Fragments from Floyd Photos and Front Porch Musing from Floyd County Virginia Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:09:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What Difference Does a Season Make? Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:09:19 +0000 I’m catching up with myself, from this time a few years back when I imagined keeping up all along through an entire year with a seasonal journal–part of my “Floyd County Almanac” that sits just exactly where it did when I abandoned it.

I remember as I wrote this thinking how smug of me to look out my window at leaves almost all fallen from the trees and all insect night noises silenced while I simply went upstairs and brought down the long sleeves when winter approached.

Not a one of the millions of other living things we share the northern hemisphere with have it so easy!

From autumn of 2012, here’s a first paragraph of a longer piece uploaded to Medium, should you care to read or bookmark.

Autumn a Change in Cadence and Key

Though a few poetic souls and tree-hugging types like me will make soft cooing noises about the magic of the coming of fall, many pay no mind to these aesthetics at all. And for most of my fellow humans, from a practical, survival point of view, autumn connotes no more inconvenience than the putting-on of a warmer pair of slippers of a morning. 
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Studying About Those Good Ole Days Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:46:25 +0000 Sorry. I have just a minute this morning before rushing off to a dentist appointment in Blacksburg.

Some of you may have suffered the dissociative results in panoramas when people move as you’re panning. It can create some bizarre amputations and other bodily permutations. This is one such example.

And, given the fact that my son, my brother-in-law and I sang an  a cappella rendition of “Down To the River to Pray” for my wife’s dad’s memorial service in Biloxi, this apparent baptism scene from a cousin’s pier in the bay seemed appropriate for this morning’s posting.

This is one of those “forgiveness rather than permission” situations. I will be grabbing my car keys exactly one minute after hitting the PUBLISH button.

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Yosemite: the Cost of Keeping Up Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:00:54 +0000 I had planned to post a few images from last week’s quick Gulf Coast trip. So much for plans.

I upgraded to Yosemite. Chrome is broken. Safari is not living up to the hype of being faster and more of a real browser I’ve never found it to be, but I’m stuck with it for a while, and all thumbs.

iPhotos–also updated–does not like the old version of Java runtime and the new version is taking a half hour to download. So this image was not cheap.

I hope you appreciate the simple picture of leaves on our path that cost me 30 minutes of wait. So many more leaves are down now than when we left for Biloxi last Wednesday.

On the plus side, I have had the sense this past week away that I’d like to get back to writing something more substantial. The shorter days this time of year have traditionally been calendar prompts towards turning in, slowing down, and thinking more deeply now that lawn and garden are not our masters.

I’d started another book in October a couple of years ago. I plan to revisit that notion, so am not stagnant across my entire creative life, such as it is. And maybe the blog will rise with that tide.

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Lord of the Flies Thu, 16 Oct 2014 12:52:27 +0000 Is it just US? Are others in Floyd County being bedeviled by clouds of tiny “gnats”–which upon inspection are a type of fly?

What is the source? I’m thinking these are “wet vegetation” hatches. They  especially like to congregate above our windows in doors to the extent that you can’t see paint underneath them.

Phorid flies maybe? They are smaller than fruit flies. Wing length is greater than body length. Does anybody have a valid ID so that I can explore control measures?

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Local Color Tue, 14 Oct 2014 11:20:27 +0000 There’s plenty of color in the Southern Appalachian forests, as if hue and saturation sliders were nudged to the right by the Master Painter. In just the past week, we’ve had a remarkable intensification of the yellows, golds and reds that were so faint just ten days ago.

And while the forest floor is temporarily also colorful with freshly-fallen scarlet and saffron hickory, oak, maple and poplar, that goes quickly to somber sienna and burnt umber. Except…

We do see these occasional splashes of brilliant red berries clustered low to the ground and often hidden under fallen leaves.

Can you identify what plant these berries make seeds for? (Mouse-over to see more of this plant.) I’m betting somebody will nail this right away.

No telling what the coming leaf peeper weekend will offer travelers, after the hard rains and strong winds pass through with this present storm system that is spawning tornadoes here and there. Maybe there will be some leaves left attached to twig and branch.

