A Week of Words

Slow Road Home: a Blue Ridge Book of Days
Image by fred1st via Flickr

Have you ever run across this quote from Thoreau, holding up the value of language as art:

A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself. It may be translated into every language, and not only be read but actually breathed from all human lips; – not be represented on canvas or in marble only, but be carved out of the breath of life itself. — H D Thoreau

This week, I’ll be lifting up the ‘language and art’ of earth care, using both the spoken (from the written) word and full-color imagery of those earthly scenes that are in themselves stories.

Language, written, expressed, remembered and recreated in the mind of the listener or reader is the most interactive of art media–so that Henry David didn’t have a clue how widely dispersed his own words would someday be, how many human lips would breathe out his intimate experiences in nature, how many lives would find an altered center of being because of his art.

So, in celebration of language and light in this season where we give homage to our many blessings, go to Save the Word and claim a cast-off bit of former speech from the blessings of language to make your own, to commit to use correctly and often in your conversations this week. I’m going to fetch one to use today in my meeting with listeners and readers and friends at Westlake Library, tomorrow evening in Rural Retreat, and on Saturday at Huffville Church.

Good words to you all!

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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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