Who Will Watch The Home Place

image copyright Fred First

I used this image on our Christmas Gathering invitations this year (and last, and the one before that, I think) because first of all, it is a winter scene. But then in any season, it speaks to me of refuge, of serenity, of the blessed silence and solitude of our homeplace we enjoy sharing with friends this time of year.

I pulled the image up on the screen yesterday morning and looked at it for a long while, a December meditation. Just then, from the kitchen radio, the words from Who Will Watch the Homeplace seemed aimed for the gut, and hit their mark.

Now I wander around touching each blessed thing
The chimney the tables the trees
And my memories swirl ’round me like birds on the wing
When I leave here oh who will I be

Who will watch the home place
Who will tend my hearts dear space
Who will fill my empty place
When I am gone from here


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.

9 comments:

  1. It’s simply amazing how a song, played at just the right moment in time, can capture your breath like that…

    Great post!

  2. I’ve never heard that before, and it made me tear up a little; reminding me of my mom and dad. That’s a great photo, Fred.

  3. that is an absolutely, gorgeous photo! whenever i pass by old farmhouses and see the smoke curling up from the chimney, i want to walk up to the door and ask if i can come in and curl up by the fire! we have yet to find our “home”, we are just renters- so i have to live vicariously through others for the time being.

  4. Fred, I just love that shot. The coming together of song and memories is real example of synchronicity don’t you think?
    But then that’s the way it always seems to work, isn’t it.

  5. We tell the grandkids to go pick out their house-site on the property here in the mountains, and all are excited about it, except the youngest – she wants to live here in our house (when we are gone), she will take care of it. But, Grandpa, can you fix it up before you go?

  6. Fred,
    You probably won’t get around to reading this late post … I know how hard it is to keep up with all the myriad things that one has to see to, especially when you are at home. But, just thought I would mention that I really liked this picture and it really brought back memories to me of growing up in Western Kentucky.

    Makes me want to be HOME in Canberra!

    Steve (Still in Dubai 111 days to go).

  7. Yes who indeed? I think of who too will be here after me

    Hi Fred and have a very happy Christmas from your Island friend Rob

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