Fragments from Floyd http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com Photos and Front Porch Musing from Floyd County Virginia Wed, 23 Apr 2014 21:14:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9 The Bear Came Over the Mountainhttp://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/environment/nature/the-bear-came-over-the-mountain/ http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/environment/nature/the-bear-came-over-the-mountain/#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 21:14:35 +0000 http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/?p=11298 Again.  Same place, same time of year as last. And Gandy the dog discovered it first. Actually, it was a THEM.

She always runs ahead of us down the road the follows the edge of the steep woods along the pasture that tumbles along beside Nameless Creek.

Usually, when she bursts away from us, bounding on her back legs like a pronking antelope, it’s a squirrel she’s spotted just at the bend of the road.

So we didn’t think much about it when she bolted around the curve today just ahead of us.

Fortunately, she came into view quickly,  just as she was chasing a bear cub up a tree, the mother closing fast down on the dog.

Reflexively, I whistled and hooted and hollered GANDY COME! and she broke off the chase and zipped past us 40 miles an hour, with four human appendages flailing the wind at a much lower rate of speed but in the same direction.

The bear wanted no more to do with us than we did with her or her baby (the smallest cub I’ve ever seen, probably just a few weeks old.)

In this same place last year, the mother bear chased the dog that raced past the wife who reached max heart rate, looking over her shoulder at the stereotypical lurching run of a large black bear eating up the intervening distance.

Luckily, once sure her cub was no longer threatened, momma bear gave up the chase. A few weeks later, Ann returned to resting heart rate.

Such is life in the woods.

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Vicarious Vitality: Watching Them Runhttp://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/artsandscience/photoimage/vicarious-vitality-watching-them-run/ http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/artsandscience/photoimage/vicarious-vitality-watching-them-run/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 10:16:03 +0000 http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/?p=11286 Yes, we have two grand daughters, and it is only because the older one had a NIGHT game that she has not been featured in this back to back g-dau series.

The take-home from watching the energy expended on the field was that “there was a time” and it does not seem so long ago, when energy and strength were boundless and pain a stranger. To everything there is a season I suppose–a time to run and a time to refrain from running.

I remember when our son first “played soccer” (or at least there was  a ball by that name on the field.) The sport amounted to watching a tight little wad of appendages attached to every 6 yr old on both teams, all within five feet of whereever the ball was–a shin-kicking dust cloud of a sport.

six year old pursues the soccer ball downfield at full speed

Eye on the ball, full speed ahead!

Occasionally the ball entered the goal by accident and parents for the offense all claimed their child was responsible. Who could tell through the dust storm?

So I was pleasantly surprised to see in the game we watched on the tiny tot sized rectangle some actual attempts to pass the ball and hold some semblance of assigned position on the field. Not entirely, mind you; and there were a few on both sides who could be tagged as saying in future years that they were “not that athletic” growing up.

The shot up top was not my favorite, but with the format of “featured images” in this WordPress template, you’re pretty well stuck with landscape-oriented pictures to frame a composition to accompany the post.

So I’ve just tucked the other one in as a thumbnail of a better framed action shot and you can click or hover over it and see the larger image.

Honestly, it has been too long since I’ve had the Nikon D200 out of the bag, and it felt so good to have a responsive shutter and a manually controlled exposure/shutter speed option and manually-zoomable lens. You DO give up a good bit with the iPhone.

But the best camera to use is the one you have with you. My “phone” is ever with me, so has become the “best camera.” But I have apologized to my Nikon about my neglect and will make it up to her in the next few months. Promise.

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Joy for Freehttp://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/artsandscience/photoimage/joy-for-free/ http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/artsandscience/photoimage/joy-for-free/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 11:54:21 +0000 http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/?p=11281 Watching our grand daughter frolic in the sprinkler, I remembered the utter joy the first day we were allowed to go barefoot–in the zoysia grass, under the mimosas, only to get “stung on a bee” as one of us lamented when it happened.

The moving-parts oscillating gizmos came along well after the first one I remember–a ring of brass with holes in it that just sat there and put out a tiaraof luke-warm Alabama water a few feet into the sultry air.

