Fragments from Floyd

Images in words and pixels from a quiet place
in Floyd County

November 2, 2006

Honey Mushrooms I Have Known

image copyright Fred First

Just shows to go ya: we found this nice patch of honeycaps and let them be. If these are growing here, there must be lots more up on the slopes above the meadow or down the valley along the creek in the same kind if habitat, we reasoned. Wrong. These were the only ones we found. A forester would think that a good thing, as Armillaria mellea's above-ground parts are evidence of fungal disease in trees that produce lumber.

This is classified as an edible, and it was the first wild mushroom I ever ate. I "stalked" this mushroom for the first time at Mountain Lake Biological Station back in the Pleistocene era. I was there for five weeks taking a summer ornithology class. One afternoon hanging out with this interesting fellow David whom I'd met (guy with a beard down to his belt) he got the wild notion to go find Ritchey Bell (who was teaching a class in pollination biology) and hunt mushrooms. Ritchey was curator of the Botanical Gardens at Chapel Hill, and a bona fide character far in excess of what one would have imagined for a world-renowned academic type.

The thing about honeycaps (or honey mushrooms) is that you find them in clusters and if they are at the right stage, you can lift 20 of them all attached at a common base, and put them in your sack. The heads, too, stay tightly closed at first, keeping out the thrips and springtails and isopods that love to get inbetween the gills of mushrooms you might want to eat. We went back to Ritchey's cabin and cooked up a mess to eat with saltines. As I recall, we washed it all down with some strong concoction Dr. Bell brewed up. Good memories.

And back home later that summer, I started seeing honeycaps everywhere I looked. They had probably been there all along, but once you have a pattern-recognition experience, it's amazing how your "vision" improves. Soon, as word spread that I was out foraging for edible mushrooms, students started asking about them. (Keep in mind as you envision my entourage that this was back in the late 70s and near the Edgar Cayce commune in Cedar Springs, from which not a few of my students came.)

Once that fall I was up on our shallow-pitched metal roof (in Wytheville) giving it a new coat of roofing tar when all of a sudden up the ladder climbed a half-dozen of my earth-child students wanting to go shroom-foraging. I remember wishing I had a picture of that unlikely scene. It has been stored since on the Kodachrome of memory.

Posted by fred1st at 6:10 AM | TrackBack (0)

November 1, 2006

Past Peak

image copyright Fred First

This one's for Mark, who needed a dose of Blue Ridge scenery.

I'll be up on the parkway again tomorrow, though we're well past peak color. Even so, the rusty remnants of summer oaks make a nice image against a certain kind of sky and cloud. I'll be running books a couple of places over that way after an interesting lunch in town, more about which, tomorow! And come to think of it, tomorrow I'll pull out the tree against sky image that comes to mind just now and share.

And never to get only a single thought across in a blog post, let me tell you that the blog transition is underway, and we hope to have the new site open for business by the end of next week, complete with comments once more! I appreciate your patience and your emails. Things are looking good, stay tuned!

And if you've been searching feverishly for something to read about invertebrates, go to the most recent installment of the Circus of the Spineless, where there's lots of execellent lower-life-forms images and words gathered in one place!

Posted by fred1st at 6:18 AM | TrackBack (0)

October 31, 2006

Moving On Along the (Not So Slow) Road

Okay. Yesterday, I got started. Gaining momentum: the hardest part of a daunting task. I want a Table of Contents in the front of the second edition of Slow Road Home, and that is now in place in what will become the InDesign file for version two text.

I'd like you to have a copy of the TOC (helps if you also have the book!) and invite you to download and print the pdf file, then trim it to 5.5 x 8.5" and tuck it in the book so you can go back and find Solomon's Sheets or Slippery Slope of Winter.

Also yesterday, Fragments friend and new blogger Amy F was kind enough to send along her notations of bloopers and apparent bloopers (some will turn out to be just my weird way of saying things, or words I MADE UP!) This was enough to goose me forward, and I have created a revisions page that keeps up with the corrections found by readers (including me). I'd be very grateful if you'd email me (fred1st over on and I'll add your found flubs to the (I hope short) list.

My goal is to have the revised book text and cover files ready to send to Lightningsource in two weeks, so SRH could be available at your local book store by the first of December (if everything goes according to plan. Does that ever happen in real life?)

Posted by fred1st at 6:21 AM | TrackBack (0)

Just Is

image copyright Fred First

"But what are they good for?" a student asked, when on a lab field trip we found these colorful insects in October feeding on the same species of milkweed as these I photographed in a roadside field a month ago.

