A Book By Its Cover ~ Part II

What they hold in their hands--an iPod or a millipede--does matter.
What they hold in their hands--an iPod or a millipede--does matter.

In another perspective of the language of the title–What We Hold In Our Hands: a Slow Road Reader— I like it because it speaks of things tactile and close, intentional and personal. (Part One is here.)

I will never forget from physical therapy anatomy dissection how it was the hand, of all the features of the human body we studied in fine detail, that gave me shudders. THAT hand and wrist, that thumb, those fingertips had once been this deceased person’s most intimate contact with the world–so uniquely human, not only an organ of perception but one of possession and control, of affection and power, of creative energy and interaction with thousands of other hands over a lifetime.

To hold is not a verb to be taken lightly. We of all the world’s creatures are specialized to grasp and manipulate with the dexterity it takes to play the violin, cut a diamond, wield a scalpel or a gun, pluck a wildflower–abilities that we owe to the anatomical miracle of the human hand.

Our grasp can be an aggressive and selfish holding-fast or it can convey the gentlest and most generous affection and protection. Our grip has built civilizations. Too, there are things we chose to hold briefly and release when we realize they might do us or our children harm. What we hold is the antithesis of those things we have or should have let go of.

The holding spoken of in the title of this book is by and large of those good and true things within our own homes, just beyond our doors, out in our communities and in our global neighborhood that are dear and precious and often missed. In that sense, this book is a field guide, a most familiar and cherished form of teaching with which I am comfortable.


About fred

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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