Louisiana Waterthrush, Seiurus motacilla, offs...
Louisiana Waterthrush, Seiurus motacilla, offset printing after painting (watercolor or acrylic?). Altered from original in plate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t have time to think and write this morning. We have company coming and the warning sirens of Dresden before the bombers blare shrilly from the roof tops. And yet…

I stepped out the back door to shake out the dog’s bedding, and stopped to listen:

The robin-like warble of the several scarlet tanagers who defend territories with benign melodies of possession; the Louisiana Waterthrush, who come early and stay late along the waterways and road, singing Sweet! Sweet! Chalybeate!; and for the first time this morning (though if I’d been listening, they’ve been around) the Indigo Buntings sing their couplets from the tallest trees–the dead snags of Hemlocks stark and skeletal over behind the barn.

The lull was brief, and there will not be much time for reverie because we are under siege. Some of us are. Others still try to make their peace with the order of things, and bird song, an offering accepted towards that end.

Right away, sir.

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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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