Friday, December 19, 2014
Five Star Trails: Birmingham, my newly published hiking guide to Birmingham, should be available this weekend at Little Professor Book Center in Homewood, Church Street Coffee and Books in Crestline, Neighborhood Hops and Vine, Mountain High Outfitters, and now at Alabama Outdoors in Homewood. Books-A-Million and Vulcan Park have also carried it.
You'll find a kind mention of the book, plus a lot of other ideas at Joe's Outdoor Office Gift Guide on al.com.
All merchandise available from local merchants.
Couple of other ideas: I highly recommend River Dreams, a film chronicling Hunter Nichols voyage from Birmingham down the Cahaba and out to the Gulf of Mexico. Beautiful, fascinating, sort of makes you want to do it. Except that it looked really tough at points.
Another great documentary film is America's Amazon, an exploration of the Alabama's remarkably biodiverse river system. You may have read about it recently in print editions of The Birmingham News.
Monday, December 15, 2014
Bald Eagles fishing and nesting at Lake Guntersville Dam | AL.com:
"The action takes place most of the day with a slight lull around noon. The fishing starts just after sunrise and peaks between 8-10 a.m. and again between 3 p.m. and sunset.
If you want to visit and see the action for yourself, pack a lunch and bring a good set of binoculars. Also a comfortable folding chair comes in handy. Restrooms are available on the south side of the dam. Dress comfortably and wear warm clothes."
Thursday, December 4, 2014
|A heron sits on a light pole at East Lake Park. Herons traditionally nest on the island in the park, but that could change if more trees are lost to beavers. (The Birmingham News/Linda Stelter)|
Audubon Society scientist highlights urban bird habitats in visit to Birmingham | AL.com:
National Audubon Society Chief Scientist Gary Langham was in Birmingham this week and pointed out that climate change and development are likely to decrease bird habitat and range, but city dwellers can help counter the trend by creating bird friendly habitats:
"Alabama species whose ranges are threatened include the wild turkey, the wood duck, bald eagle, mallard, osprey, and dozens of others.
The good news is that efforts that can help birds also have positive effects on a city, Langham said. "Urban landscapes and corridors that are good for the community in and of themselves, but also help support some of the species that are most at risk for climate change."
The Met Embraces Neglected Southern Artists - The New Yorker: Marla Prather, who will be the curator of the 2016 show, said that the Souls Grown Deep gift represents “significant shifts in the pattern of how the Met has collected art to date.” She said, “African-American art is not a completely overlooked area, but there’s work to be done. To my knowledge, we’ve never looked at a concentrated group of works by black artists” until now. “These artists have been neglected; there isn’t necessarily a substantial art-historical record for them,” she said. Souls Grown Deep’s research has documented a “whole important, legitimate world for scholarly research” that might otherwise have been lost, she added. “It’s been a kind of rescue operation that I’ve found incredibly moving.”
Thursday, November 27, 2014
I thought the world was on a truck bound for hell, until this man told me how to hike to paradise | AL.com
Great piece by John Archibald on appreciating what we've accomplished together in preserving our natural places.
I thought the world was on a truck bound for hell, until this man told me how to hike to paradise | AL.com: Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til ...
You get out and live it.
Is Alabama home to America's Amazon? Journey into one of the planet's treasures, a cradle of biodiversity | AL.com
"Is Alabama home to America's Amazon? Journey into one of the planet's treasures, a cradle of biodiversity | AL.com: This river network and its surrounding forests represent the true cradle of American biodiversity. Because of the Mobile River basin, Alabama is home to more species of freshwater fish, mussels, snails, turtles and crawfish than any other state. And the competition isn't even close."
Friday, November 21, 2014
I included a hike at the Forest Preserve (along with an amble on the Shades Creek Greenway) in Five-Star Trails: Birmingham. One option for exploring the Preserve would be a work day scheduled for this Sunday (though the weather forecast makes it questionable that this will proceed). A schedule of future work days is below. Of course, you can go any time.
Especially now, since the trail just got better thanks to an Eagle Scout Project by Cade Fowler of Troop 95 in Homewood.
