write to, really, but a table on the periphery is not the way to reach them with what I have to say.

â–¶ Bright Lights, Big Meeting
The SEJ conference this year is in Missoula, Montana. I’ve attended the last two years, first in Roanoke and then last year in Madison, Wisconsin, and both years, come back energized by the experience and sense of mission that even my small voice might make a difference in the effort to push back against the forces of ignorance, indifference and greed that so terribly impact the natural basis for life on Earth. Maybe I’ve lost my hope in that regard. Or maybe I’m just being frugal but going to a conference in Roanoke instead of Montana this October. Richard Louv and Peter Jenkins will be among the keynote speakers at the symposium “Imagining the Blue Ridge Parkway for the 21st Century: Sustaining Communities, Environments, and Economies.” These will be issues close to home, and I will see some of these people and possibly work with them locally.

▶  Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…
We are back in a drought–another period of weeks without significant rain. The fall sowing of kale, turnip and mustard a month ago is just sitting there, the edible-pod peas won’t set fruit before frost at this rate. ☐  Last year’s crop of two pears has increased to maybe a dozen; we’ll check today to see if they’re ready to pick. ☐  The wild grapes are ripe, but we gathered a few gallons from a neighbor’s domestic vines last week; do we need more? ☐  Our pasture got a final cutting after all, but only about 25 small bales came from the poorly-watered field this time. ☐  I’m heading out to chip away at the pile of tree trunks Jason Rutledge brought us in March; with luck (and no limiting orthopedic “back episodes”) we’ll get a year ahead with the wood supply this time around. But with regard to winter, I will refrain from saying “Bring it on!”

Published by fred

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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2 Comments

  1. Just a word of encouragement. You are not shouting into the wind. People do read what you write, although perhaps in not the large numbers that would make it more worth your while.

    Personally I find your writing to be full of soul, thoughtful, and reflecting similar values to mine. From one writer to another I thank you. Your nearly daily blurbs on this website have created a new appreciation, for me, of the area where you live. Life sounds rich and full of peace in those southern mountains. How else would I have known?

    Bill:www.wildramblings.com

  2. Kind and supportive words are much appreciated, Bill. I don’t seem to be able to shake the sense that what I am capable of and what I am doing are both so trivial and inconsequential in the face of issues that are so massive and consequential. I imagine, perhaps foolishly, that I ought to be able to find the portal into a higher-impact way of using what few skills and remaining days I have, to devote those energies effectively to a higher purpose than blogging and begging for an audience. Meanwhile, blah blah blog, and happy to have the company!

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