Archive for the Category ‘Fred First’

Extra, Extra! Christmas Stolen – Grinch Exonerated!

Extra, Extra! Christmas Stolen –  Grinch Exonerated!

by Fred First Granted, his methods were nefarious the year he stole Christmas. But his tiny heart secretly was—and is—in the right place. He relented in the end, and returned the Roast Beast, the pandookas and tartookas. He let Cindy Lou Who have her Christmas in Whoville, after all. It just might be that his […]

Black History, Southern Soils and A Franklin County Slave

Black History, Southern Soils and A Franklin County Slave

by Fred First A few weeks back, while driving from Floyd to a Moneta destination just the other side of Smith Mountain Lake, I passed a sign that made me do a double-take. It read “Birthplace of Booker T. Washington.” A short distance later was a historical marker. I sped past it without stopping, and did […]

Honeybees Buzzing Back in 2011

Honeybees Buzzing Back in 2011

by Fred First What with the extremes of temperature and rainfall, and cursed by more than the usual cadre of pests in the vegetable garden this year, it was not a stellar season. But it will be a memorable summer for this one reason: the honey bees are back! Or at least it seemed so […]

Popular Photography: The Immortal Light of Our Age

Popular Photography: The Immortal Light of Our Age

by Fred First It is late October. The seasonal cycle governs our lives, indoors and out, as summer and autumn morph into one more winter. In the annual ritual of vertical migration, long sleeves, wool and fleece descend from upstairs; cotton and short sleeves and pants go back up. Inevitably, too, in this domestic flux […]

Time and Space, and How to See a Tree

Time and Space, and How to See a Tree

by Fred First Browsing the web one recent morning, a “space exploration” site displays two images side by side on my monitor. On the left is a region of space viewed with the visible spectrum of light that the human eye can see unaltered but for magnification—what you would see through a very powerful backyard […]

Dry and Warm: No Easy Matter for Plucked Chickens

Dry and Warm: No Easy Matter for Plucked Chickens

by Fred First Assured in advance by the region’s soggy-foggy reputation that I would face constant drizzling rain there, I bought the first modern rain-proof garment I’ve ever owned before my May trip to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. But following the thread of waterproof garments as I comparison shopped for that red Goretex parka […]

Living Within Our Means, Means Knowing Our Limits

Living Within Our Means, Means Knowing Our Limits

by Fred First I recently read these headlines, and was oddly encouraged: “Europe has already run out of fish for the year.” I’ll share with you the reason for my odd reaction to this seemingly bad news. Surely, it is not a good thing that the year is only half past and the sustainable catch of […]

Dragonfly Pest Control: A Free Global Service

Dragonfly Pest Control: A Free Global Service

by Fred First Even after being a biology watcher for decades, I learned something very interesting a few years ago when I chanced upon a group of hawk watchers one September afternoon at Saddle Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway here in Floyd County. As I approached, one of them, looking overhead through binoculars called […]

Every Drought Ends with a Good Rain

Every Drought Ends with a Good Rain

by Fred First This selection is from Slow Road Home, written in August 2002, a lament during one of the worst droughts in living memory for the old-timers who live in our part of Floyd County. Hundreds of wells went dry that year. We’ve never since seen the creek dry up completely. But it’s getting […]

In Praise of the “Wolf Peach”

In Praise of the “Wolf Peach”

by Fred First It is, in fact, a giant berry, technically a fruit. And it has been variously misunderstood, feared, loathed and praised during its several thousand years on—and off–the world’s grocery list. It’s attractiveness alone compelled the earliest European explorers to spread its showy, fleshy fruits around the world from its probable place of […]



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