Finding Water: A Draft

So I may have mentioned (and perhaps one reader noticed) that I am accumulating draft pieces toward a third book if all goes well. (All never goes well, sometimes something does, OTOH, and I’ll take it.)

The working title changes from time to time. Currently is stands as “One Place Understood: Field Notes from Earth.”

The title comes from a Eudora Welty quote I have taken on as a writing mission statement. The southern writer tells us “One place understood helps us know all places better.”

And so the hoped-for forty or so pieces of the would-be book offer some personal reflections on knowing my one place–the geography, geology, human and natural resources and relationships within which I am an embedded writer. The sum total of all this I speak of as a “personal ecology.”

So since I have to get back to the writing (after a short break in the cool of the morning to pick blackberries) I will send you to Medium, should there be one among you web butterflies not prone to sipping quickly and moving on. This is a fifteen minute read and it is a first draft, due for revision(s)  You can go there and just look at the pictures. I know you’re a busy browser and probably have to get back before you suffer Facebook withdrawal syndrome.

This story begins in 1981 and tells the stories of my relationship to water over the course of my adult life. And as will be the case with most if not all of the bits of the book, it moves from this water out my window, with a nod to all our water on the Water Planet.

Finding Water / at ( 

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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. The story of digging out your spring at your first farm was a very good read. When I got to the sentence that starts “Watershed:” I almost stopped reading because it appeared to be a geology textbook defining terms.The paragraph continued just fine and I’m glad I read on, but the first part was the best!.

  2. This is the kind of feedback I am pleased to have after a first run. The revision (of all the pieces) will do a lot of reordering, shifting emphasis and making it all more compelling and fluid than the “brain dump” getting-it-down first draft. I went ahead and put it out there, lacking any frame of reference but my own to know if there is any merit in all this other than keeping me off the streets. Thanks for taking the time to read it, and for reading, ultimately, to the end.

    OTOH, I make no apology for explaining the geology of local water. It has consequences–such as with the pending but not yet built nat-gas pipeline that would come down 40% grades through karst limestone prone to cave-ins, sinkholes etc.

    I believe that a proper grounding in our sense of place begins in the rock that makes the soil that supports the native vegetation that supports the animal community. That lives in the house that Jack built.

  3. I really like this, Fred! The geology for me was essential to the notion of “Understanding” of place. This is very thoughtful ecological writing without being in any way polemic. Can’t wait to read more!