O.Henry Ending

How Green Is Her Valley

A writer’s paean to the Greenway


By Carol Lucas

The word ìhomelandî is not one I typically use, but it sprang to mind on the morning I woke up in my own bed after a weeklong trip to Berlin. The first thing I did was to lace up my sneakers and head to Greensboro’s Greenway.

For some 12 years, I have run or simply wandered on the Greenway’s paths — the Nat Greene, Owl’s Roost, Military Park. And its beauty never fails to soothe my soul. Each season is the best one ever .  .   . until the next rolls in. What could be more rejuvenating than spring’s bright green leaves filling out the trees and the soundtrack of birdsong to sunlight’s playful dance upon the water? In summer, the same trees provide the perfect shade from the sun turned dancer-to-nemesis, making it bearable to be outside. Fall is pure poetry, with the burnt color of the leaves, no longer green but golden yellow, orange, red and brown — all blown to the sides of the path. In winter, the Greenway, in spite of its name, becomes an other-worldly wonderland of icicles formed in mid-drip from the bare branches, slick spots of ice and steam rising off the lake.

As one settles into the Greenway, the wildlife that was once camouflaged slowly comes to view: deer, squirrels, chipmunks and even turkey. On some paths, copperheads and black snakes, blue herons, ducks, geese, fish and frogs share the space. Each creature is a mini marvel.

Memories float in and out as my feet cover the ground. I think of all of the people I have shared this place with. The many miles I have logged with various running groups talking about upcoming races, recent injuries and post-run food. And some of my best trail hikes are with my husband — and our dogs, off leash, frolicking, swimming and covering three times the distance we do. Then there are the walks with a good friend, sharing all of life’s trials and celebrations. And of course, the out and back runs of all distances with my daughters, who are sometimes silent and sometimes share confidences in a way that happens only when people run side-by-side. A trove of visits and conversations, plus happened here; layer upon layer of memories come back and are revisited.

There is something about nature that is both simplifying and purifying. I open my mind and thoughts drift in and out. A troubling notion gnawing on my subconscious has space to sit awhile and gently turn over and over until my mind is ready to let it go. It is a spiritual practice, a returning to roots and waxing of wings.

However much I love churches, with their stained glass windows and ornamentation of the altars, I am closest to the Divine on this lush and wondrous running path. Someday, I will have my ashes scattered here in the proverbial cycle of returning to dust and becoming a part of the Greenway.  OH

Carol Lucas is the owner of Balance and Thrive Coaching and Consulting. Running, yoga and writing help keep her sane — especially as she plans weddings for two of her four daughters this year! This is her first submission.

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