Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 66

GUEST COLUMN

Are You
Home Yet?
For two decades-since back
when "greenway" was a largely
unknown term- Liz Belcher
has been the driving force
behind a phemenon that has
seen the Roanoke, Virginia
area build some 270 miles of
greenways and trails, both
urban and wooded.
DAN SMITH

by Liz Belcher

Liz Belcher: "Greenways and trails connect us to the land in a way that makes this space become
home. We learn to breathe and look and see the daily changes in the natural world around us."

I am. Twenty minutes, one stoplight. You may be quicker. Is
this why we love living in the Roanoke Valley?
I am home here. Did I grow up here? No. I grew up
in Charleston, South Carolina, a tourist mecca; it should
be on your bucket list to visit.
I used to wonder why my mother had a great longing for Virginia. She grew up in Charlottesville, a small
city similar to Charleston with lots of old buildings and
blue-blood value of heritage. We drove the Blue Ridge
Parkway one October when I was a child, and I kept
waiting to see the mountains. Virginia seemed like hills
to me, having only seen the mountains of North Carolina. What was special about this?
I moved to Virginia in 1976 and to the Roanoke Valley in 1979. I can't say that I knew I was home. I started
picking wild raspberries, asparagus and wineberries. I
planted a garden, cut firewood, and hiked on the Appalachian Trail. I explored the many trails of our national
forests and fruits of our orchards and farms. I learned
Virginia could feed my hungers.
But when are you home? Is it when you have lived
in the same house for 25 years? Or when you know every shortcut for 100 miles? Or when you walk through
a cemetery and feel your ancestors tugging from the
ground? Maybe it is when the morning mists of summer
curl in a smile from all those hollows you can name.
Recently, people (not perfect strangers, just people I
don't know) have been saying to me "greenways are the
best thing to happen to Roanoke." I agree, of course. It
66 BlueRidgeCountry.com

has been my work for almost 20 years, but it takes a village. It takes advocates, engineers, donors, politicians,
friends, contractors, clean-up crews, urban foresters,
volunteers. Are greenways what have made Roanoke
home to me and to so many others? I think so. They
sure have helped.
Greenways and trails connect us to the land in a way
that makes this space become home. We learn to breathe
and look and see the daily changes in the river and the
grass, in the natural world around us. We also learn to
see each other. The lady with the two white dogs named
Sasha and Siesha. Gosh, no, I don't know her name, but
yes I know her. She has two kids, three grandkids, and a
bad left knee. I saw her almost every day when we were
building that bridge.
On the greenways we are forced to practice those
things we were supposed to learn in kindergarten -
"share . . . don't hit . . . clean up your own mess . . .
watch out for traffic."
Share. Greenways let us share a love for something
other than ourselves. That thread binds us. It lifts up our
eyes to the hills where we see the play of the rising sun
or the glint of last night's frost. When we are frustrated
or discouraged or jumping out of our skin, it lets us release our energy into the cosmos. It ties us to the land
and to the sky.
Nostalgic? No, I am not looking back. We are better
than we were when I moved here. Roanoke, Virginia.
Roots and wings. It's home to me. 


http://www.BlueRidgeCountry.com

Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015

The Family Farm is Alive and Well in the Virginia Mountains
7 States of Mountain Treks, Complete with a Beer or Wine Stop
The Photo Essay: Autumn Beauty
Wendell Scott Gets His Due
Weekend: Where the North Carolina and Tennessee Mountains Rub Shoulders
Chillin’ in Chattanooga
Charlottesville to Charleston aboard Amtrak
Great Tastes of the West Virginia Panhandle
Cavender Cabins: Enjoy the North Georgia Woods
From the Editor
Letters / Worth a Click
Mill Creek Stories
The Hike
Creature Feature
Mountain Report
Great Home Buys in the Mountains
Country Roads
Festivals & Events
Singing in the Garden
Guest Column: Liz Belcher
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - B1
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - B2
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - From the Editor
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Letters / Worth a Click
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Mill Creek Stories
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - The Hike
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Creature Feature
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Mountain Report
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Great Home Buys in the Mountains
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Country Roads
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 16
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Festivals & Events
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 20
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - The Family Farm is Alive and Well in the Virginia Mountains
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 23
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 24
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 7 States of Mountain Treks, Complete with a Beer or Wine Stop
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - The Photo Essay: Autumn Beauty
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Wendell Scott Gets His Due
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Weekend: Where the North Carolina and Tennessee Mountains Rub Shoulders
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 43
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 44
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Chillin’ in Chattanooga
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 46
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 47
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Charlottesville to Charleston aboard Amtrak
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 50
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 51
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Great Tastes of the West Virginia Panhandle
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 54
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 56
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 58
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 59
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Cavender Cabins: Enjoy the North Georgia Woods
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 62
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Singing in the Garden
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 64
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Guest Column: Liz Belcher
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Cover4
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