Fowler has installed signs for tree identification throughout the mountainside trail system. And its a thoroughly modern system of markings.
Bring your smart phone. The tree identification signs include a QR code, which allows you to pull up extensive information on the tree in question. The sturdy and simplified signage system should avoid problems typically found in these sign systems, which often fade and fall down.
A walk through the guided course reminds us what a magnificent variety of tree species we have, even in this small plot of ground. I enjoyed this walk this week, making a quick escape from work and into the changing leaves. Thanks to Fowler, I may finally complete my education in tree ID.
This Sunday, the Homewood Environmental Commission has scheduled a work day for routine maintenance and invasive plant control on the Preserve. After the work, there will be a guided tour. (Don't expect it to proceed if it's pouring rain).
Volunteers are supposed meet in the eastern side parking lot of the Homewood High School.
Bring gloves, loppers and/or some sort of digging tool to help cut and remove invasive plants.
Email Hans Paul for more info firstname.lastname@example.org or call 807-7357
Work Days are from 2 to 4 pm on Sunday afternoons.
Planned dates of work days:
November 23, 2014
December 7, 2014
December 14, 2014
March 8, 2015
March 15, 2015
March 22, 2015
Monday, November 17, 2014
It's been so dry I've was worried I was going to be accused of faking all that visits to waterfalls since most had probably had ceased to exist. Now, they are back.
Friday, November 14, 2014
(If it is pouring rain, we might have to cancel, but we go if it is just a drizzle).
This hike is going to be guided by Scot Duncan, a Birmingham-Southern professor and author of Southern Wonder: Alabama's Surprising Biodiversity. He is also a principal author of the TrekBirmingham website, which offers geological, biological, and cultural information about various outdoor destinations in the Birmingham area.
Duncan is going be guiding us on a quest to find the remnant populations of longleaf pine on the Red Mountain ridges. The story of the longleaf, Alabama's state tree, is a fascinating one, well told and illustrated in Longleaf, Far as the Eye Can See: A New Vision of North American's Richest Forest.
I'll be there to introduce Duncan, sell and sign books, and recommend hikes on which you can find longleaf.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Pass the word. Besiege the place. Next door to Saw's Juke Joint.
Home Page: Neighborhood Hops & Vine is a retail beer and wine shop located in the heart of Crestline Park. We offer a wide selection of estate and small production wines, craft beer & draft beer to go.
E .O. Wilson is one of the world's foremost biological scientists. He grew up in Alabama and visits the state often. In this past Sunday's New York Times Book Review he penned a tribute to the lasting influence the Boy Scouts of America and its Handbook for Boys had on him.
It may have taken its knocks from the right and the left of late, but I agree with Wilson. It's a force for good. Having spent the past year hiking trails in Central Alabama, I can tell you those trails wouldn't be nearly as appealing without the bridges, kiosks, steps, and platforms built by Scouts. And that's only the self-evident traces that the Scouts leave.
"A Manual for Life - NYTimes.com: I’m well aware that to many, the Boy Scouts seem unsophisticated and outdated. But I ask doubters at least to consider this: If asked to decide who would be both successful in life and exceptionally useful to society, the graduating senior of an elite New England prep school or an Eagle Scout in Kansas, I’d vote for the Eagle Scout."
In Alabama, Judges Play God: Currently, Florida and Delaware are the only other states with override, but their judges use the provision very sparingly, and when they do it’s almost always to convert death sentences to life. Nobody in Delaware is on death row because of override, and it has been fifteen years since a Florida judge has exercised override to impose the death penalty. In thirty-one of the past thirty-two years, Alabama’s judges have condemned someone to death through override at least once.
Friday, November 7, 2014
Want to go hiking? New book highlights the best places in Central Alabama | AL.com
Joe is one the state's best outdoor photographers and writers and when I worked at The Birmingham News we collaborated on many great outdoor expeditions. Explore other posts by Joe at al.com.
Friday, October 31, 2014
Thursday, November 13 - Sip and Sign at Neighborhood Hops and Vine, you friendly neighborhood wine and beer shop, located in the Crestline Park neighborhood, 1109 Dunston Avenue, Birmingham, AL 35213. 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.
