March Memories: Where We Were Then

Do you remember what was going on in your life in late March of years past? I think I can recall more spring and fall events than winter or summer for some reason–maybe because they are times of flux and change, and one takes compass bearings more often than in the dead of winter or doldrums of summer. March marks the time of rising sap, bursting buds and new hope. It is the time people put houses on the market and think of travels to come. At any rate, here are some easily recalled March markers from our own scrapbook…

Sixty Four Years Ago: I can’t quite remember, but it was about to get very bright and cold and noisy all of a sudden. And I was very hungry.

Twenty One Years Ago: Our dreams of having a little farm had taken seven years of living on a busy street in Wytheville. Finally, we anticipated moving to 22 acres a few miles from town, where my kids would grow up “country” and have a horse, chickens, and our first lab, Zachary. Mother Earth, we have arrived!

Fifteen Years Ago: Kids had fledged. We knew for sure that we were moving to Floyd. Or that I was moving. Turned out Ann stayed in Morganton another year in a tiny apartment while I moved here to run the pitiful little PT clinic and live in the cabin out on the parkway. In March, I began the process of saying goodbye to friends and our temporary urban lifestyle, ready to move back to our mountains.

Thirteen Years Ago: We had bought the farm. We walked the “new road” along the pasture (bushwhacked is a more descriptive verb) during the early blush of spring, and I was smitten with the serenity and majesty of that special place at the neck of the gorge formed by a stream I would eventually call Nameless Creek. We have two pairs of permanent lawn chairs back there now.

Six Years Ago: The files for Slow Road Home had been sent to Edwards Brothers for 1000 books. The wait was agony, the delivery, a blessed event–like a birth–to hold my ‘baby’ in my hands.

Three Years Ago: I was in the final stages of book preparation for What We Hold In Our Hands. My target drop-dead date was in early May, to have books in hand for the Mt Rogers Naturalist Rally. They came in time, with two days to spare.

One Year Ago: I was enjoying my last week of thumb pain before April 1 surgery (basal joint reconstruction). I never had any post-surgical pain, and I have good use of my left hand now. The question of what to do about the right hand remains, but maybe if I ignore it, it will go away?

SPECIAL! (For both of you who read all the way to the end). For the first time, I’m publishing links to the entire books you can read online at ISSUU, with the hope that maybe one of you will want to hold one or both books in your hands and order them. It’s springtime after all, and I’m getting all giddy with the notion of writing, speaking and meeting new readers.

Slow Road Home ~ a Blue Ridge Book of Days for Online Reading

What We Hold In Our Hands: a Slow Road Reader for Online Reading

Order Information for Both Books

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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. I know better than you what was going on 64 years ago. we had just moved back to Bham. after your dad had graduated from UA. Bea bought the house. I was so excited it had a furnace and a dishwasher. I had never even SEEN one, much less HAD one. But we were happy. We had ever had central heat before! It was an oil furnace and only worked about half the time!

  2. I love your mom’s reminiscence! The thrill of finding Nameless Creek on your first walk strikes me hard, too. The chaters of a long life story are fun to recount and recall.