As a kid, I used to ride the Alleghany, Ashe and Grayson County backroads with my Dad. And BTW, he was a terrible driver on these adventures, always ending up on the shoulder because he was busy pointing out so-and-so’s family farm and checking out the crop they put in, or commenting on a wildflower currently blooming, or just noticing something that had changed since the last time he took this “shortcut.” My favorite routes always went by the river or some tributary, where we would time our crossing of the one lane low water bridge or the sharp bend in the road. It was the same if we were on the river. The canoe would scrape across the rocks while he tried to remember whose family owned the bottomland we were passing. We watched the ducks and herons and even saw a river otter once. Anyway, I loved it. I listened and I knew how lucky I was.
When I visit now, these places soothe my soul. I take deep, deep breaths without reminding myself to do so. As my grandmother would say looking out across the green, “I rest my eyes upon it.” Like my dad, I also pay attention to all the things that have changed since the last time. Some of them are worrisome. Thank god for the New River Conservancy and all their work to restore, preserve and connect. I will be there for them so they can be there for all of us.
Lyda Adams Carpen