Creek Jots ~ Mid-November 2012

â–¶ Well that should do it to most anything still green: it’s 21° this morning, and the world is encrusted in the pre-dawn stillness with a heavy jewel-coating of ice crystals. I’m expecting, when the sun comes up, to find every twig and branch frosted white glistening beautiful, and the Swiss chard dead.

â–¶ Today, I get 15 stitches yanked out of my neck, which, after the pain subsides and it finally stops itching, will be a great relief. A week from today, the cast comes off my right arm. There is life on the other side of fiberglass. To be able to type again, to abandon dictation as an approximate form of communication, will be liberating to say the least, tho it will be some time before I am able to master buttons, handwriting, and other fine motor skills that require full use of my right thumb.

â–¶ Standing on the front porch with my coffee this morning just as a sky begins to brighten, I look up at our ridge that joins the neighbor’s, the one who did all the logging back in the summer. The ridge line is sparse, broken mangy-looking, now that the leaves are gone and we can better see the places where there were once the black silhouettes of many trees against the early cobalt sky and now there are few.

â–¶ Debriefing from last night’s presentation to the Native Plant Society: some wins, some losses. Some of what I wanted to say I said well enough. Some of what I said reached receptive ears. Then there were the other parts — rambling, inarticulate, disjointed but impassioned. But overall, I think people came away with the soul of what I wanted to share. They at least appreciated my good intentions, and several worthwhile connections were made towards future projects and associations.

â–¶ Since I been giving the matter a good bit of thought over the last couple of weeks, today would be a really good time to work on the part of the book that deals with the issue of our relationship to nature. But I think I will wait another week, until my thumb is reunited with its brethren and brain and my butt in this chair, writing the way I’m used to, lo these many years. Just now, I had to turn off dictation, because the dog is barking furiously at hounds at some distance that someone has seen fit to turn loose upon us in the dark.

▶  Good news on the pest extermination front: a local pest management company rep came Monday and did an inspection of our attic.  Even though we would swear we heard groundhogs with combat boots tromping around up there, he found nothing but the usual rodent population one would expect in the middle of the forest in an older home at the beginning of cold weather.

Of the options they offered, I think doing what I have always done will be my choice. It will involve D-con sealed in sandwich bags tossed in every direction through the attic access upstairs, as well as under the house. I will set a recurring reminder to do this every two months, more or less, as the bait is consumed.

Their plan was wildlife biowarfare:  setting up bait stations around the house to lure and kill all the rodents from a wide perimeter before they could get in. No thanks.

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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. I can feel your pain about your view-shed. The woods along the bayou behind our house just changed hands and the new owner had all of the underbrush and the “trash” trees mulched. It has opened up the view towards the other side of the bayou in a way we are not used to seeing. So as I sit with my morning coffee on the back porch, I too stare at sights I haven’t ever seen…And I am not sure how I feel about it right yet…

  2. Very cool procedure you use to exterminate your house rodents.
    I can imagine your sadness at the loss of the view of lacey, bare trees up on the ridgline. When I lived in Fairfield, Alabama for two years my kitchen window looked west out on a hillside with big old trees. Winter twilight through those trees is one of my favorite visual memories. We don’t get bare trees out here in So Cal.