Fascinating lunch Wednesday with Fred First, a Floyd Countian transplanted from Alabama and creator of the Fragments From Floyd Blog.

Fred and his family discovered the joys of Southwestern Virginia living while he was teaching at Wytheville Community College and moved to Goose Creek (after a brief journey to the Dark Side in North Carolina).

As happens when two people talk about living in a rural area (one who moved here and the other who returned after a 38-year absence), the conversation turned to why people come to places like this.

One word. Stress. Or the lack of it, which is what we all seek when we seek solace in the country.

Heading home from the studio the other night when a client in Northern Virginia called.

“Where are you?”

“I’m stuck in a Floyd traffic jam — three cars backed up at the county’s only stop light.”

“I don’t want to hear that. I’ve been sitting on I-66 for 35 minutes and we haven’t moved.”

He sounded stressed. His work day consisted of a stressed filled commute of 45 minutes to an hour to cover less than 5 miles from his home in Northern Virginia to his office in Washington, DC. Then 12 hours in the office, including lunch at a crowded restaurant where he had to wait 30 minutes for a table and then had to shout to be heard over the din, followed by a commute home that would take more than 90 minutes because an accident backed up the road.

He gobbles Tylenol like candy and takes pills to control his blood pressure.

When I’m in Floyd County, my commute is 16 miles from the farm to the studio. It takes 30 minutes are less, including stops at the Post Office to pick up mail and West End Market for coffee. It might take longer if I run into someone I know.

Lunch is a leisurely affair at one of several excellent restaurants in Floyd. Wait for a table? Nah. There’s always room, even if they are full because someone you know will wave you over to join them. Or I can grab a great hamburger from D.J.’s drive-in, a real drive-in restaurant where they still come out to your car to take the order.

The trip home is a pleasant 20 minute drive through the mountains. I usually fall asleep early and wake up early, eager for the new day.