All posts by 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.

Parts South

Two weeks ago this morning I was in high clover--among vegetation and birdlife unlike anything around here, that's for sure. Sarasota is another world, and on a beautiful balmy morning surrounded by herons and ibises and spoonbills and ducks and... It was really the first time I've been able to use the long-lens function of the camera I got only last August. So here's a gallery of images in a slide show. Or click them individually at the gallery link here. 

What’s a Forest For?

Part Two of a four-part series on Forests' Future, published in Floyd Press starting March 30.

What goes missing when a clearcut takes everything away from our ridges, slopes or valleys?

Extensive and prolonged logging so close to home was not just a personal concern. It was a community matter, too. Taking away the forest cover over many acres of steep mountain land impacts drinking water—if not mine, then a neighbor’s. Our valley floor's residential wells may draw some or much of their volume from the fractured rock under the adjacent deforested and herbicide-sprayed acreage.

Understandably, it disturbed me … Continue Reading ››

When Our Forests Disappear

This is the first part of a four part series in the Floyd Press, first installment in this week's edition. -- FBF When the oak leaves fell from November trees along the crest above the house, we were shocked to discover that the rounded ridge beyond and above us was now as smooth as a baby's bottom against the northern sky. The south-facing flank of Lick Ridge had been clearcut. The sight alarmed and upset me--and not just because the aftermath of a clearcut is unspeakably ugly. The intended future for that cleared ridge long after we're gone from here is not that … Continue Reading ››

Health Reads 30 Mar 2017

I find it much easier to browse lately than to get in touch with the poor battered Muse from yesteryear. Alas, she is requesting a DNR order and who can blame her in such times? And so I have broad-brush Google News alerts for topics impossibly broad like HEALTH. Perusing keeps me off the streets and gives me the illusion I'm "doing something." Just my previous ordinary writing is NOT doing something, the wife claims. So It's pretty interesting the variety of things that turn up in said search that I would not … Continue Reading ››