Reaching The End of the Moveable Walk

Pink toilet paper
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You know you’ve been in too many airports when you’re walking the grassy median for several blocks, and every time you reach a cross-road, you hear the warning (in several different languages) that you should watch your step.

â–² Uncle. No more travel in our foreseeable future. Missouri. New York. South Dakota. Home for good. None of our flights were cancelled. One was on time. Most were full to the gills as the airlines have pared flights to the bone, and shrunk seat space and in-flight services to a bare minimum. We won’t fly so much in the future because we don’t like it, but more than that, we’ll fly less frequently because we can’t afford it. In the Pure Social Security days for both of us in the not too distant future, we won’t cavalierly spend $2k for a four-day baby-sitting expedition. And not to worry: as there is no biofuel or solar replacement for jet fuel, it won’t be long before air travel is only for tycoons,  military and pop-culture and sports icons who, of course, are more deserving of luxuries. IF we were going to fly again, I might try Hipmunk.

â–² Ah, to be home–at the end of the Moveable Walk. Our chickens missed us. So I was saying hello yesterday morning, and the girls gathered round as I sat down on the three-timber railroad tie wall in a light drizzle at the edge of the garden walkway. Dionne, the black hen, hurried to me expectantly since I usually will try to scare up some nice pill bugs or a grasshopper for her. At my feet at the base of the railroad ties were some flat stones angled against the bottom timber, left over from a previous project. I tipped one over to reveal in the moist shade whatever might be palatable to a chicken. And there behind the rock and between my feet was a good sized copperhead–only the second we’ve seen here in 11 years. Oh crap. By the time I shooed the hens out of the way, the snake had retreated between the timbers. I replaced the stones for a future warm day when I’ll have shovel in hand. Most snakes, I’m okay with. Not this one–not there!

â–² In a house with three females, can you imagine: we ran out of toilet paper–and remembered this on the way home from a Legos Run to Rushmore Mall. We spotted a Family Dollar kind of place an uncertain few blocks in the distance down a busy cross street and took two stabs at driving right to it–and would have, except for it being the wrong direction from us down a one-way street. By snaking through a car dealership lot, I was able to park close-ish. But getting to the Toilet Paper store meant crossing a Rally-busy pedestrian-unfriendly four lane. I grabbed my purchase quickly as guy shoppers do–the smallest quantity I could find so it could be concealed in a bag. Not. So I’m clutching an unadorned 8-pack of Super Squishy as I furtively cross in front of a dozen screaming Harleys stopped the light. Great. Heck. They think they got balls. Let’m try what I just did!

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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. Yeah, I’m felling sorta exlaxic. Slept in my own bed, and even with this chest cold and laryngitis, there’s no place like home to write from. But you can see what kind of blather happens. Outta be a law…