Paradox of Spring

We’re returned from less than a week away, and there has been an explosion of green!

Having just come from the vast plains of South Dakota, to be enveloped by this leafery is a little like swimming underwater after sailing the vast expanse of oceans. It takes a little time to remember the full-immersion feel of it, appreciate the flow of creeks, hear the sounds of birds in the trees so close at hand.

But it is not fully spring even yet. This morning, there is a heavy frost on the pasture, gray green in the first light. A fire perks in the wood stove with what I had thought was wood put back for October, a time when these tiny translucent leaves that hide our hillsides will fly brown and brittle in the cold winds.

Good to be home.

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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. I came home two weeks ago from a visit to Minnesota. Though the temperature had just turned warm up there, everything was dull brown, dead-of-winter. So when I flew back into Greensboro, the lush green seemed almost unreal – Hollywood. And down here on the Piedmont, we’d already been enjoying spring for many weeks – eating meals on the patio, dogwood and azaleas blooming, etc.

    Each part of this amazing country has its own beauties (though some are too subtle to appreciate easily) but at this time of year, nowhere beats this part.

  2. … glad you have returned, Fred, and I am looking forward to pictures of your western rambles.

    Spring is bursting forth here too, the first wildflowers in the woods and songbirds courting in the hedgerows. Evenings and early mornings are cold, a few degrees above freezing, and we are glad of our woodstove too.

  3. fa la la la la. I love the word leafery. Happily — because most of my garden is in and my corn is an inch tall alredy — we didn’t get a frost over here. (Oops was that bragging….sorry!)

  4. I remember that same feeling coming back a few springs ago from Vancouver (itself pretty lush) and being amazed at that swimming sensation, as if the undergrowth would at any minute crawl out from the roadsides and swallow up the asphalt, turn the roads into green rivers…; speaking of which, have you gotten much rain on the GC this season?

  5. I experienced the same thing when I returned from the north east back in early April. It was truly wonderful to drive from winter to spring!!

  6. welcome back….. we just noticed that visiting MD over the weekend. we had been there over easter and everything was still brown and wintery, but 3 weeks later it was a totally different landscape.

  7. You had frost this morning and on my commute home this evening the bank sign was proclaiming 85 degrees. It’s still 80 here as I sit unwinding and catching up on the blog world. Hope nothing went crazy while you were westerly…