Creek Jots ~ Early August

Modes of transportation: walking that feels like swimming, pushing against a heavier-than-air substance that is the atmosphere sodden and scorching in the July heat. Standing still, the dog paddle. Getting to and from the mailbox, overhand freestyle. Watch that you don’t breathe deeply with the exertion, and gulp a lung-full of invisible Mississippi River water shipped east in a wet wind.

Proof that you are an idiot: the day you flew out of Greensboro and, after making final adjustments to your suitcase before sending it through baggage, you forgot to zip it back up, and spread your carefully rolled underwear across twenty feet of concourse behind you before you realized what you’d done. Knucklehead.

One of a swelling number of things I don’t get: how intelligent people can point to the weather and make pronouncements about climate, them, being the same folks who hear of an isolated study (let’s not even mention the researcher’s lack of scientific objectivity based who who funded the research) and leap to the conclusion that a single outlier study that matches their bias negates the other three hundred study data points that established the trend. Our general scientific literacy and lack of demand for valid measures may be listed as the cause of death on humanity’s toe tag.

Another thing that bugs me: I should have been an entomologist. I tried. My ent prof said “sure fine, but just know that your research at this land grant university will be funded by the people that make the herbicides and pesticides that kill the objects of your study. If you can live with that kind of financial parasitic dependence on Monsanto, you’ll be happy here.” Shoot.

Some reasons why I would have loved Entomology: Marvelous Destroyers: The Fungus-Farming Beetles and Amazing World of Insect-Wing Color Discovered

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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. lol Well Mercury has just gone retrograde so you can expect more miscommunication and obstructions for almost the entire month. Good luck!

  2. Well when there is violent insistence the moon is made of swiss cheese and no evidence to the contrary will convince otherwise, Mercury can stick its head up Uranus and it won’t make any difference for the entire possibly short remainder of the enterprise we used to call human civil-ization. : > }

  3. ah, I am unsure of where you stand on climate change, I think we are like-minded but, having spoken out on the side of human rights V property rights I have been labelled ‘irresponsible and lacking a sense of duty’ by one of your neighbours so I am rather hesitant now…

    Suffice to say…


  4. PS at the risk of sounding rude, said neighbour is sounding more and more like one of those ‘crazy’ Americans who live in a hut in the woods and plot the downfall of the government.

  5. I’m afraid I know which neighbor, and I am at a loss to explain. This same individual is against “social justice” so I suppose we should get out of his way and give injustice a chance. He’s also against any creature than man having rights. So I for one chose not to take him on to bring to the light, the distance being too great and too dark to overcome.

  6. Fred, I am SO relieved to hear that I am not mistaken in my views. As one rather prone to supporting eco-concerns I hope that I am a responsible person with a sense of duty. It’s just that I feel responsible for the planet and my impact upon it and put the interests of its population at large above those of individuals . The greater good for the majority of people.

    My mistake was to admit that I do not consider myself to own the land on which my houses stands but merely to be a custodian for future generations, that provoked the rather insulting response, but I stand by my principles.

    I like your last two phrases.

  7. I think you meant to say “our general scientific illiteracy” instead of ‘”literacy.” How true. As a 7th grade science teacher, I can attest to the disinterest of most adolecents in learning about topics unless they already have an interest in them.
    Now, on to your entomology links: all I have to say is WOW!! Truly amazing what is still waiting for 21st century scientists to discover, waiting virtually right under our noses.