Joy is found in free and simple things when you’re six. We should all be six as often as possible.

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Learning Not to Failhttp://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/shoptalk/fred/ http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/shoptalk/fred/#comments Sun, 20 Apr 2014 10:53:16 +0000 http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/?p=11274 Lately with the early frustrations of this little Etsy enterprise, I’ve been trying very hard to listen to my own advice. I’m pointing to ME when I say what I use to say to my kids growing up.

“I’m a klutz! I’ll never be able to play tennis because I can’t serve worth snatch!” my adolescent son would say.  And I would tell him…

“Remember the first time you tried to ride a bike without training wheels? You were all over that yard. You couldn’t go five feet without falling. We used up a box of bandaids. ”

“But now, you don’t even think about HOW to ride a bicycle. You just do it. Everything you now do with skill and precision you once didn’t do worth snatch.”

And here I lurge and plod today–a klutz.  Getting these 25 note cards in five sets with envelopes into clear bags with thumbstrips and set labels–I’m never going to get it done. I’m so slow. I’m so disorganized. I’m doing bits of it wrong and have to go back and fix things that should have been right the first time.

But I can see myself a little bit on the skilled side of this awkward, inefficient, slow and fumbly stage. It is getting less frustrating already.

Tomorrow I set out for three more stops for placement, and maybe I’ll seem like I know what I’m doing. At first, you have to pretend. Then finally, you know what you’re doing.

 

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Images Video from What We Holdhttp://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/homeandhearth/writing/whatwehold/image-show-from-what-we-hold/ http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/homeandhearth/writing/whatwehold/image-show-from-what-we-hold/#comments Sat, 19 Apr 2014 10:01:07 +0000 http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/?p=11264 Not all these images made the final cut, but fifty did–as black and white illustrations that support the narrative from or about the picture. I think (and readers have told me) that having the pictures is a good thing. You get to see them all in one sitting–with music; turn on your speakers.

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Author’s Note What We Hold In Our Hands: a Slow Road Readerhttp://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/homeandhearth/writing/whatwehold/authors-note-what-we-hold-in-our-hands-a-slow-road-reader/ http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/homeandhearth/writing/whatwehold/authors-note-what-we-hold-in-our-hands-a-slow-road-reader/#comments Sat, 19 Apr 2014 09:47:20 +0000 http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/?p=11257 You will find a few moments of pleasant reading in this book, I trust. More than this, it is my hope that as you look out at my world through my eyes, you will come to know the “Ah, Aha, and Haha” realities in your own life.

Looking through this lens at the terrain of your daily life may offer clarity and depth to your seeing, to your understanding and to your caring for the places and people in your own local habitat.

It’s a risky business exposing one’s thoughts and fears, memories and hopes to strangers. But I’m convinced that from this kind of unselfconscious hyper-local personal story-telling, you’ll discover that you and I are not all that different.

In the end, there’s no them and us; there’s only us. We can and must grow together in our families and communities, building our future upon each other’s humor and courage, wisdom and strength of character—now more than ever.

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Author’s Note Slow Road Homehttp://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/homeandhearth/writing/slowroadhome/authors-note-slow-road-home/ http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/homeandhearth/writing/slowroadhome/authors-note-slow-road-home/#comments Sat, 19 Apr 2014 08:47:10 +0000 http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/?p=11249 You will find a few moments of pleasant reading in this book, I trust. More than this, it is my hope that as you look out at my world through my eyes, you will come to know the “Ah, Aha, and Haha” realities in your own life. Looking through this lens at the terrain of your daily life may offer clarity and depth to your seeing, to your understanding and to your caring for the places and people in your own local habitat.
 
It’s a risky business exposing one’s thoughts and fears, memories and hopes to strangers. But I’m convinced that from this kind of unselfconscious hyper-local personal story-telling, you’ll discover that you and I are not all that different.
 
In the end, there’s no them and us; there’s only us. We can and must grow together in our families and communities, building our future upon each other’s humor and courage, wisdom and strength of character—now more than ever. 

