Still Foolish, After All These Years

Slow Road Barn ~ art by Ron Campbell
Image by fred1st via Flickr

I do feel the fool, and moreso lately, as my enthusiasm peaks of an early morning, while I prepare to share some found thing, some shiny object of nature or curious motion I see in human culture.

But then, I’ve always felt a bit foolish writing to strangers on this blog since it started a few months before this allegorical homily from July 2002.

But the sense of futility, over the years, and especially the past several, grows steadily downward, as more strangers drive on past, lost on a misdirected turn to find something I don’t have and never would. I don’t expect conversation any more, or even a second time by. Must be, that’s enough to keep me even now fairly regular setting up my roadside stand first thing most every day now for nine years.

Why do I do it? I don’t suppose I’ll ever quite figure it out. And I wonder if the time will ever come when, one morning on a whim, I’ll just collect my small cages and sepia-toned images, gather them into the barn for good, wipe the ink off my hands, and be done. If there’s any time to be had after that, I’ll fill such space as I once used for such foolish hopes with some other useless but hopeful endeavor. Or none at all.

I suppose we’ll just have to wait until the end of the story to find out.

The Strange Farmer of Erewhon: a blogger’s allegory by Fred First, July 2002

Barn pen and ink of our barn by Ron Campbell, Dreamcatcher Meadows, Floyd VA


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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 don’t need to re-read your allegory, I remember it so well. I hope you will always keep writing, if for no one else but me. I read you every day I’m in town. I appreciate every type of entry your write, even the techie ones, since I live with a similarly obsessed techie. The naturalist ones I love, and the ones full of information and passion about our environmental crises are read with great interest. Don’t stop, Fred!!

  2. I am a cyberspace traveler who turns off the electronic highway, takes a left the turn and stops by to pass the time of say, enjoy a virtual cup of tea and a little chat and I really appreciate this detour from my daily venturing into the criminal streets and dark alleys of the internet

    Added to which I am of an age when I am no longer embarrassed to stop and stare at a leaf, flower, rabbit on the green and when I take enormous pleasure in the simplest of discoveries, so I feel somewhat as we you are kindred spirits.

    Thank you from an internet security analyst and fellow foolish person

  3. I regret that I have not commented much, but I guess you know that I stop by every day. Your blog hits a sweet spot for me that I really enjoy. I’m never quite sure where you’re going to be and that’s part of the charm. You can be funny, self-effacing, serious, wondrous, and,in general, basically reveal yourself as ‘one who notices things’. I try to notice things too and feel an increasing need to do so as I get older, but it is so hard with all the distractions in the modern world. Your blog can get me back to that. I’d say it’s “grounding” but truly it’s more of a spiritual thing, maybe an “untethering”. I can think of only one other blogger that I think accomplishes this and, of all things, she’s a crafter and sewer, knitter, etc. I landed there by accident and keep going back, not for the handwork I can assure you, Ha! Her photos can be evocative as well, though very different from yours. I just like the way she notices small things and her writing is terrific, as yours so often can be. We may be few in number but we would miss you if you quit! Oh, and I like the techy stuff too… you know I do!