Fragments from Floyd Photos and Front Porch Musing from Floyd County Virginia Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:30:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Just Desserts Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:30:55 +0000 Kingdom: Fungi

That’s the best I can do to name this tasty looking pudding-cake living thing I walked past in town a few weeks back. I had a mind to ask for a big glass of milk to go with the cinnamon-chocolatey delicacy.

No I didn’t bite into it. But don’t you think it’s tempting, served here on a bed of mulch, with a pine-tree garnish?

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Down to Earth: Toasted Marshmallow Mushrooms Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:55:12 +0000 Let’s just say I need to pay way more attention for a day or three to what goes on under my feet than to what goes on in this Chinese Fire Drill of a world of ours.

All world and no play makes Fred a dull boy.

So today, other than slashing up some final-crop tomatoes into freezer bags, I’m off duty. I leave you with this image I remember taking but not exactly where I took it.

I do recall it was some stuffy place where a grown man down on his knees in the foundation mulch probably entered the conversation around the water cooler. Whatever was he doing down there!

I am so lazy as to have made no attempt to identify this fungus, and have dubbed it the Toasted Marshmallow Mushroom. If you can give a Latin name, please do.

[Click here for larger image at Flickr] ]]> 1
Watershed Moment Mon, 15 Sep 2014 11:32:24 +0000 Last night’s gathering at the Floyd EcoVillage Celebration Hall was a confluence in time and space of so many people who care about and are willing to act on behalf of this special landscape.

The notion that Floyd’s water is the fluid foundation for both agriculture and human culture in this county has been bubbling to the surface now for a decade. Last night was the high-water mark, to be sure–the culmination of more than a year of work and planning. Congrats to all who played a part.

Here is the final product:

But no matter where you’re from, your community has it own water interests and concerns, and your water future–like ours–may be at risk. Perhaps this Floyd-based water feature will give your group some ideas about where to start plumbing those depths while there is still time to act.


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Growing the Future: Support LOCAL Thu, 11 Sep 2014 09:21:58 +0000 Good News! Every dollar you give in support of SustainFloyd’s community-based projects brings THREE dollars  to support local farmers, school lunches, educational programs and more!

This matching offer gives each of us leverage towards better diets and nutrition, better understanding of our relationship to the land, and a stronger, healthier community.

As a non-profit organization, SustainFloyd depends on donations to keep our community services going strong. Your contribution will help us support the Floyd Farmers Market, fund extra SNAP benefits for low income Market shoppers, offer farm workshops, fund the SustainFloyd Film Series, and partner in the Farm to School program.

SustainFloyd has recently been given an incredible opportunity – a donor who grew up in Floyd has stepped forward and offered to match $3 for every $1 raised up to $50,000! It is a resounding show of support for our mission and one we cannot ignore.

We need to raise $17,000 to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity and meet our 2014 commitments to these Floyd programs. Please consider supporting these SustainFloyd services.



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Without Water, We Are So Much Dust Wed, 10 Sep 2014 12:11:00 +0000 What! You’ve never been to Floyd EcoVillage on Franklin Pike?

What? You thought we had aquifers like other places, or that we had plenty of pristine water forever in Floyd County?

If you answered NO to question number one and YES to two and three, then we’ll hope to see you Sunday.

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What Color Is This Mushroom? Tue, 09 Sep 2014 08:37:40 +0000 In Alabama, we’d say it was ray-ud.

All I know is that on an overcast chilly day last week, it was dazzling in its contrast to an otherwise lifeless monochrome forest floor already starting to get its carpet of fallen leaves.

This lovely fall fungus is known by some as scarlet hood or scarlet wax cap.

We call it that ray-ud one that comes up on the middle path in the late summer when the leaves begin to fall.

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Flowing, Together Mon, 08 Sep 2014 12:21:01 +0000 I’ve always liked the word “confluence” for the fact that, if I could see  and hear through the wall in front of me, I’d experience the joining music and rush of Goose Creek where it merges with Nameless Creek.

Both of “our” creeks are jump-across-able streams alone; together they gain breadth and depth, power and voice.

So I woke up this morning with a gentle rain on the metal roof overhead and have been spinning over and over this notion of flowing together.  It is uncertainties and ideas, fears and hopes of my neighbors that are coming together now in an exciting, bewildering, hopeful confluence.

So I’ll get these water/pipeline/convergence bits out of my head all at once, and you’ll see way too many versions of Goose Creek Mill Dam–a place that represents for me the coming together of human history and need that find its story along waterways, as is so very often the case.

Here’s a “this I believe” short statement about Floyd County water.

