Missing the Water

Above it All
Image by fred1st via Flickr

I think it’s finally happening: I turn the spigot and nothing comes out. The water-table has fallen to a point where the well is dry.

Thankfully, it’s only a metaphor. We can still flush and brush under our roof so far this summer. But my writer’s water pressure is zilch. There’s nothing flowing from the tap this week, and no replenishing rainclouds on the horizon.

And it’s really not so much a dry socket as the daily-reinforced knowledge that there are just not many out there holding out their glasses to be filled with what might otherwise pour out of this particular stream.

And there is the fact that much of what I would serve up won’t fit in a blog reader’s shot-glass capacity to imbibe. But I have no destination in mind to place a 1500 word essay on eco-economics, the politics of fear, the Ecology and Economics of Biodiversity, yadayadayada.

I’ve reached this impasse before, many times, when confronting the “voice and branding” of this nine-year-old web journal. It never does my tiny stream of readership any good to go off-brand and bring up issues that make readers squirm–even if I feel strongly we need to squirm hard and soon.

The energies to do the work of blogging, especially when the topic is substantial rather than just personal ramble, run low in the summer. There’s a definite pattern for this, over the years. And local Virginia cities have set new HIGHs for night time lows, and this would-be writer does not wake feeling perky and driven when it’s already too hot before first light.

So I think I’ll actually shut the computer down until at least tomorrow and recalibrate. I’ll go squash bean beetles, take the little Canon and find a closeup, pick up the binocs and see if I can find that scarlet tanager I hear calling incessantly outside the window, and see how many different smells I can pick up–now, while it’s still as cool as it’s gonna get.

Maybe I’ll be back online after a reboot.

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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. A few of the big name tech nerds have redirected their blog domains to their Google+ account. They say they are getting way more engagement with readers there than they ever got on their blog.

    Maybe try writing there – or reposting some of your favorites?

  2. Traction here would require wide and deep “circles” and I’m not there yet, and haven’t quite “got” the Google+ rhythm yet. But it seems like something to consider down the road.

  3. Just so’s you know, you have lurkers. (At least one.) I always read, and frequently Facebook links you post, even though I don’t always have a direct comment to your blog post.

  4. I am most appreciative to know there are “regulars” and even multiple-year regulars out there. I’d still do it knowing there was not a soul, because the blog is a searchable “book of days.”

    Blogging is a mixed bag. When in human history could someone write fresh stuff at 6am one morning, and by six at night, a couple of hundred from around the globe have laid eyes on that fresh text. But then, even if the text is a thousand words, the dwell time stats show the average is 30 seconds, no matter what content is presented.

    Blogging goes wide but shallow. But at least it goes, and I’m thankful for such a powerful tool, and in that, to offer some tiny outflow, even as I drink gratefully rom the firehose of information that others provide.

  5. Good grief…it’s Bastille Day. Go out and liberate something…someone!! Play in the creek…it’s cooler today — Rejoice and enjoy breathing…the mid-to-high ninties and humidity at 110 will soon be back to beat us down again.

  6. Yes, Fred. The hard work you do of beautifully communicating on your important subjects is not something to do in the summertime. The issues need your full mental capacity. Furthermore, they surely need to get more readership through Google+, or whatever. This fall, keep on drip, drip, dripping your message on your readership, even if we only average 30 seconds on reading it. Some are spending way more time reading, and some are spending lots more think-time on it. Also, please don’t turn off the spigot this summer on your usual blog topics! Photos, lots of them, and your lovely word pictures of your natural world will be greatly appreciated.

  7. Re 30 seconds: Some of us are extremely fast readers.
    Not checking in as often because I now look at a computer screen most of 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for work. But I still read and enjoy the blog, one of just a few I’ve pared down to. And I hope to be there when you speak in Danville this fall.

  8. Hey Lin, that’d be great. Reminds me I need to be thinking about exactly what I’m going to do with that space–something visual-based, and hopefully, something that might open up some interesting discussion as well. Hope to see you there.

  9. Fred, as you know I’m new to your blog. but I come here almost daily (more than once today, waiting for your daily offereing). I rarely comment, but frquently read and take your thoughts with me through the day. Early this morning I posted links to your Fragments on my personal Facebook profile and on the Facebook page I set up to house some of my photos. A cyber-friend from Oklahoma has already posted a comment there saying “thanks”. And I say, “Thank you, Fred, for the courage and willingness to do the things you do.”

  10. That link to Richard Louv was excellent. I put it on Facebook. I have a great book to recommend to you, Fred. Cabin Fever: A Suburban Father’s Search for the Wild, by Tom Fate. It is described as “one man searches for balance between family and solitude, nature and technology, art and activism.” Sure sounds right up your alley.

  11. Also, be careful if you are tracking stats with Google Analytics. Analytics doesn’t measure any time until somebody goes to a 2nd page on your site. If they click to the home page, read the post, and then go off to their next site, it registers as a 0 time spent on the site by the reader.

    Also, I only click through from Google Reader if I want to comment. So you probably rarely see any “evidence” of my reading even though I did read the whole post!