I’ve Been Away

When a rooted person like the one I have willingly become is uprooted every so often to travel to unfamiliar places, the water, the air, the soil taste and smell and feel unfamiliar to us, different than our native ground–and there is a kind of transplant shock.

So it is out of that kind of mild travel-trauma that I write my morning pages this morning–our first morning rising from our own bed, to our own desks, books, coffee cups, computers and stacks of mail, with the family dog in place at last where she belongs, a kenneled victim of transplant shock perhaps more drastic than our own.

Travel changes the traveler. The tourist, not so much. Travel moves more than bodies through space, across map inches. Travel is to force yourself outside of that comfortable, anchored, hidebound way of you see the same old world in the same old way. This is why “travel abroad” is a common component of a “complete education” for students who can afford it. I would have had more of it. Now, a little will suffice.

So what has changed, other than the grass growing six inches green and thick outside the back door?

Time was that, on an occasion such as this, I’d have debriefed my trip in plain view and no small detail, expounding my disappointments, pleasant surprises, here-there now-then comparisons and motel-restaurant reviews.

But one of the lessons of being away is to know once more that the world does not wait for you to return. And the world is not waiting anxiously to hear my reflections on a tiny change of orbit. The planets remain aligned somehow, even after our odometer shows 1800 miles of uprootedness.

So instead, I’ll return to my regular showcase of insects, wildflowers, garden and gardening snippets and grampa tales. But I’ve been away. And I might yet find occasion to make you watch my gulf-coast slideshow on the wall.

[su_highlight background=”#eadbab”]IMAGE: an unidentified “white” thistle common along the Gulf Coast. It was an especially difficult time for flower photography while we were in the Deepest South because the storm winds blew constantly. For many in MS and AL, the winds caused a bit more than a photographic nuisance this week.[/su_highlight]

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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. LOVE this photo and so glad you are back, Fred. Yes, I’ve also experienced what you describe, and I continue to believe that travel is broadening and a GOOD thing.

  2. I agree with Becky. Travel is always a good thing, in my book. Sorry you had to deal with such bad weather this time!

  3. Ahh, nice to know that you are back home safe and sound, Fred! I am glad that you and Ann were able to visit the Bayou. I do wish the weather had been more agreeable with my plans to take a hike with you about the creek bed. The thousands of while Spider Lilies intermingled with the Blue Flag Irises are a sight to behold! (With the flooding they are nigh underwater at the moment.) Or perhaps if the winds had been calmer, the local alligators might have paid us a visit while on the pier. Instead of these fine entertainments, you had to endure the ramblings of a stir-crazy, old bayou lady! Hope you make another trip down this way sometime soon!

  4. What an extreme change of scene: from Blue Ridge to bayou. I had a southern Alabama friend when I lived in Birmingham, and she said the rolling landscape made her feel seasick, after a
    Ice time of only flat landscape.