Hindman: What Just Happened Here?


As you might have ascertained from my sporadic and detached posts over the past four or five days, my writer’s butt is not in my writer’s chair at my writer’s desk and this brain has a hard time putting words together without that rump-hand-brain connection intact. Guess that means I’d make a crummy travel writer. And I have been traveling. And oh my, have I been busy.

Hindman Settlement School is only a four hour drive from home, but it has been a whole ‘nother galaxy this week, and my head is a’bustin’ with words to process: words about and from the top tier of Appalachian authors; words about the history of Hindman and its most prominent saints, living and gone on; sad and determined words about mountain top removal. And I have so many conversations to process with regard to my own future work.

Fifteen minute ago I spent about that much time with George Ella Lyon, a name that has been in the search engines associated with Fragments now for years because of her “Where I’m From” poem that has been so widely used via this blog and countless writing workshops. She has a good eye for voice and audience and is a quick study; her comments and suggestions about the nature-oriented full-color book were so helpful. But I’m left with a massive bunch of things to process here.

You know, I don’t think I’ll even try to tell Ann about my week. The names and topics of conversation and lecture would mean nothing to her, perhaps neither would they to most of you. But I most likely will come back often to what has transpired this week, mostly for my own ultimate understanding and recollection. Let’s just say a week at Hindman is an expansive experience. Hope I can find the words to tell you more.

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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. Thanks for sharing what I call the overload that happens when so much is being absorbed, floating through, observed with all of our senses alert.

    Used to being a bit solitary, quiet, reflective, everything suddenly seems to explode with color, sound, words. Don’t even try to explain, just experience…

  2. Hi Fred – beautiful photo of the black swallowtail…….Yesterday I caught photos of a female monarch laying eggs on the milkweed in my garden – so far I have found 3 eggs ……….hopefully in the next 5 to 7 days there will be larvae emerging from the eggs……………

  3. I think you’re experiencing what I call brain exhaustion. Too much info at one time for this brain to process, quickly!

    But you sound exhilarated, and thrilled with your new knowledge; and that’s what matters most, even if many of us won’t understand.

  4. Fred, been awhile since my last porch visit but we caught up fast. Glad to know you are still there to keep me awake on the midnight shift. Like the new look. Mathews looks dry but feels like a towel fresh used and wadded. Awfully tempting to head for the hills, put the sultry bay in the rear view. If one of the forecasted storms comes calling, just might do that. Anything over a Cat one, the entire county will be told to head for the nearest exit sign. ‘Cept those sworn to protect and defend. If everyone has departed, who needs dispatchers? My point exactly. I’m heading for the hills. Thanks again for sharing the higher ground.