NOTE: The image for this post became the cover for Slow Road Home and is one of the “Country Roads” photo note cards you can purchase at my Etsy Store, Goose Creek Goods

 

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Earth Day: We Couldn’t Stay Here Without Youhttp://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/environment/education/earth-day-we-couldnt-stay-here-without-you/ http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/environment/education/earth-day-we-couldnt-stay-here-without-you/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:56:03 +0000 http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/?p=11218 April 22, 1970.

None of the students I spoke to recently could tell me the year of the first Earth Day. After all, some of their parents weren’t even born yet. Those young people had no historical context of the event, had no sense of what lead up to that important day.

And yet, it was largely the energy and passion and concern of people their age 44 years ago that propelled Earth Day into a global event now celebrated every year in more than 100 countries.

The roots of passion and zeal that lead to that first April 22 event were many. Rivers were catching on fire from the volume of volatile chemicals dumped into them; downtown buildings were invisible in the ozone and nitrous haze that made American cities look like today’s China; and birds were dying in large numbers because–as Rachel Carson sounded the alarm–we were very wrong about the long-term effects of man-made chemicals in the air, soil and water.

And that was not okay. We became convinced that our presence here was making the planet sick. It was time to change our ways, and we did so with a level of commitment and focus that really made a difference.

Forty-four years from now, those students I shared my story with will be my age. What will their Earth be like? Will their generation take the reins or let business as usual take its course? Did they even know the deeper issues behind the obvious failures like Love Canal, Deep Water Horizon or ocean dead zones?

The level of awareness was mixed in that class of freshmen to seniors and hard to judge from the front of the classroom. Mostly, I’d say they are “younger” than their age peers from 1970. They may have the facts but they aren’t looking ahead and the costs their choices today will make in the lives and environments of their kids and grandkids.

Flower power. Tree huggers. Back to the land.

Those clichéd phrases of those days seem silly or trite or eccentric because they’ve been played that way by the media for the most part. They were the stoner generation, a bunch of idealistic hippies who fried their brains on drugs and needed to just get a job.

IMG_0626BESusans480I will have to confess in 1970–the year I started grad school as a zoology major– I didn’t get it. I had not been not an activist. I was generally oblivious to environmental issues until that year. But today I look back and have great respect for the values at the root of these trivialized phrases that describe the vision of the Earth Day generation.

Those “movements” expressed a kind of generational repentance to repair broken relationships to nature, the planet and each other. We had not honored the Earth as the material source of life and our well-being but treated it in ways that were making it sick. We had lost the sense of wonder and reverence for the life we share with all things. The youth of that time had become part of the machinery that was eating us up, and they rejected the future where that would lead them.

Many in that generation did more than wear flowers in their hair. They came back to the land and turned away from the systemic evils of the consumer economy that treated trees and people as commodities.

It was a genuine, future-changing phenomenon, and Floyd County is different today because of the tide of change represented by that first Earth Day.

The influx of young people in the 70s into Floyd consisted of people–potters, farmers, painters, herbalists and poets– who wanted to use their hands in a place not sold out to or uglified by fast-lane busyness–a place where the greatest goods were not profit and efficiency; a place where they could practice their farming, their arts or crafts and have the worth of their lives measured by their relationship with the soil, the mountains, the people around them.

A telling fact: until just a few years ago, of the 105 counties in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Floyd County was 102–three from the bottom–in per capital income.

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And while it has not been measured, I would be willing to bet that, if you could measure the general sense of well-being, our county would have the highest “well-being index” of any in Virginia–a state of mind and relationship with place brought about to no small degree by those Earth Day pioneers.

And so there are lessons learned from Earth Day in the decade after that event that have beenforgotten, obscured by the engines of empire, commerce and wealth-generation. They can and they must be re-learned.

It is today’s young people who must hug trees, wear metaphorical flowers in their hair, honor the Earth and come “back to the land” in their attitudes, their lifestyles and their politics.

Failing that, there may not be a high level of perceived well-being in their grandchildren’s generation.

