Roanoke, Va., through Newcomer’s Eyes, part 7

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 two years ago, and I still love the Blue Ridge Parkway in the fall.  Hope you’ll make time for a special Sunday drive of your own!

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An Open Road & a City of Stars …

Honest words?  The end of daylight savings time is hard for me.

Every year when the daylight wanes and the shadows lengthen, my heart feels it like a stab of grief.  Which sounds silly, but we feel what we feel.

So on Sunday, I decided to hang on to whatever daylight each day holds, however brief it might be.

On a kick of spontaneity at about 2:30 that afternoon, I shook Thomas awake from his nap on the couch.

“Let’s go see the Peaks of Otter,” I said.  “Let’s go right now.”

And that’s what we did.

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We drove out to Bedford on the Blue Ridge Parkway — farther than we had the day before.  The car climbed up and up until the trees thinned and the blue hills loomed and my city was just a tiny cluster of silver rootops far below.

We stopped at almost every overlook — gulped cool blue air.  Posed for silly pictures.  Within an hour we’d pulled up at the Peaks of Otter Lodge, where Sharp Top stands tall over a curve of quiet lake.

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It’s the kind of place people come a long way to visit, but not too long.  A good place for a small wedding, a reunion, a lover’s tryst — all shimmering shoreline and picturesque amber light.

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So we did what lovers do.  We walked around the shoreline snapping pictures of each other, in the amber light.  We had dinner at the lodge, at a table overlooking the water.  We asked the waiter to take a photo:

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When we were finished, we let the car fly back down the hills, the moon flashing in the moonroof.  The valley below was a black bowl of twinkling lights, indiscernible from the black bowl of starlit sky but for the last band of sunset at the horizon.

I looked left.  Far, far below I saw the Star City winking and glittering up at me like a gathering of constellations.  A galaxy.  And right at the center of glow was the larger, whiter glow of the Roanoke Star on top of Mill Mountain — the same one I can see from my bedroom window at night.

That’s my city, I thought to myself.  That’s Home.

My heart is just beginning to believe that those words could be true.