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Sometimes, The Eddies Thu, 09 Oct 2014 10:55:27 +0000 It is not easy standing your ground in a raging river.

It takes constant vigilance lest you be swept off your feet and disappear below the surface of muddy and turbulent waters.

In those times, it takes all the energy you have just to hold your place. You can do this for a while.

Then, when and if you can, you seek out an eddy. The waters still flow there, but you take the chance to look around in that calmer hour to remember why it was you got wet in the first place.

From that still place yesterday, I found solace in the finest details of the most ordinary things just outside my door.

That did me a world–this one and only world–of good.

Flow can be an enemy. Flow can be a healing balm. We step from the currents to the eddies and back again, perhaps each time learning how to balance our rage against  the river with complete surrender to the solitude in the slack waters, when–and if– they come.

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Battlelines Shift, the War Goes On Wed, 08 Oct 2014 10:57:00 +0000 I learned from a local reporter that there would be big news for Floyd yesterday afternoon. My hope was to hear that the Mountain Valley pipeline had been cancelled.

Instead the news was that the pipeline would be routed north of our county. I did not immediately do a happy dance.

My first impulse was caution. Could this even be believed, considering the duplicitous games the big utilities have played with communities all across the nation?

And if true, how happy, how relieved could I allow myself to be?Another community was doomed to suffer what–presumably–had now passed over Floyd, by a matter of sheer corporate calculation.

As I write on the morning of the day after, it begins to sink in that the threat has passed–for now. I am happy to not have the burden of this dragon breathing down our necks over years of resistance and legal street-fighting before construction would have begun, followed by decades of right-of-way issues and the daily suffering sadness of a bucolic landscape marred by an industrial scar.

I am relieved that Floyd Countians do not have to live under the constant threat of conflagrations the equivalent of small nuclear blasts when massive gas pipes explode. But others will live in the shadow of that dread now.

Over the past three months, it has not been wasted effort: the meetings, the miles, the hours, the planning, the research and debate, the amazingly-focused creativity and networking within the Floyd community and between Floyd and near and distant counties.

Today, we know better who we are as a citizenry. We know what we are capable of if we educate ourselves and stand together. We know what it is that is precious to us because we have allowed ourselves to imagine the loss of those things and to rise with a unified voice in defense of our land, our people and our principles of community over corporation.

We have a renewed purpose in sustaining Floyd County’s reputation as doing things in alternative ways by in-sourcing our energy needs. Solarize Floyd! There are alternatives to “cheap, clean and abundant” natural gas that do not commit us to thirty more years of CO2.

In all of the energy and hours poured into this fight for the land we stand on and stand for, we have developed what I call “eco-empathy.”

We now feel like we have walked a mile in the shoes of those unmet neighbors in Nelson and Roanoke who continue the opposition to a pipeline and to all pipelines across the Blue Ridge mountains.

We have a clearer understanding of the relationship between corporations, politicians, national energy policy, and the workings of entities like EQT–one of the energy partners breathing down Roanoke’s neck this morning.

And here’s an interesting coincidence: the same day the route change was announced, news was plastered all over various pipeline-related Facebook pages that EQT faces six criminal charges for water violations–just the kind of potential failures to guarantee Floyd County’s future water quality that contributed in no small part to opposition to the pipeline. The same water concerns now fall on the other counties in the path of this cultural and environmental insult.

Know this: Southwest Virginia has grown heart, brain and muscle in this brief initial skirmish. Our shared vision of the future we desire is clearer now. We see wider and deeper over the energy and environmental landscape than we did just months ago.

We have been forced by this threat to comprehend the broad and lasting damage that extractive, carbon-based energy tyranny brings to places and to people with names–communities like yours and mine that bear the risk but don’t share in the profit.

Funny how things work out. After months of effort and planning, the evening before the route change, Preserve Floyd had its first meeting as a 501c3 non-profit organization, conceived and established as an environmental advocacy and education entity. Threats to our water and way of life can take many future forms. We will be ready.

