Roanoke, Va., through Newcomer’s Eyes: Part 5

Sometimes it’s hard to love the place where you live.  Which is why, two years ago, I gave myself a challenge:  every day for forty days I’d find *one* thing that I loved about Roanoke, Virginia.  Then I’d go home and write about it.

From now until mid-October, I’m taking Mondays and Tuesdays and sharing excerpts from my gratitude journey with you.  I hope these little posts give you a glimpse of the city through a newcomer’s eyes, and I hope they encourage you to help me share the sense of belonging that I’ve found here.

I wrote the following little post on Day 7 of my 40-day journey, and it feels just as magical as the day I wrote it.  Enjoy. ❤


Sidewalks, Spider Silk, & the Magic of Everyday Things …

I live in a city where the sidewalks stretch out forever.

Which sounds like a funny thing to be the object of my gratitude.  But in the last place I lived, there were no sidewalks, and my neighborhood connected to the outside world by way of a busy road, its edges littered with broken glass and cigarette butts.  I’d walk the dog with my feet scuffing the gutter, my eyes attuned only to traffic.  When a car passed, I’d leap to the weeds by the asphalt’s edge.

In this place, though, on warm Friday nights, Thomas & I sometimes take the sidewalk all the way to Grandin Village, where we have dinner at Pop’s & listen to the busker who sprawls out with his guitar on a bench.

In fact, if I wanted to, I could let the sidewalk take me across the river and into downtown.  And maybe, some Saturday, I’ll do just that.

But one of my favorite things about the Star City’s never-ending sidewalks is the long list of lovely things I discover while I’m on them.  I find leaves and flowers and feathers, pictures scrawled by children wielding sidewalk chalk.  Once I found a page torn from an antique Bible, and I read the scriptures with hushed delight, as if each had been written for me — and maybe it was.

On Friday, though, I saw a little glimpse of something magical while I stood on the sidewalk right in front of my  house.

It was 6:30 maybe.  I was just arriving home after walking the dog when my husband pulled up, swinging the car sideways into the driveway.

I stopped to let him by, and as I waited for him to park, I watched the sun fall toward the horizon until it swept a beam of yellow just above the ground.

And that’s when I spotted it:  the gleam of gold along strands of spider-silk, glinting at me just above the grass.

I got down on hands and knees and bent low, my face almost touching the sidewalk.  When I turned my head to the left to look out over the yard, I could see a giant web strung out over the tips of the grass, shimmering and trembling over the entire lawn.  You can almost see it in this shot, if you squint:



“Thomas,” I whispered.  “Come look at this.”

(And at this point you should know that I have a remarkably tolerant husband, who acted as if it was completely normal to see his wife wonderstruck on hands and knees on the pavement, gushing about webs and light and loveliness).

And — oh, God, I love this man — he stepped out of the car in his work clothes and stooped down right along with me.

“It’s like another whole world,” he said, his voice filled with awe.  “Like another city.”

“It is,” I said.

And so we looked, and let the light fall down around us as we knelt there on the ribbon of pavement, the one that seems to go on forever and ever, spreading out in each direction like part of a great, wide web over this small, starry-eyed city we call Home.