Out and About in Bham

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In finalizing the cessation of my other blog, I thought I’d put together some bits and pieces about things to do outdoors around Birmingham.

Moss Rock Preserve

Looking for a spot to get your Saturday morning hike on? Moss Rock Preserve is the perfect place. Situated only minutes from John Hawkins Parkway and Shades Crest Road in Hoover, this 349 acre preserve is a great location for hikers and nature lovers of all ages and skill levels. This is where my husband began getting in shape for a trip to Montana a few years back. There are 12 miles of trails to explore. And it’s free!

Tips:

  • Bring water
  • Leave no trash behind
  • Bring snacks if you have a 5-year old – “I’m hungry” is a common refrain
  • A walking stick comes in handy
  • Watch out for wet, slippery rocks (I speak from experience)
  • Don’t forget your camera

 

Oak Mountain Park

This 9000+ acre park in Pelham, the largest state park in Alabama,  has so much to offer in addition to hiking. There is a beach and swimming area,  boat rentals, camping, biking, golf, nature programs, basketball courts, horseback riding –  and that’s just some of what you’ll find here – whew!

The trails are clearly marked ; when our five year old grandson hiked with us he was a great scout, keeping us on the white and yellow trails. Along the way there was a creek flowing through – a great spot for a break.

Tips:

  • Bug spray is helpful
  • Hiking shoes – it’s not about the looks, it’s about the ankle support
  • Buy a map at the park office and use it
  • Bring water
  • Don’t overdo it

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

bbg1Another beautiful and free place to visit, with so many varieties of roses! I discovered that there is a library at the gardens – mostly botanical related items. I was able to use my library card to check out a few magazines and I can then return them at the Hoover Library – sweet! There is also a wonderful gift shop that has delicious smelling soaps and candles and lots of unique items.

Pepper Place Market

This outdoor market, held on Saturdays,  has not just produce, but lots of local crafts and ready-made food items. There is music to enjoy and on hot days a mister for the kids, or hot adults.

Railroad Park

This 19 acre park along 1st street is right next to Regions Field, home of the Barons. It has numerous paths to walk, water features, two playgrounds, grassy areas for play  or picnicking and even a designated areas for skaters.

Birmingham Zoo

The Zoo is great for all ages. Your best bargain is to get a Membership for a year. This will also get you discounted admission to reciprocal locals across the country. Besides the animals, there is a train ride, carousel, playgrounds,and water play area for the kids. There are also numerous places to get a bite to eat, and also a gift shop.

Tips:

  • If you want to save money, go on half-price Tuesday
  • If you want to avoid crowds, don’t go on Tuesday
  • Use sunscreen
  • Take your time; go with your kids’ pace. It’s better to savor the moments than to try to see everything
  • May is prime Field Trip time for schools
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The Cadence of Scripture

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“How many of us, the South’s writers-to-be of my generation, were blessed in one way or another, if not blessed alike, in not having gone deprived of the King James Version of the Bible. Its cadence entered into our ears and our memories for good. The evidence, or the ghost of it, lingers in all our books. ‘In the beginning was the Word’. “  ~ Eudora Welty, One Writer’s Beginnings

 

While her understanding of John 1:1 is flawed, I find it interesting and sad that this cadence is no longer a part of the lives of children in our country. According to the Shelby Baptist Association, Shelby County is the most unchurched county in Alabama. David Olsen, in his book The American Church in Crisis , states that only 16.4 percent  of the population in Shelby County attends church on a regular basis.

Though I grew up in church and became a Christian at an early age, I am ashamed at how sorely lacking I am in having memorized scripture. Or in having memorized much of anything. I have snatches of verses in my heart and in my head, but I can’t tell you the reference for the majority of them. Growing up in public schools for the most part, I didn’t memorize scripture until seventh grade when, at a Christian school, we were required to recite chapters. Fortunately we were given numerous chances, reciting in chunks, until we got through the entire passage. Sadly, I was always one of the last to complete the requirement. Years later, after listening to the Guess Who’s song, Hang On To Your Life, numerous times throughout my teens,  I read Psalms 22:13-15  as an adult and made the connection between the words spoken in the song and the verse in the Bible:

 

They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.

My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

This is all just food for thought – I don’t really have a conclusion.

 

 

Bama Books #2

Big Fish

I chose this book for several reason, the main one being that the students at Pelham High School, where I sub often, were reading it over the summer. I thought it might give me a little conversation starter come fall. I saw the movie, which has a fantastic soundtrack, and in 2015 I saw the play via Red Mountain Theatre. I think I liked the play the best, followed by the soundtrack. The book kinda left me scratching my head.

