Signs of Spring 2012-04-02

The Bluebells are back, and they are spreading!

â–¶ Now I remember why I have always held that my early morning writing focus would end after March. It is because there are other priorities for morning hours and energy as the mid-days begin to heat up and later afternoons promise to wet the grass that has needed mowing for a week or more. There are other mouths to feed now. I have other masters.

â–¶ First: Louisiana Water Thrush calling, just once, from along the creek. Many more will arrive soon.

â–¶ First: Barred Owl during the wee hours, with a distinctive Who cooks for you who who who you-all. A different cadence probably unique to that one owl, his signature call.

â–¶ First cyanide millepede for Gandy to find, provoke and sniff boldly at first. Then cautiously. Their alarm smell evokes about the same reaction as taking a big whiff of full-strength chlorine or iodine.

â–¶ After working hard on the flier for Land’s Sake and allowing plenty of time for involved vendors and other participants to submit corrections, I finally laid it out and sent it off to Floyd Press and worked it up in InDesign for conversion to pdf and printing. THEN…we have corrections from the peanut gallery. It’s like herding cats.

â–¶ You can tell the season has changed. I now keep the camera bag by the back door and have stuffed a plastic shopping bag in it, for harvesting or collecting whatever might show up on the back roads between home and town.

â–¶ Speaking of backroads: for the first time in 13 years of living here, we ran into another vehicle coming our way on the .2 mile for which there is BARELY enough room for two cars to pass. There was NOT enough room for the Jumbo Truck with outrigger mirrors to pass us. And worse, the driver did not have a sense of that, and was determined to try. One wheel too far from the center line means a vehicle sunk to the frame, if not end-over into the creek. It took some while to direct him to back up far enough to pull off for us to pass. Maybe we’ll go another 13 years before that happens again.

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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. You need a life-sized Gandalf at both ends of that stretch, saying “You! Shall not! Pass!”
    Bluebells! I have never seen them before.

  2. Beautiful photo! Are these bluebells the same as the ones in Texas? Or related, maybe?
    Your comment about the plastic bag for “finds” takes me back several years to when my husband and I were able to take our dogs up into the woods on weekdays . I always carried a small spade and a ziploc bag so that I could dig up a small plant/seedling that caught my eye. My treasures often didn’t survive the transition to my yard, but the thrill was in the discovery of something new and different.