Reviving A Southern Industry, From Cotton Field To Clothing Rack : NPR: Keeping Cotton Local
Hanback is one of about 30 people who work at The Factory, home to Alabama Chanin, the fashion and lifestyle company founded by Natalie Chanin. The site includes a cafe, workshop and the company's flagship store.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Great news out of Anniston, Alabama's homebase for hiking and biking.
Anniston receiving almost $1 million in trail project grants | AL.com
Sunday, October 19, 2014
"That is awesome that salamander is still alive," said J.J. Apodaca, one of a small handful of scientists specializing in the endangered Red Hills salamander, Phaeognathus hubrichti, which is one of the rarest creatures in Alabama, and the nation.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Now, I do.
When I was growing up, dogs roamed.
As parents, my wife and I resisted the idea of a dog, despite the begging of the children. I couldn't abide the modern suburban existence of a dog: only getting out to walk on the leash under the hand of the master, the master reduced to picking up poop and fretting whenever the dog escaped confinement.
But we finally broke down and got a wonderful affectionate, older dog. The drawbacks are there but are outweighed by unmitigated affection Pa-Ching brings to the family.
Still, I find the leash walking thing unsatisfying. I want him to be free. And I don't want my arm jerked out of socket.
So, on a recent Saturday we packed up to make our first visit to Remy's Dog Park at Red Mountain Park, a large, fenced, off-leash park which offers both open sunny space and shady woods. No leash, no worries, full-stride running, and unmediated dog socialization.
It was liberating. For me, my son, and our dog.
I now get the dog park thing.
Monday, October 13, 2014
Monday, August 11, 2014
This is a piece in the New Republic about the increasing racial polarization of political parties in Alabama. It's an unfortunate outcome but one that is almost inevitable as a result of two interests that seem to be conflicting but wind up being complementary. First, there is the desire to maximize the political representation and office holding for blacks in Alabama. Second, there is the ascendancy of a conservative Republican Party in the state. Both end up wanting racially-identifiable, safe districts.
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
From one of the studies:
Individuals have both lower mental distress and higher well being when living in urban areas with more green space. Although effects at the individual level were small, the potential cumulative benefit at the community level highlights the importance of policies to protect and promote urban green spaces for well-being.”
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Sunday, July 20, 2014
The Pageant King of Alabama - NYTimes.com: For this, he charges $125 an hour. And hundreds of aspiring beauty queens pay up. They call, text, Skype, even drive to his home in Andalusia, Ala., because Alverson is one of the most successful beauty-pageant coaches in America today.
Sunday, July 13, 2014
Steel Magnolia -- National Geographic Traveler: I’ve found a modern city that has retained its pace and charm, one with many of the accoutrements and attitudes of the New South but without the shiny facelessness common to too many cities around the region. You can do a billion-dollar banking deal in Birmingham. But you can also still eat at Niki’s.
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Saw's BBQ in Homewood is No. 1 on Paula Deen magazine's list of 10 best barbecue places in America | AL.com
Saw's BBQ in Homewood is No. 1 on Paula Deen magazine's list of 10 best barbecue places in America | AL.com: Saw's BBQ is No. 1 with Paula Deen, y'all.
The popular Homewood barbecue joint tops the list of "The Best Barbecue Across America" that appears in the July-August issue of Cooking with Paula Deen magazine, which is available on newsstands now.
Saturday, May 24, 2014
"How “tightness” vs “looseness” explains the U.S. political map: Professors Jesse R. Harrington and Michele J. Gelfand studied "the degree to which social entities are 'tight' (have many strongly enforced rules and little tolerance for deviance) Aversus 'loose' (have few strongly enforced rules and greater tolerance for deviance)" and then produced a ranking of each state from tightest to loosest. (Among the various characteristics they used to define "tight" or "loose" included the use of corporal punishment in schools, the rate of executions, access to alcohol and the legality of same sex unions. You can read the full paper here.)
Friday, May 23, 2014
In case you missed it, here is a nice update of the project in context. It was written by Phillip Ratliff for B-Metro.
