Saturday was another 90° day here in SE Texas…The past week has seen upper 80’s every day. The weather prognosticators are trying to tease with hints of a “strong” cool front coming our way. I have even heard whispers of highs in the upper 70’s…Personally, I think they are smoking that silly weedy stuff.
Friday I attended the funeral of my oldest aunts. She had had her 99th birthday this past January. We were all sure she was going to make her 100th next year…It will not be happening now and I for one will miss her at our upcoming family reunion. I hope I can maintain as much independence and love of life when I start approaching my ninth decade…Bye Aunt Gertrude, you were an inspiration to us all.
I received my copy of Fred First’s new book “What We Hold In Our Hands, a slow road reader” this week. I’ve been walking along the slow road Fred writes about, one essay at a time. Contemplating the muse that led to each of the individual pieces…Enjoying the visions of nature as seen through his eyes. Listening to his take on the troubles of the world…Sharing visions seen from the front porch swing, or the window by his computer, there on that country lane along Goose Creek. The world looks different when seen from that small valley, along that particular creek, in those ancient mountains of the Blue Ridge plateau of Floyd County in southwestern Virginia.
Fred’s pictures make a wonderful addition to this collection. Some of the stories will be familiar to regular readers of Fragments From Floyd, Fred’s blog. All are worth a re-read. Right up front, even before the preface, Fred begins with this…
The fragments of daily life that we may record in words…show, for better or worse, some small truth about our unique place and purpose in this world. Taken together the trivial threads–a memory, an insight, a hope realized or lost— weave the fabric of our stories. This is what we hold in our hands; we know it well and can speak of it from the heart.
What better way to describe this group of essays. Every essay a vista of a place in time and space. Each is a short trip along a worn path led by the the well chosen words of your guide. His vision finds new vistas at every turn…Vistas that I would probably miss if left to my own muse.
Reading of his first exploration of the high elevations of that piece of Eden Fred calls home, I was almost out of breath as if I had climbed that path myself. Waiting with Fred, watching the building storm over the valley of that nameless creek, viewing “Here’s Home” for that first time from the heights, waiting for the insight…The vision, to come.
Some of the essays are the of the type of monologue you would hear if you were to sit a while on the steps of the front porch of Fred’s house. Visiting as they do in the valleys and the hollows of these old mountains. One side of the conversation you be having were you but there with Fred. Some politics, some world encompassing troubles of the day, some natural history…But all interesting.
Back when Fred’s first book was published I bought a copy even before they were printed. Here is what I had to say then about that book…
Today for lunch I joined a friend I’ve never met. We walked along a creek with no name under hemlocks in a valley I’ve never seen. We passed a barn I’ve only envisioned in painted light upon my screen. The sun I couldn’t see glistened on grasses in the field to dry the dew I did not feel. I wasn’t there, and yet I was, visiting with Fred on Goose Creek in the mountains of Floyd County.
In the time since I wrote those words I have walked with Fred along that creek, under those trees. I stopped at the barn after crossing the plank bridge. I have met the friend I made just those few years ago…Go ahead, take a walk with Fred…Tell him Gary sent you.