Blog Evolution:

I don’t know why. Maybe it is because yesterday, as cold as it was, birds were singing. There was in this the illusion of spring and new beginnings. I spent a few hours cleaning my desk and computer of some aggravations long put off and when finished, finally, there came the sense of a clean slate, of starting fresh. We’re in a new month, and even though it starts with the coldest weather by far this winter, in some way we’re done with winter, and it’s time to move on.

One of the things I’d like to find in this blank page of the longer, warmer days ahead is a renewed sense of community among those who read and write to pages like Fragments. I’d like to regain my feeling that this page is more than a repository for personal ruminations, resources and resolutions.

While there are a few known stalwarts who come at least a couple of times every week to visit and leave a comment or email, for the most part, I don’t have any sense of “face” with blog readers really over the year since February 2006 when I was working so frantically on the book.

I’ve heard over the past few months from some folks who preface their communications with something like “you don’t know me but I visit Fragments every morning…” and often go on to say that it has meaning and importance for them. These occasional glimpses of the invisible background of readership has given me encouragement when I’ve needed it. Those little hellos have helped me to persevere, have sustained my enthusiasm, and helped dispel the illusion of isolation that settles over a hermetic blogger from the remote reaches of Appalachia when it is only his own voice he hears. Hard to believe that I’m approaching this blog’s fifth birthday. And there have been peaks and troughs all along. And more of the former, by far!

So I’m hoping for changes ahead, both in quality and quantity.

Numbers don’t tell the story. Visit counts are a poor measure to a blogger of the worth of their efforts. Even so, they can give some measure of growth or dormancy. And higher visits probably bring the higher likelihood that among those visitors will be friends of the kind I’ve made and kept and treasured over these past years of blogging.

My visit numbers haven’t changed significantly for more than a year. I’ve not made the effort to create growth. But now, I’d welcome a little higher rate of “front porch visits” to FFF. You can help. Please send the page link, rss feed link or individual posts to a friend or relative you think might appreciate whatever it is that happens here. Hopefully, they’ll thank you for it!

Have you noticed the little “letter” icon below each post on the front page of the blog lately? You can click on that and easily send a particular blog post link to a friend!

I’m going to try to be a better visitor myself, and am sorting through the best ways to keep up with 50 blogs from my list (broken at and hence part of my frustration with adding to my blogroll).

This hour of optimism and vision will pass, I’m sure. But at this moment, early on a new day in a new month and a new year, it still feels like good things can happen. But then again, maybe it’s just the caffeine talking.

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. Well, speaking solely for myself, I come here every day — sometimes twice a day to read and ruminate. You’re on my blogroll, and I intend to keep coming back.

  2. I know the feeling, Fred. It was the sense of community which drew me into blogging in the first place, and perhaps the apparent loss of that sense which on more than one occasion has nearly caused me to quit blogging. But every time, without fail, someone pops up to leave a comment which inspires me to carry on.

    Yours is one of the few blogs which I visit almost daily, albeit often only via RSS – a tool which can be both a blessing and a curse. I just thought this time I’d drop by in person, as it were, to let you know I’m still here, still reading and enjoying!



  4. Your blog is one of the sites that starts my day and has for several years. I found it after hearing your essays on the radio. That it was about Floyd County, where I have some family roots, got my attention, but I have come back for your photographs, your wonderful prose, and the adventures of the First family. I would miss you terribly if you gave up the blog.

  5. Thanks Fred. I start every workday with coffee and Fragments. I don’t stop by and say “howdy” often enough. Just think of us lurking blog readers like those neighbors that used to stop on the road to admire the work you two had done when you first moved in. You are noticed so please keep those posts coming.

  6. Not sure when your 5th Blogiversary is coming up, Fred, but I don’t know anyone but you who can claim 5 years of writing! Happy Blogiversary!!!

    I usually read you in Bloglines every morning, and the specific feed that I use says you have 16 subscribers… but you may never see those stats on your blog (or maybe you do) of the ones who read but never click onto your actual blog (like me) unless leaving a comment.

    I enjoy your pictures and writing… and knowing that the area you write about is right down the road from us. Keep up the good work!

  7. well, i guess i’m one of the stalwarts…. i had to look that word up! i didn’t even know what a blog was until i found yours…and now i’m blogging myself…. who knew? 🙂 i actually sent people your way a couple posts ago on my blog, and will continue to do so.

  8. Add me to those who hit 1st thing each morning. You are either 1st or second (sometimes Marie gets clicked first) after I wander through my email. On the days I can’t come up with something to post on my site I wonder at the fact you manage to say something on most days…

  9. Thanks, all, for your kind words. I am not thinking about ending the blog, only about what course it needs to take to make it seem more integrated into community and less like a jot-pad repository for personal clippings. That YOU are out there is encouraging. I’ll be looking for more interaction in the months ahead. Stay tuned!