In the coming months, a cadre of funders and designers will transform the cut into a gorgeous, and hopefully thriving, pedestrian pathway.
Birmingham’s Rotary Club chapter is spearheading the project, which has an estimated cost of $3.5 million, through a competitive process marking their centennial. When completed (it has an estimated completion date of spring 2015), the Rotary Trail, as it will be called, will anchor new development and provide a crucial segment in the city’s extensive network of bike lanes and pedestrian walkways.
Monday, May 12, 2014
If you haven't already track down a copy of Eating Alabama. It's funny and poignant and thoughtful.
It's on Amazon or iTunes.
Sunday, May 4, 2014
noted this week that Pies was featured on a New York Magazine food blog called Grub Street.
Monday, April 21, 2014
Friday, April 4, 2014
If you want to feel like you have a hand in making the world a little better place for your canine companion, come out to Red Mountain Park on Saturday morning and help build Remy's Dog Park, a six acre, off leash dog park coming soon to the 1,200 acre park off Lakeshore Parkway in the Oxmoor Valley.
Share with friends.Get the word out.
Monday, March 17, 2014
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
One of my favorite Christmas presents has been the new book from Birmingham-Southern College professor Scot Duncan, Southern Wonder: Alabama's Surprising Biodiversity.
Duncan will be talking about the book and signing copies tomorrow night, Thursday, February 6, from 6–8 p.m. at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens – Ireland Room.
This book includes gorgeous pictures, detailed maps and deep-diving science describing Alabama's geology, biology and ecology from the coast to the mountaintops.
Here's more from the Gardens release:
The State of Alabama ranks 5th nationally in biodiversity. Dr. Duncan takes us on a journey through Alabama with insightful prose and 132 beautiful color illustrations. "Southern Wonder" explores the coastal dunes of the Gulf of Mexico to the Tennessee River Valley; interweaves ecology, meteorology, evolution, and geology; and introduces species found only in Alabama, including the cave salamander and the beach mouse. Dr. Duncan’s book has already been hailed by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and naturalist Edward O. Wilson as “one of the most important books ever written about Alabama … a call to Alabama’s people to treasure and protect the state’s living heritage.”
Dr. R. Scot Duncan is an Associate Professor of Biology and Urban Environmental Studies at Birmingham-Southern College. Though he has worked in Uganda, Antarctica and Latin America, he is currently studying endangered species and ecosystems in Alabama, including the Ketona dolomite glades, montane Longleaf Pine woodlands and the Watercress Darter.
Monday, January 20, 2014
Renata Adler on the March to Montgomery : The New Yorker: Adler resists the impulse to write about the march as myth. Instead, she shows how things are a little disorganized.
Having covered many reenactments of the bridge crossing, I'm glad the "disorganized" character of the original march was consistent with the original.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
The latest addition is a behind the scenes tour of the Shades Creek Greenway, the walking and biking train the runs along the creek banks and Lakeshore Parkway in Homewood.
As always, the TrekBirmingham exploration goes below the surface we see as we amble along, delving deeper to explain the geology, ecology, and history of your everyday surroundings. Such as:
Where was the lake that gave Lakeshore Parkway its name?
How to wade the creek and find hog suckers, stonerollers, and shiners.
And for more options and other destinations check out the TrekBirmingham homepage.
Thursday, January 9, 2014
|America's Amazon: an APT documentary on the Mobile Tensaw Delta|
The video, which is available to stream, is part of the Journey Proud series of documentaries about Alabama heritage and culture hosted by Hosted by Joey Brackner, Director of the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, a set on Flickr.
A precious few Whooping Cranes and thousands of Sandhill Cranes and other waterfowl on view at the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge in Decatur, Ala. If you want to go this weekend is the Crane Festival, so plenty to see and do.
It was a good story and a worthy quest. Which will continue. Wreck found in Delta not the Clotilda, the last American slave ship | AL.com ...
My old friend and colleague Joe Songer at al.com has put together a list of outdoor adventures in each of Alabama's 67 counties. The...
This one is a keeper. For those of us who like to explore Alabama, it's often tough to know where to eat in unfamiliar territory. I...