And here, at Medium, an essay that was published in the Floyd Press on Thursday and Roanoke Times yesterday, in the event that you might want to read it again, or for the first time. [It's a BIG image, so scroll down to see the text.]

I’m done. Tomorrow, maybe mushrooms!

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Our Water Future: The Floyd Story Fri, 05 Sep 2014 11:06:15 +0000 Come join our community at the premier showing of a newly released, independent documentary about Floyd County’s precious water resources.  The film titled “To the Last Drop” was created and filmed right here in Floyd, and features some of our local landowners and water experts.

Fred First, Mark Sowers, Jeff Walker, Mark Grim, Lydeanna Martin, Dennis Dove and Jane Cundiff are featured in the movie;  Bernie Coveney provided the background instrumental music.

Professional videographers from Virginia Tech, Chris Risch and Grazia Apolinares produced this poignant 43-minute movie that is not only educational but visually and emotionally inspirational.

This premier showing will be presented for FREE at the Floyd EcoVillage on September 14 at 4:00.  The event is being arranged and supported by Partnership for Floyd with hopes of getting good community involvement in preserving our streams, wetlands, and wells that are the source of life here in Floyd County.

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Natural Gas: The Bridge is OUT Thu, 04 Sep 2014 12:01:41 +0000 Naomi Oreskes is known to me from the brilliant Merchants of Doubt on the truth-management practices “from tobacco to global warming.” As she considers our energy future,  if we continue down the path we’re on,  she says we follow a “Green Bridge to Hell.” I think she’s spot on with that conviction.

I’ve had this dope-slap realization that the same folks behind horizontal fracturing’s economics, “science” and the proliferation of fracked wells being forced on landscapes and communities across the east are the same folks who paid for their own scientists who told us cigarettes were really good for us.

The current natural gas truth-spinners are the same people who took the tops off mountains and put them into West Virginia creeks that had names in places where people with names once lived normal lives.

The proposed Mountain-Valley pipeline that Floyd County would suffer is part of this legacy of power, profit and indifference to people or places. We’re focused, rightly, on the local pipeline’s threat, a symptom of that legacy that might change the lives of many of us, not for the better.

But we need to be mindful of the high-dollar spin in this “green bridge” so that we or our neighbors don’t buy any snake oil.

Find below rather a lot of Diigo annotations from Green Bridge to Hell pulled from the longer TomGram article (emphasis mine.)

If you don’t care to read more, just consider this: that natural gas is not the bridge to clean energy as advertized; it’s the road to more climate change. It’s a green road to hell.

When looked at in a clear-eyed way, natural gas isn’t going to turn out to be the fossil-fuel equivalent of a wonder drug that will cure the latest climate disease. Quite the opposite: its exploitation will actually increase the global use of fossil fuels and pump more greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, while possibly suppressing the development of actual renewable alternatives.
Different studies of this sort tend to yield quite different results with a high margin for error, but many conclude that when natural gas replaces petroleum in transportation or heating oil in homes, the greenhouse gas benefits are slim to none.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, there were 342,000 gas wells in the United States in 2000; by 2010, there were over 510,000, and nearly all of this increase was driven by shale-gas development — that is, by fracking. This represents a huge increase in the potential pathways for methane leakage directly into the atmosphere. (It also represents a huge increase in potential sources of groundwater contamination, but that’s a subject for another post.)

There have been enormous disagreements among scientists and industry representatives over methane leakage rates, but experts calculate that leakage must be kept below 3% for gas to represent an improvement over coal in electricity generation, and below 1% for gas to improve over diesel and gasoline in transportation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently estimates average leakage rates at 1.4%, but quite a few experts dispute that figure. One study published in 2013, based on atmospheric measurements over gas fields in Utah, found leakage rates as high as 6%-11%.

But recently the Wall Street Journal reported that state officials in North Dakota would be pressing for new regulations because flaring rates there are running around 30%. In the month of April alone, $50 million dollars of natural gas was burned off, completely wasted. The article was discussing shale oil wells, not shale gas ones, but it suggests that, when it comes to controlling flaring, there’s evidence the store is not being adequately minded. (At present, there are no federal regulations at all on flaring.) As long as gas is cheap, the economic incentives to avoid waste are obviously insufficient.

Meanwhile, global fossil fuel production and consumption are rising. A recent article by the business editor of the British Telegraph describes a frenzy of fossil fuel production that may be leading to a new financial bubble. The huge increase in natural gas production is, in reality, helping to keep the price of such energy lower, discouraging efficiency and making it more difficult for renewables to compete.

