Scattered. But GOOD Scattered

Yikes! My desk suffers from a bad case of the piles. Somewhere underneath Appalachian Voice, NRDC newsletter, Today in PT, Hindman Summer Brochure, assorted bills and solicitations et cetera is the Phoenix Hardwoods oak surface of a clean slate, not seen in some weeks. And this, in spite of my Getting to Done attempts (even incorporating GTD into Gmail. Tried it?)

Front burner: getting ready for Community College book talk Thursday (that’s just tomorrow!). I think I’m okay for baggage–carton of books, change purse, bookmarks, laptop slide show for the pre- and post-meeting perusal. What I don’t have together is my 30-40 minute talk. On the one hand, there is SO MUCH that will spring from the audience–old friends and neighbors we haven’t seen in decades–that I want to stay unscripted so the conversation can go where the energy of the moment dictates. On the other hand, because of the level of potential distraction, I need some notes to guide me and not let me wander down any rabbit hole that comes along. There is a certain fear in operating according to a very loose script, but that seems to have worked out okay in the past. Still, I’m a little bit anxious. But good ANXIOUS.

Some of you read this in rough form a few weeks back. I massaged it some, and turned it into an essay: Nose for Winter. It will air live on WVTF this Friday. You can listen online now. The intro goes like this:

Anyone who walks Virginia’s fields and forests in winter might easily forget they even have a sense of smell. The olfactory world of the cold months can seem a trackless desert for the nose. But WVTF essayist Fred First says if you know where to look, you can find ways to use your sense of smell even on the coldest winter day.

If I’d finished the article, I’d most definitely have something to say about Richard Louv’s Orion essay, Leave No Child Inside. I highly recommend this topic for your consideration and for discussion here next week. I think this is a crucial issue, and one to which I can, perhaps, contribute–with my writing, photography and general concerns for esthetic and biological awareness, especially among the nation’s cloistered and apathetic young people. An excerpt to lure you over to the article:

We do know that when people talk about the disconnect between children and nature–if they are old enough to remember a time when outdoor play was the norm–they almost always tell stories about their own childhoods: this tree house or fort, that special woods or ditch or creek or meadow. They recall those “places of initiation,” in the words of naturalist Bob Pyle, where they may have first sensed with awe and wonder the largeness of the world seen and unseen. When people share these stories, their cultural, political, and religious walls come tumbling down.

Over on Nameless Creek today: Abby asks Dumpa a nature question.

I could go on, but I know very few are left reading this far down a blog screen. Lost most shortly after YIKES! Does anybody know if there is an “extended reading” function (to hide most of longish posts) that can be added to blogger like used to exist for Moveable Type? Would be nice. More as it happens…

Share this with your friends!

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’ll have to click over and read that essay- “no child left inside”. sounds very pertinent. i’ve been reading a lot on charlotte mason’s approach to education and so much of her teaching was done outside, in nature….with an emphasis on being very aware of your natural surroundings. some of the attainments by age 6 are being able to describe in their own words 3 nearby bodies of water, being able to identify 3 trees, 3 types of wildflowers, be able to tell 3 stories about their pets, and being able to walk out there door and know which way is north. my sister homeschools using this approach and i am amazed at how in tune my nephews and nieces are with the world around them.

  2. Fred, thanks for the link to GTD into Gmail. I have been a David Allen fan since his first interview in Fast Company back in the 90’s. Read the original book, tried to get the company I work for to do one of his seminars locally. I once had the Outlook addin for his program which has been misplaced over the years and the computer changes. I look forward to trying this with Gmail.

  3. I read this post this morning just before I hurried off for work. But I had to return to tell you that your first sentence had me laughing out loud as I sat here among my own piles. How do we get ourselves in such a mess?

    I am looking forward to hearing your views on Leave No Child Inside. As a veteran teacher of young children, it has been obvious over the years that even rural children have become much less connected to their natural surroundings.

  4. I am so glad you linked me to an e-mailable version of the article “No Child Left Inside.” I read the article in another publication than Orion; I believe it was in “The Sun” my favorite magazine. This issue is one of my biggest concerns. I taught 7th grade science for many years, and my big project for the students was called the Special Place project. The assignment was to spend an hour or more every week for about 6 weeks in the most natural spot available to them, and do various activities suggested by a book called “Journey to the Heart of Nature.” The kids enjoyed it and I felt so good about it. I am in Los Angeles County, so encouraging contact with the natural world was a no-brainer for a science teacher. I hope this movement to re-connect kids with nature takes off in a very big way.