Far From the Tree


The acorn doesn’t fall very far from the tree, the old saying goes. And best I can figure, it probably has had two meanings:

Like father, like son (or daughter). Blood runs true.

And, in an earlier time, perhaps it meant that families tended to cluster together, at least loosely, and over time, build to become a kind of kindred tribe.

Well I don’t know about the first meaning. It’s too early to tell if any of the First genes by way of our daughter will manifest in the appearance of little Taryn born a week ago, our second grand daughter. And later, for good or ill, we may see some of her momma’s personality coming through in the attitudes and aptitudes of this little acorn.

I do know this fruit fell more than a thousand miles away from both scions of the tree–on Goose Creek and in Cullowhee NC. The paternal g-parents just returned from South Dakota. We’ll be heading out that way very soon. And you can be sure there will be pictures. Little Abby shares the viewfinder now with a newer member of the tribe.

And someday–can it be?–we’ll have one tiny girl playing in the creek here with an elderly Tsuga, admired by her teenage sister, doted upon by her Grannie Annie, and photographed by her decrepit old Grampa Grumpy (who Taryn may also refer to as “the Dumpster” just like her older sister does.)

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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. Now I know who to send Garrison Keillor’s poetry selection to! I just read it & knew it was meant for someone with a new daughter (or grandaughter, as the case may be).

    SUNDAY, 23 SEPTEMBER, 2007
    Listen (RealAudio) | How to listen

    Poem: “My Daughter’s Morning” by David Swanger from Wayne’s College of Beauty. © BkMk Press, 2006. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

    My Daughter’s Morning

    My daughter’s morning streams
    over me like a gang of butterflies
    as I, sour-mouthed and not ready
    for the accidents I expect

    of my day, greet her early:
    her sparkle is as the edge of new
    ice on leafed pools, while I
    am soggy, tepid; old toast.

    Yet I am the first version
    of later princes; for all my blear
    and bluish jowl I am welcomed
    as though the plastic bottle

    I hold were a torch and
    my robe not balding terry.
    For her I bring the day; warm
    milk, new diaper, escapades;

    she lowers all bridges and
    sings to me most beautifully
    in her own language while
    I fumble with safety pins.

    I am not made young
    by my daughter’s mornings;
    I age relentlessly.

    Yet I am made to marvel
    at the durability of newness
    and the beauty of my new one.