Over the many decades my family has resided within her borders, they have farmed her land, surviving both drought and flood. They have logged her mountains and dug coal from beneath them.
My grandfather even turned down a tryout with the Cincinnati Redlegs to do so.
They've hunted her hills and fished her streams, never losing sight of the blessings she provided.
In the spring, they watched the snow give way to trillium, spring beauty and anemones, which yielded to the rhododendron and mountain laurel as summer took over the land.
In the fall, her hills glowed with the beauty of the season until the first snows brought peace and slumber to her as she gathered strength to repeat the cycle the next year.
I've never ceased to enjoy her daily show, beginning with the early morning fog and welcoming song of the cardinals, giving way to the views of her valleys as seen from the tips of her majestic mountains, and settling softly into the dusk as the deer shyly venture out to graze and her people settle in to enjoy their friends and families.
Family and other opportunities drew me away, but I yearn for the peace and joy I found among her mountains. All my memories DO gather round her, her splendor and her people.
I had hoped to return to her for her 150th birthday, but I take solace in knowing she is there, ever-enduring, grand and beautiful.
Instead I'll celebrate with a hot dog and chili made from the recipe of MY favorite hot dog stand and photographs of my favorite places in the whole wide world.
Happy 150th Birthday, West Virginia.
Shortel, a paralegal, was born in Webster Springs, grew up in Sissonville, graduated from Sissonville High School and attended Marshall University. She lives in Orlando, Fla., with her husband and has two daughters and a granddaughter. Her email address is cshor...@cfl.rr.com.