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The Parts We Don’t See Sun, 05 Oct 2014 10:53:37 +0000 As it turns out, this very Amanita mushroom (about two weeks more mature this morning than it appears in this peak-of-life image) will be the subject of the children’s sermonette this morning because Ann last week said she’d do it. And this is how that works out, predictably delegated away. Nuff said.

I’ll talk briefly about simile and metaphor. These are some of the ways the Bible tells stories to help us understand. I’ll give a few examples.

Jesus said “I am the bread, the vine, the good shepherd.” Parables often used simile:  The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.

I’ll pull this specimen you see here out of the cooler and, as an aside, tell them that this is a relative of the largest oldest living thing on earth: the honeycap (Armillaria) discovered growing in Oregon that covers four square miles and may be more than 8000 years old.

Strange but True: The Largest Organism on Earth Is a Fungus – Scientific American

Then, getting around to the churchy part,  I’ll tell them I find stories–life lessons–often in the natural world.

Most of this giant mushroom lives as fungal threads (mycelia) that are invisible under the surface of what we know and see. We only find the occasional mushroom part of the organism peeking up above the surface.

We see things happen in life that we give God credit for.  Those are the “mushrooms” we think of as blessings; as praise-worthy things. The rest of his work is underground–vast, invisible, ongoing.

So watch for the mushrooms, but think about what is happening all the time, day and night, under the surface from the very beginning of time.

And the next time she picks up the children’s sermon book, it belongs to her. No waffling. No sympathy. No turning the other cheek. Tough love, dear. Go and delegate no more.

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Another Million or Two Sat, 04 Oct 2014 13:13:20 +0000 That’s how many additional shale gas drilling wells are predicted to be included in the “all of the above” energy menu of our President and the Virginia Governor.

Add up what that means to your children’s future. Do the accounting of debits and credits with regard to another 30 years or carbon fuels from “unconventional” sources, now that we’ve blown our way through all the easy carbon.

Calculate the number of hundreds of millions of gallons of potable water that will be sucked out of our groundwater, lakes and rivers–water and turned to fracking fluid–water that can never be used again for human consumption or for watering crops or livestock.

► Shale Drilling Destroys Regional Water Resources

Tally the thousands of miles of additional land despoiled by pipelines like the Atlantic Coast and its evil twin, the Mountain Valley  proposed to cross Floyd County.

And on that land, add up the total of devalued property (homes, schools, businesses, wetlands, hiking trails, scenic highways); the acres of altered, deforested, herbicide-sprayed personal places forever;  the  immeasurable loss to visitors and natives alike of the beauty, tranquility and wholeness of precious places defiled.


Calculate the metric tons of additional carbon (CO2 and MUCH more methane than previously admitted from wellhead leaks) and the degrees of atmospheric temperature increase, the number of inches of sea level rise, the number of species of birds, salamanders and as-yet-unnamed creatures that will disappear into extinction because they cannot adapt as quickly as our planet is being changed by human choice at the highest levels–not at the grassroots.

Our future is being stolen by our politicians and their corporate handlers—clearly against the will of the people who have the clarity of vision to see that the “cheap, clean and abundant” alternative of shale gas is a lie, pure and simple.

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Friday Nature Unknown Fri, 03 Oct 2014 11:47:12 +0000 So what do we have here? Anyone? Have you seen this being before in your busy life?

Yes, yes, another curiosity placed for your observational pleasure in the Goose Creek Roadside Museum and Medicine Show by the Foolish Farmer of Erewhon

–a character who first appeared in July 2002, and who,  even more than a decade ago had come to think of himself  as invisible, so nearly alone and operating in a vacuum of fellow-feeling. Somehow, somewhy, he has persevered, nevertheless, more or less, all these years.

And here one more time , with no explanation why he feels compelled to do so, in faithful futility this Friday morning when so very few travelers bother to wander down to rush past the museum, he lays out yet another near-by creature.

He hopes beyond hope this found wonder might make you open your eyes, expand your reach,  expand your imagination to the possible; and more than that, to grasp the hereness of this amazingly real and tangible, knowable, loveable world at hand. Now. Here. Do you see?


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