We’ve all heard about the Keystone XL Pipeline through which Canada proposes to ship oil from the Alberta tar sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast, and from there to the rest of the world. Few people, however, are aware that the U.S. has also become a net exporter of coal and is poised to become a gas exporter as well. Gas imports have fallen steadily since 2007, while exports have risen, and several U.S. gas companies are actively seeking federal and state approvals for the building of expanded gas export facilities.

[...and yet the interstate pipelines line the one that would be inflicted on Floyd County could be taken by eminent domain, justified as being for the "greater good." Shipping fracked Pennsylvania or WV gas to Europe is NOT for the greater good of US taxpayers. -- FF]

All of the available scientific evidence suggests that greenhouse gas emissions must peak relatively soon and then fall dramatically over the next 50 years, if not sooner, if we are to avoid the most damaging and disruptive aspects of climate change. Yet we are building, or contemplating building, pipelines and export facilities that will contribute to increased fossil fuel use around the globe, ensuring further increases in emissions during the crucial period when they need to be dramatically decreasing.

Certain forms of infrastructure also effectively preclude others. Once you have built a city, you can’t use the same land for agriculture. Historians call this the “infrastructure trap.” The aggressive development of natural gas, not to mention tar sands, and oil in the melting Arctic, threaten to trap us into a commitment to fossil fuels that may be impossible to escape before it is too late. Animals are lured into traps by the promise of food. Is the idea of short-term cuts in greenhouse gas emissions luring us into the trap of long-term failure?

The fossil fuel industry and their allies have spent the past 20 years attacking environmentalists and climate scientists as extremists, alarmists, and hysterics. Their publicists have portrayed them as hair-shirt wearing, socialist watermelons (green on the outside, red on the inside) who relish suffering, kill jobs, and want everyone to freeze in the dark. Extremists do exist in the environmental movement as everywhere else, but they represent a tiny faction of the community of people concerned about climate change, and they are virtually nonexistent in the scientific community. (Put it this way: if there is a hair-shirt wearing climate scientist, I have not met her.)

Sometimes you can fight fire with fire, but the evidence suggests that this isn’t one of those times. Under current conditions, the increased availability and decreased price of natural gas are likely to lead to an increase in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Preliminary data from 2013 suggest that that is already occurring. And global emissions are, of course, continuing to increase as well.


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And I Live to Tell Wed, 03 Sep 2014 10:10:58 +0000 Against the same smudged window out of which the Gollum gazed, a pedestaled two-dimensional mummified cat cast a terrible silhouette against the gray sky beyond.

Was this a totem to ward off cat-kind, or a monument to celebrate them–in a most peculiar and macabre fashion? The prominent display of this flattened fauna appeared almost like a work of art.

But wait! As I turned with no small apprehension to take my leave of this inexplicable place, it flashed before me that this whole compound may have no other portent or purpose than to say “Look at this and marvel!” Could it be a kind of gallery? But by whom?

I made my way, best I could, back down the mountain approximately along the path that had brought me to this place. And I had not gone a fraction of a mile before I came upon a message–a crudely penned parchment tied to a tree with a length of honeysuckle vine, still fresh and green. It read:

“To him what has come here: take care that you find your way home, and in so doing,  find your way back. You’ll not see nowhere else the likes of these wonders I set out for ye.”

And in bold letters, the wizard signed his name and title:

Sir Ernest, the Supreme Bryant of all of Lick Ridge.  And he added a PS: “come again and bring any what would fancy my curiosities such as ye have.”

And so I will.

Yes, I’ve been telling you  a whopper of a tale, but it was the way I took in neighbor-artist Ernest Bryant’s wonderful assortment of craft, whimsy and tangible daydreams. There was a story there!

Read the four parts in order:


Strangeness on the Moors

I don’t know what I intended from my walk up the steep ridge behind the house. It was so foggy when I set out that I almost turned around right away for fear of quickly becoming lost. But something drew me higher, farther and farther from any familiar landmark in these woods I thought I […]


Not Long About It

I was not at ease exploring whatever it was that I had stumbled upon, and yet I could not just slip back into the woods without allowing my curiosity a closer look. Here is one close-up lignified creature that I almost expected to begin moving towards me–a wooden slug with waggling antennae–just one in this […]


The Wizard’s Shop

So as I told you,  I had come through the fog, up the mountain, into the clearing populated by a grove of gargoyles, posing as if so many dozen trees had bared their bottoms in a manner both threatening and somehow playful and liberating. As I might have confessed, I was tempted to run straightway back […]


And I Live to Tell

Against the same smudged window out of which the Gollum gazed, a pedestaled two-dimensional mummified cat cast a terrible silhouette against the gray sky beyond.Was this a totem to ward off cat-kind, or a monument to celebrate them–in a most peculiar and macabre fashion? The prominent display of this flattened fauna appeared almost like a […]





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