Spring Has Sprung in Birmingham

Spring in BirminghamGranted, we did not have a bad winter, but that doesn’t prevent Alabamians, and transplants like me, from welcoming spring. It is prime season for hiking, and Birmingham has great trails at Ruffner Mountain and Red Mountain Park.

It is also a great time to visit Birmingham’s Zoo and the Botanical Gardens.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 10.31.28 PMDid you know that the Botanical Gardens are Alabama’s largest living museum with more than 12,000 different plants, 25 unique gardens, and over 30 works of original outdoor sculpture spread over 67.5 acres? My favorite is the Japanese Gardens, and I love sitting on a bench looking at the reflection of the bridge over the pond.

Another great spot to enjoy quiet time with a good book is the sculpture garden of the Museum of Fine Arts, and it is always great to celebrate the rebirth of nature in one of the many parks along Highland Avenue. If you like a little more action, be sure to be on Highland Avenue for the Do Dah Day parade. It is a riot only outdone by the October Dachshund parade.

Another Lovely Place to Celebrate Spring is Juniper Springs

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 10.27.19 PMI also got to spend a few days of absolute bliss at my favorite place: Juniper Springs, Florida. Located in the Ocala National Forest, it is one of the oldest recreation areas on the East Coast. It is a place that Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, the author of The Yearling, cherished. If you have not read her books, check them out. The Yearling won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1939. My favorite, however, is Cross Creek, published in 1942.

March is also the month when I get to go to Walt Disney World to do research for the next edition of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids. This year it will be a challenge, as many new attractions are announced but not open yet. But that is for another post.

 

 

Spring Has Sprung in Birmingham

“Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!” — Sitting Bull

ZachNothing could be more true, and I am embracing the results of their love. I cannot express the degree of gratitude I have to be able to welcome spring and, farther down the road, summer.

First we welcomed Zachary to the family. What more can one ask for? It is amazing how the littlest feet can make the biggest footprints in our hearts.

As I learned to cope with running outdoors during winter here in Birmingham, I realized that the joy was in the act of running and in the journey, not in the destination. So I have been running all over this city; if I ever get a car, I think I will not get lost, as I know every part of Birmingham by now.  Running has become the road to self-awareness. Being able to rely on myself and see how far I can push myself is pretty amazing.

Mercedes HalfI cannot imagine a time when I won’t be able to be outdoors and run. Encouraged by my colleague Tanya, I did sign up for the Birmingham Mercedes Half. I loved it!  The race was fun and the post-race activities so much better than any RunDisney event.

Winter in Birmingham was very different from anything I ever experienced in 25 years in New York. An inch of snow is likely to shut down the city, and Birmingham’s kids had a lot of “snow days,” even though I never saw more than an inch or two.

IHeidit was wonderful to welcome friends to the city. Heidi Hoover and I had a blast at the Ringo Starr concert. Who would have thought that Ringo and his All Star Band would play in Birmingham? At age 74 he was still going strong and his drumming simply fabulous. With only two Beatles left on this planet, we felt blessed to just be there. Stan and Sandra Phillips-Posner, the authors of “Drive I-95” made Birmingham a stop and so did Dan Benjoseph with his lovely daughter Marija.

In early March, I was fortunate to have a few days at Juniper Springs, Florida. It was so good to be back at this peaceful place. Juniper Springs is as close to nature as I probably ever get, and I cannot convey how healing nature’s powers are. It was “what the doctor prescribed” for my winter blues. And while the bugs ate me alive, I can’t wait to go back. Juniper

Next came the annual research trip to Walt Disney World with two events for Unofficial Guide authors at the Osceola Library in Celebration and miles of walking in the theme parks.

I am grateful for my new job, my home on Highland Avenue, and the kindness extended to me here in Birmingham, but, after nearly a year here in Alabama, I also know that my heart is still set on one day being able to live in Florida. It does not have to be Orlando. I am not a fool. I know that there is a big difference between Disney and a real life, but I also know that every time I land and see a palm tree, I feel at home.

Spring in BirminghamCelebrating Spring

In the meantime, I am celebrating spring here in Birmingham. I am amazed to see the flowers blossom so early. The amount of pollen blanketing everything here is quite something, so thank God I am not allergic.

In another week the popular Pepper Street Farmer’s Market will open again, and I will be there with bright eyes and a bushy tail.

Spring is all about renewal, the mystery and the creative power of nature, and the music of Igor Stravingsky (The Rite of Spring) comes to my mind. Spring is love, spring is hope, spring is happiness.