Sunday, May 20, 2007

BOOK: "Slow Road Home" (second edition), by Fred First (Goose Creek Press, $15.95)

TARGET AUDIENCE: People who find wonder in the woods and joy in solitude.

Perhaps Fred First was a thoughtful man even before he moved to Goose Creek. Thoughtful and observant. But living on (or, as he characterizes it, being married to) his particular plot of land in rural Floyd County, Va., surely has sharpened his senses. His book of Blue Ridge days demonstrates the value of focusing on just one place, watching it through multiple seasons and learning the names of things. ("What we have names for, we are more likely to notice and appreciate.")

In midlife, First, whose training was in biology and physical therapy, suddenly had to find a new answer to "What do you do?" His tentative response: "I put away scraps from the everyday, collect odd bits of experience and memory." Among them are the arrival of Mexico-bound monarch butterflies, the almost sacred gathering of firewood, and the rich "Life of the Nose" of his canine partner, "Buster, Dog of Destiny."

-- Jerry V. Haines

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