(Editor's note: When we asked for submissions of your version of "My West Virginia", former Wetzel Chronicle Editor Barbara Minor submitted the following. It was too lengthy to fit in our "My West Virginia" section in the special supplement to this edition of the Wetzel Chronicle. However, we still wanted to share it with our readers.)
How can we pick just one thing? I can't narrow it down to one.
I love West Virginia in the springtime- the bold and brash color of tulips as they open their petals, the gold blaze of the forsythias, the bright emerald hue of the new grass, the sun on my face with a soft breeze in my hair.
I love the fact that in the winter, when a fresh layer of snow blankets the earth, that I can get up early in the morning and stare at an unblemished vista of white with a silence so deep and encompassing that a birdsong seems to wake up the world.
In West Virginia, we still have towns where the number of stoplights can be counted on one hand with digits left over. A traffic jam can be blamed on a tractor hauling in freshly baled hay, or friends stopping their cars in an intersection to catch up. Our commutes are not marred by hours of inching along interstates but are decorated with views of the river, hillsides alive with trillium and snowdrops growing wild, by stately old oil money homes and modest family dwellings where support for the local school is displayed by flags, yard signs, and banners.
I love the fact that in West Virginia, a 10-minute conversation with a new acquaintance leads to a genealogy lesson or a comparison of people you may have in common. I love the fact that whether I walk into the bank, the bar, the library, the hardware store, a restaurant, or a funeral home, chances are the owners are there and they know me by name.
The West Virginia I love has little mom-and-pop stores, brick streets, hot summers, cold winters, citizens who know the value of hard work, neighbors who welcome others into their lives as extended family, and small town celebrations that bring people home-home to West Virginia-from all over the world.
The West Virginia I love rallies around two university teams in football and basketball season, and smaller colleges around the state during seasons when a son, daughter, nephew, niece, neighbor, or grandchild is playing. The West Virginia I love features small schools with teachers who live down the street and who taught our older siblings.
No, there's not one single thing I can name as my favorite. West Virginia is everything-it's beauty and wildness; it's friendship, love and camaraderie; it's nature and progress; it's the calm peaceful evening by the riverbank and the rowdy tailgates at a Mountaineer football game. It's a dichotomy of perfection-whatever one desires-all in one place. West Virginia is home.