There’s a mall in Roanoke by that name: Valley View. And sure enough, you can turn ’round in the parking lot and in every direction find higher ground, the irregular ridges that rim the Roanoke Valley. Though it has grown busy and cluttered with “development”, the Roanoke Valley still seems a sheltering kind of place whose ring of mountains connects even the shopper or traveler with the landscape.
A flatter cityscape would remain more generic, less placed, devoid of the personality and landmarks that let a Roanoker orient by the distinctive skyline: Tinker mountain to the north, Poor Mountain west, the ridges the Parkway follows south, and Catawba Mountain north. It is a valley large enough to feel both spacious and sheltering.
I forget sometimes, almost eight years now living down along Goose Creek, how much I enjoy the expanse of sky, of cloudscapes, of distant vistas enjoyed from places higher and more open than the confines of our narrow cleft of valley. I would have wanted to see more of this thunderhead that boiled over Franklin County yesterday afternoon.
From our deck of the cabin on Walnut Knob where we lived before we moved to this spot in ’99, we would have had the wide-screen OmniMax view, 180 degrees of piedmont from box seats a thousand feet above the plain, and a sky full of roiling wet-pink cumulus, performing for free.
But we have to take the peeks at that larger world from the oval of clearing above our pasture. And most times, it is quite enough.
Click the image above for more details of the clouds.