 

 

I agree with this critic, the movie was better than the book. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever said that.

You can read my first post on Bama Books HERE 

 

 

I’ve Been Set Down

 

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Birmingham, Alabama

 

This post was originally written three months ago. I was  ruminating on friendships past and future; looking for words of wisdom from scripture and finding nuggets in unexpected places. Surfing the net sometimes provides providential words of encouragement and exhortation.

There is no ideal place for us to serve God except the place He sets us down. We are not to run from it on a whim or sudden notion, but we should serve the Lord in it by being a blessing to those among whom we live.  -Alistair Begg

I have been set down in Alabama; deposited in this south deeper than Florida. Here the grass is softer and the roads hillier; the accent thicker and the seasons more varied. Tornadoes have replaced hurricanes and I have discovered white BBQ sauce. But, God is the same. No matter how much I vacillate, He is the same.

And to quote a fictional character:

 God will put you in the right place. Even if you don’t know it at the time. –  Alec Hardy (quoting his mother)  in Broadchurch

So, I believe I’m in the right place, no matter how I “feel” about it. Maybe I have not yet seen why. But, in our pursuit of becoming foster parents, I think perhaps this is our right place. In taking the steps to follow our desire to foster, it’s been like “going down the chute”.

You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute. – Tina Fey

The Vine That Ate the South

I first became aware of kudzu traveling the highways and byways of Georgia. It was a mystery to me; I just knew it grew like crazy and looked lovely. I even included it in a poem I wrote back in September of 2012; a play on Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken.

The Roads Taken

Two roads converged in a Georgia town

And seeing that both I could travel

At the light I looked around

Nothing there could make me frown

But my plan would soon unravel

Mapquest said there would be a turn

Trusting still I ventured on

Many were lessons I had to learn

Though blessed by views of kudzu and fern

I felt my path was lost and gone

Backtracked that morning more than twice

Turned around on roads of clay

The air still crisp and oh so nice

With music as my only vice

I saw how way leads on to way

I am now telling with a sigh

At last I made my destination

O’er valleys low and hills so high

Beneath a cloudless southern sky

I found a bit of relaxation

 

Two months ago, as I explored a new trail at Red Mountain in Birmingham, I came upon an area covered in kudzu. This was my first real close up and I discovered the blooms that are lovely.

 

 

Right after this I realized that it was overtaking the fence that runs across the back of our yard. Sitting outside this week I kept smelling a wonderful scent. I went to investigate and it was the kudzu blooms. They have the most wonderful aroma – correctly described by others as smelling like grape soda.

 

I did a little research and found out that many parts of the plant are edible. The leaves can be eaten like spinach and the blooms are used for jams. Bees frequent the blooms more during a drought and it is believed they are the reason for a rare purple honey. I may try a recipe one day; a few years ago after reading about dandelions I did eat them. Once.

Known as “the vine that ate the south”, kudzu can grow up to a foot a day. Originally meant to feed livestock and fight soil erosion, it has outgrown its initial usefulness. I’m sure there are many metaphors that can be made of kudzu. Here’s one: facebook is kind of like kudzu – it looks good and smells good, but it can choke out the the things it wraps it tendrils around. So take care – whack away at it when you have to!

For What is Faith?

The prompt for PAD Day 24 was “faith” . The day before I had just posted the following quote while hashtagging on twitter

 

“…you don’t have to understand things for them to be.” – from A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

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September, 2016

 

For What is Faith?

I find myself questioning without doubting
Not understanding but believing
For what is faith?

The substance of things hoped for
Even when my mind is perplexed
My heart is pierced with truth

The evidence of things not seen but sure
Indications and manifestations to hold me
To keep me on the way

Hope, that thing with feathers
Faith fluttering as a breeze
Mystifying yet dependable

Throwback Thursday – My First Alabama Experience

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Here I am looking up to my big brother. This picture was taken in Montgomery, Alabama about 1963. We only lived in this house for a very short time and I have very few memories from that time. I remember walking up a hill to a neighborhood pool. I remember falling down. I also, for some unknown reason, associate the Praying Mantis, or walking stick bug, with the day I fell. And I remember my first kiss. I was playing hide-n-go-seek with my brother and a few of his friends. I came up behind one of them, I think his name was Greg, and kissed him on the elbow.

That’s about it. I sure wish I could remember more. I have stories from my mom, and I can picture them in my head, but they aren’t my memories.

I have so many photographs that bring back so many good memories. But, some bring back sad remembrances as well. Which is how it should be.

I guess I need to have a sit-down with the big brother and pick his brains for HIS memories of Montgomery.