I have to admit when I saw “Graceful” as the photo challenge of the week, I was a bit stumped. There are no photos of swans, ballerinas, or princesses in my archives. And, alas, I was not going to be able to find any to go out and photograph.
Those are the things I think about when I hear the word graceful. As I pondered it more and thought through the description used in the photo challenge: “something that exists harmoniously with its surroundings,” I decided on a direction.
I think the city and surrounding area of Roanoke, Virginia does just that.
If you aren’t familiar with Roanoke, it is located in the Southwestern portion of Virginia. It also happens to have become my adopted home for the past 3 1/2 years.
According to the City’s government website, the first pioneers explored the Roanoke Valley region as early as the 17th century. As a side note, my genealogical search has turned up with family lines in the surrounding counties as far back as the late 1700’s.
The city of Roanoke was originally called Big Lick, named after the salt that fed the wildlife along the Roanoke River. The town was established in 1852 and became the town of Roanoke in 1882 and a city in 1884.
Its location helped it flourish. To me, the downtown area has a industrial/urban feel. This may be biased as I come from an area of South Florida, where there are no railroads and little to no manufacturing since the establishment of the area was at a much later time.
I like this urban feel to the downtown area. The area has been undergoing a revitalization for some time. I did not move to the area until the summer of 2013 and quite a bit had already taken place in the pedestrian friendly downtown. Since then, more shops and restaurants have spread beyond the initial square to create even more space to wander downtown. Condos have have been built in the upper floors of the historic buildings.
There is almost always something going on. There are festivals, 5k’s and for any of you that are hard core runners (this is not me…my zen is yoga, but one of my 40 before 40 goals is to run a 5k!) the Blue Ridge Marathon will begin and finish downtown in April. Elmwood Park’s amphitheater and The Berglund Center have both been venues for some amazing concerts. There is a Greenway that runs along the Roanoke River, filled with runners, walkers, and bicyclists.
Given the history of having a child involved in a accident and being medflighted to a Level 1 Trauma Center with a brain injury when we lived in Florida, I was relieved to find out the city I was moving to had a Level 1 Trauma Center located in it. It’s not something that I would have ever thought about before living through it. Minutes are critical when there are life-threatening emergencies involved.
Located near the hospital is the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. I find it absolutely fascinating that this is happening where I live. Before I moved, I had gone back to school to work on a degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. The area I was living in Florida had a strong biomedical community and the Bachelor degree was being offered at the local State College. It had great potential because I was busily raising kids, so going off to a University was not an option. I didn’t get too far along before we moved (but I aced Chemistry, Statistics, and A&P after being out of college for 18 years!). My focus changed when I moved here, but I still hold a special place inside for medicine and how the human body functions.
The Roanoke Valley (which encompasses the city and county of Roanoke and the city of Salem) exists harmoniously within its environment. There is a love for the outdoors. A love for green space. It’s nestled between the mountains. Everywhere that I drive, I am facing a mountain range.
And the Blue Ridge Mountains are a sight to behold. My photos only offer a glimpse of the spectacular scenery. A great website to check out about the area is Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge. They have great things on their blog about things to do and see in the region. They also share some amazing Instagram photos (one of mine is in the first snow of 2017 photo album).
Quite a few people travel along the Blue Ridge Parkway every year. Excepting the photos in the city, all of these photos are taken on the Parkway from either Mill Mountain or Roanoke Mountain. The loop road on Roanoke Mountain is now closed for the season. If you plan to travel the Parkway in the winter, always be sure to check with the National Park Service for road closures.
If you should find yourself this way, I think you’ll agree that the cityscape and the surrounding natural landscape exist in a symbiotic relationship. That there is grace and harmony in their coexistence.
Let your light shine!