Fragments 7th Blogiversary

Free-range, pick yer own
Free-range, pick yer own (early blog pix from April 2002)

Spring 2002 to Spring 2009: seven years, dozens of radio essays, hundreds of newspaper column inches, thousands of hyper-local, variegated blog posts and hundreds of thousands of words later…

I read about blogs in 2001 I think, at Lockergnome where Chris Pirillo was talking about how cool it was to have a persistent, updatable, multi-author tool like the web-log he’d just started–like writing in a word processor, he said, except instead of hitting SAVE you hit PUBLISH!

I started one. What the heck, it was free, and I’d abandon it in a week or two. I gave it a frivolous name that reflected my fondness for affiliation and consonant rhyme, full of “F”s. Silly, but no matter. It’d die a death of neglect for sure.

But then, I really needed to talk it out. I could see even then in March ’02 that trouble was on the horizon at work. The owners were about to give me an offer where the choice was easy: suck up or quit. I took that invitation to begin digging for treasure in a new place, certain there was none to be found in another year in that setting. It seemed like a disaster at age 54–and an opportunity. But for what?

With no one to talk to out here in the bush, I began to write, sharing the blog entries with my kids and a few friends, writing out this seeming tragedy of my life at the time. None seemed very interested–until I wrote a piece from the gut shortly after I’d told my clinic-owner bosses they could take my job and…

And it was strangers who wrote back. “Your words touched me; what you said was hard to say, but you said it well” and by writing out my issues and fears, I understood my situation a little better. How do you know what you think until you see what you say?

A few weeks later I found out how to post my digital pictures that no one but me had seen til then. I’d had a digital camera (a little swivel-body Nikon) for exactly two years that spring, but really didn’t have a purpose for the hundreds of pictures of mushrooms, insects, the creeks…but I had old dreams.

I remembered something I had written when I was 26 after first moving to Virginia–a letter to a small regional magazine that had a section called “photo-essays.” I liked the sound of that. I wrote a letter to accompany some slides I submitted, telling them that to put words and images together was my ultimate hope as a new photographer and writer. And that was that.

It was almost 30 years before I followed through with that desire to combine photography and language.

And here we are. Turns out, the new book will have more than 50 small black and white images that will likely be disappointed as images but helpful in telling the tale. And so I feel like I’ve finally done what I intended, more or less.

Things do take time to move in fits and starts from hope and possibility to fact and actuality. Some dreams–like this one–we live long enough to realize. Others, if we’re fortunate and always keep one or more going, will die with us. And so it goes.

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.

Articles: 3013


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. It all does add up doesn’t it? In one way I’m the most unlikely blogger (technology) and in another way it was a perfect fit just waiting to happen. I just hit my 4 year anniversary blogging. It had me wondering how big can a blob…I mean blog…get?

    You’re my fairy blog godfather, Fred.

  2. Mine, too. I can’t believe I’ve been doing it for 4 years – and have no intention of stopping. Although much of mine is silly cartoons and jokes, I enjoy the feedback and the wisdom of others.

    Congratulations, Fred, and thanks for keeping on. We really enjoy and learn from you.

  3. Happy Seventh Fred…I guess I am the newcomer to the group…coming up on my third anniversary in one way, as a blogger, but my tenth if you go back to my old GeoCities Genealogy “web log” and Family History Site, all of which are now saved in a blog of their own.

  4. “Other [dreams], if we’re fortunate and always keep one or more going, will die with us.” What a lovely way to think about not realizing our dreams, Fred. Just another example of why your readers keep on coming. A very satisfied anniversary to you.

  5. “How do you know what you think until you see what you say?” –Good point! Getting those words down keeps my thoughts organized and releases creativity.
    SEVEN years! That is commitment! Thank you for that commitment. Happy Anniversary!

  6. Seven years! Wow, Fred, what an accomplishment! Congratulations to you. I reckon I must be a young whippersnapper blogwise at a mere one and a half years, though sometimes it feels like much longer. Anyway, here’s wishing many more years of happy writing and picture-taking for you—-whether for your blog or otherwise.

  7. “How do you know what you think until you see what you say?” Indeed. So very true, at least for me. I’ve been reading you for a bit over two years but Beth is my fairy blog godmother (thanks, Colleen – wonderful phrase!). I loved your rotating header images, so when I set mine up, that was a “must-have” feature. Lots of credit to lots of people for me and you’re right up there at the top of the list! Here’s to lots more great blogging!

  8. Your post, Fragments 7th Blogiversary, really touched my heart. Your dilemma at age 54 — your abrupt transition from one stage of your life to another. All very insightful.

    At 50 I went through the same type of transition. Scary at the time. But now I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. The experience spoke to me — it made me realize what I really wanted from life after all my years of living it. An awakening for sure.

    I particularly like your stance on environmental issues as well as the terrific photos!

    Great post — barbara

  9. It was fun this morning to link to this old post. Now it’s 7 years further along on your blog. I know things have changed a lot, but I am glad you are still at it.