I told him "ask me that question again in class", which he did, and we talked about our what's-in-it-for-me anthropocentric way of viewing nature. On the one hand, it's a legitimate question: how does this creature impact my life and why should I bother taking note of it? (Turns out, it's easier to say what chinch bugs are BAD FOR in that regard, to the extent that we understand the role in plays in human economies; it's an important pest of turf and grains.) On the other hand, an organism can impact the web of trophic and nutrient flow pathways in ways we cannot calculate into its perceived WORTH to us or to the planet until we manage to drive it toward or to extinction.

And then, for me, this little herd of immature insects in their spiffy black vests were "good for" an interesting photograph and a great question for discussion in biology class.

So what am I GOOD FOR? Hmmm? And YOU?

Posted by fred1st at 4:25 AM | TrackBack (0)

October 30, 2006

Writers' Circle

image copyright Fred First

Over the weekend I attended my first of the 31 annual Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative meetings at the Highlander Center in Newmarket, TN.

It is always a little awkward at first, going into the midst of a group that have a long history together with each other, and a history of only minutes with the new guy on first arrival. But the estrangment lasted maybe a half hour, and if it is any sign of how things went, I stayed up til midnight both nights, not wanting to miss any of the conversation, BS, music or general swarping.

The center of the center is the center of the circle, around which some 30 rocking chairs house anybody that wants to share, lie, pontificate or read their poetry or other writing. No signup sheet, no preferential treatment, no applause, and constructive criticism if requested.

The group, as seems common, was dominated by poets. Even so, my little poetoid essays were well received, and I found some kindred tree-hugging spirits among the group.

Had a chance to talk with lots of folks about what I have written and hope to write. One future endeavor in the near term will be to make revisions to SRH (kind readers, please send typos and other bloopers you run across ASAP!) and prepare for second-edition books from an alternate source than the offset printing of the first run.

I'll be researching LightningSource to digitally print the next books, knowing there will be some concessions in the appearance of the books (tolerable and minor, I'm hoping) but with the advantages of my not having to deal with a half-room full of books, not having to hand deliver them to bookshelves in stores, and especially to the distribution avenues that will open up with a contract with LS.

I also talked with a few folks about the possibility of color plates in books, including the idea of doing a children's nature book that would include photos of the various insects, birds, salamanders and such with the take-home lessons of nature fact, land ethic, stewardship and knowing one's place in the world. Hmmm. Something to think about.

I've hastily put up a gallery of a few SAWC images and will be adding captions over the coming couple of days. I didn't have much success using the Powershot indoors, my fault, not the camera's.

Posted by fred1st at 7:13 AM | TrackBack (0)

October 27, 2006

God's Garden

image copyright Fred First

Deary day ahead, so I need to think back to more colorful scenes from the recent past. I don't know why I haven't posted an image from this photoshoot along the Parkway from a least a month ago. But here you go: a wildflower reminder of what a beautiful world we live in. (Click for larger image, where as is the case for landscapes, the small image just doesn't capture enough of the composition's scale and proportion.)

Pictured: red cardinal flower, orange impatiens, deep yellow sneezeweed and goldenrod, white boneset and purple iron weed--planted by no one, for everybody.

(The landscape version will make a handsome print! I'm hoping to offer Fragments images for sale as prints or cards, but then, I'm hoping for a lot of things. We'll see how that works out.)

Posted by fred1st at 7:47 AM | TrackBack (0)
IF you live in or long for the southern mountains-- IF you are drawn toward the pace and pleasures of unhurried, out-of-the-way places-- IF you hope for a home you are waiting to find, then you will feel at home in the pages of this "memoir of place", Slow Road Home ~ a Blue Ridge Book of Days by Fred First..

Fred's message to readers
Fragmented Fred, Proprietor and ZooKeeper

About Fragments, Fred and Floyd

Send email to Fred

Fragments Image Galleries

Excerpts from Slow Road Home

Latest Comments
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
Recent Entries
Honey Mushrooms I Have Known
Past Peak
Moving On Along the (Not So Slow) Road
Just Is
Writers' Circle
God's Garden
Fragments Lives!
Lose the Left or the Right?
Out of Pocket
Raven's Call ~ Part Four
They Used to Hang Poachers
Closer to the Bone
Weekend Ramble
October Frost

Fragments Image Galleries
Fragments NewsFeed
Fragments Friends @ Technorati
ABOUT "Where I'm From"

There is not a "fragment" in all nature, for every relative fragment of one thing is a full harmonious unit in itself. - A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf ~ John Muir

ABOUT FLOYD VIRGINIA ~ Website for the book
My Place on the Planet: Google Earth
Floyd World Music Festival '04
Floyd County in View
Floyd Country Store
Floyd Virginia Online
Wash. Post on Floyd
Visiting Floyd?
Floyd on the Map

Syndicate this site (XML)
Powered by
Movable Type 3.33


Photoblog Blog Top Sites