Flights of Fancy: Part Three (3 of 3)

Springtime fills the broad coves and uninhabited rich valleys, the vast variety of hardwoods showing off their yellow-green early leafery. Pines on western flanks speak of a history of fires. A frail tiara of dark evergreens, spruce and fur, crown the highest peaks. They persist as remnants of an ice-age forest that once spread across much lower elevations this far south, back when a colder, glacier-dominated climate prevailed. Sadly, these cold-adapted relict forests are destined to disappear forever as valley temperatures warm sooner and rise higher as global climate heats up, eventually pushing these mountain conifers (and associated amphibians, invertebrates and flowering plants) into the history books.

As usual, I was giving a running travelogue of all this to my magazine-reading seat-mate, gushing in tones not unlike the ravings of one who has just encountered in person a life-long hero at arm’s reach. How could she not be as heart-thumpingly exultant by virtue of this reality show below us–this real earth, these coveted places of the heart, our mountains!

I should know by now. I’m an odd sort, with a love affair for this stunningly-magnificent planet that to some, maybe most, seems on the lunatic fringe. I guess that’s what 40 years of biology-watching, wildflower photographing, pond-water microscope exploring, tree-hugging and the occasional day of quiet solitude over decades in and near nature will do to a perfectly normal brain.

So I’m wondering if the large lady between me and the porthole might be willing to change seats if I look sufficiently needy, especially as we descend among the snow-capped volcanic mountains that surround Seattle–and if I promise to keep my high-altitude geology-and-botany fan-boy adulation to myself.

Flights of Fancy: Part One, Part Two

NOTE: I intended to write a paragraph on this topic, but it felt so good to be free of the cast, that my hands wanted to keep typing, so I let them.

NOTE: I used to say, when teaching, that if I had the attention and brain-heart connection with ONE student (out of as many as 120 in a class) then I could muster the will to go on, and could rally some enthusiasm for the task. Failing that, I have walked out of classes. So thanks for the ONE (maybe two) blog readers who actually connect. And I keep the daily journal public, still, because I know you’re listening.

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. What a good post!! This reads more like your posts before the first book – and I love it. I share your fascination with the planet.

  2. I’m glad you intend to keep on posting, even when you think there are only one or two of us out here.
    I got to drive all the way to the east coast in our RV in 2004. We timed it perfect, and were in the Blue Ridge mountains in early May. The variety of colors in the new leaves was as great as in fall colors, just more delicate pastels. I never remember noticing that when I was young, living in Tennessee.
    That is great that you are out of the cast!

  3. Yes, keep on, keeping on. We are listening and enjoying every wildflower, every mountain, every tree, and many of the bugs! So glad you can type once again..without the cast!

  4. Keep up the wonderful posts. I’ve been following for a long time and should have provided that feedback long before now. Enjoy your journey out west!

  5. I second (or, perhaps, I should say “seventh”) the motion of all the other commenters, and want to reiterate what Gary said. We need our daily fix of your tales of the mountains, which you express in such a creative, descriptive way.

    I hope you do let us know if the window seat lady agreed to swap. Hopefully, she wasn’t like the poshly dressed and bejeweled woman who, although not taking advantage the view, declined a request by my son to swap seats so that he could rest his vertebrae-fractured neck, which was in a neck brace. I’m not sure why anyone would decline such a request under those circumstances if they weren’t enamored of the view. A matter of principle, I guess. After all, it WAS her seat!

    Anyway, I am sure there are many of us out here in cyberworld who enjoy your posts beyond measure.

  6. I have to say this, DITTO all of the above comments, no point in me repeating, when all of the above people have said it all so well!

    I will say, that I am really glad, Fred, that you are an “Odd Sort”
    and, the rest of us “Odd Sorts” will follow, and read you, to the ends of this Beautiful Earth and Universe.

    Please continue. And also, many thanks to Ann, and Tsuga, for their unending support of you and your work.


  7. I love to get the window seat on my flights so I can enjoy the changing terrain. I wonder how people can sit and not be enthralled by the glimpses of our wonderful countryside.
    Thanks for your wonderful blog posts.