 

 

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Frozen Peas: Thousands Die Younghttp://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/environment/nature/frozen-peas-thousands-die-young/ http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/environment/nature/frozen-peas-thousands-die-young/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 09:09:20 +0000 http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/?p=11210 I have been feeling the pain these past few well-below-freezing April mornings knowing what our local vegetable farmers are suffering at the hand of winter that won’t give it up.

Thousands of tender sets and sprouts in long rows, the results of hours of back-bending work and tedium, lay limp and lifeless in the cold soil this morning–AGAIN.

Native plants have evolved in place and are more-or-less adapted to late frosts and freezes. Our food crops, OTOH, are bred for color or firmness of fruit or shipping tolerance or shelf life and their genes are more likely tropical by history. They don’t do winter.

IMG_1236troutLily300So this just to say that the native trout lilies are abundant and holding up well this very cool spring, and will be just fine as a species, even if a few get zapped. Their emergence and bloom range is wide. Riverstone’s peas all emerge at once, at get zapped by a freak freeze all on the same dark still morning.

Our farming practices are in many ways “un-natural” forcing upon the soil and seed a human mandate not programmed into the ordered being of the wild thing; we are resentful of events that are inconvenient truths and facts of life on and in the ground. Fortunes are lost in the gamble, yet we must eat and farmers must take those risks–for us, and for their livelihood. It is not an easy life.

The other reason to add this post this morning (even though I told myself I’d have too much to do otherwise and would go post-less) is that WordPress 3.9 is fresh out this morning, and I just had to try the drag and drop feature that will so streamline the workflow. So I give you a bonus image of our early blooming lily–from years past.

We have yet to see the first bloom. The margins of the Blue Ridge Parkway are thick with Trout Lily (or Yellow Dog Tooth Violet or Adder’s Tongue) in places where the Skunk Cabbage is well up and going strong. Images of that soon to come.

BTW, just learned Trout Lily LEAVES are edible, will have to explore that menu item! The edible bulbs are way too hard to dig up, and harm the population; a few leaves, not so much.

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Intramural Murine Mortalityhttp://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/homeandhearth/intramural-murine-mortality/ http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/homeandhearth/intramural-murine-mortality/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 10:49:06 +0000 http://www.fragmentsfromfloyd.com/?p=11204 Pardon my alliterative exuberance. This phrase is simply a fancy way of describing what we’ve just seen here at our house. Or I should most certainly say SMELLED.

We live in a place with miles and miles of forests around us. The wildlife was here first and our shelter is their shelter. I can’t blame them for wanting to get in out of the rain and cold. I’m just happy that only certain of our faunal co-inhabitants are small enough to live–and die–in our walls.

Small comfort to learn that not a few of our friends and neighbors have had much larger animals to get where they don’t belong–and from whence they cannot extricate themselves–only to die and rot in place.

So we are accustomed to the drill where the day after listening to the track meet in the space between our bedroom ceiling and the floor of the room above–the incessant scurrying wind-sprints in the dark of tiny cleated feet just overhead–we feed the little dears a meal in the walled-off storage space that is their food court.

In theory–and this has always been the case until now–they eat the “bar bait” (we hear the telltale chiseling away in the wee hours) and in addition to that last supper playing havoc with their coagulation chemistry, it makes them thirsty. They have the good manners to leave the house to find water, and expire al fresco.

The uncooperative guest three weeks ago saved itself the travel outdoors and gave up the mousy ghost in the wall behind the head of the bed. Stuff happens.

“Do something!” she repeatedly demanded, breathing through her mouth.

“What would you have me do, dear? Take a chain saw and just start anywhere?”

We slept upstairs for a week and a half, keeping the door to our bedroom closed and the windows open to the frigid air of a petulant and balky spring.

What probably cut this expulsion from paradise a bit shorter than it would have been was that the dermestid beetles and other carrion-feeders found the putrifying protoplasm and reduced it to a tiny fleshless skeleton.

Still, this gives me sympathy for all those who have told me dead-possum or groundhot or black snake horror stories.

We have our sad tales from within these walls, but they could always be worse.

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