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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.