There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so we just kept rolling under the stars.
On a sunny spring afternoon, I got to lay on the soft sand of Wailea’s Makena Beach and admire the young surfers chasing waves:
I admired their devotion to take time after school to spend time at the beach, enjoying their time in the ocean. As I lay under the sun’s rays and watched him and his friends repeatedly surf as the waves kept coming, I happily snapped away, learning more about my new Nikon camera and how to photograph someone in motion.
But minutes after I took this photograph, this surfer was caught in the strong waves, and the angle broke his shortboard. Angry with the sea, he flung the broken board on the beach, as I watched him vent his frustration about the destruction.
He then sat on the beach, his calm slowly returning, as he gazed out at the sea – in one moment his ally in gliding across its surface, the next moment his foe as it snapped his surfboard in half.
Sometimes we go to the parks, sitting on a bench, taking the dog to run with fellow canine pals or walking through, enjoying the green surrounds that block out the noise and concrete of the urban life.
But when work is the dominant part of our day, escaping to a park may be difficult depending on where we are.
To have a moment to ourselves can be elusive. But even in the big city, it can be possible.
Like this gentleman, who wanted a moment to check his phone and between the highrises of Toronto’s Front Street, beneath a colourful sculpture, he was out of his office, away from work distractions and able to focus on something personal.
And even if he was aware of me taking the photo of the art, his presence made the photo, and the art even more significant in its message about people.
When I travel to big cities, I try to find these spots, these moments to take in the rhythm of the city, something that can rarely be captured by my camera, until this image.
But despite my malaise about the weather, my love for autumn is always because of the trees – seeing the leaves change from brilliant green to shades of yellow, orange and red is what makes this season palatable for this heat-loving, summer devoted girl.
On the beginnings of autumn, these words from author Stephen King are the embodiment of this time of year in Canada:
“…But then fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed.
It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.”
Wandering around the unique city of Marseille last year, I was curious to learn more about La Friche, a distinct art co-operative:
What I did not expect is that La Friche pushes the boundaries of an art space – it does have a traditional building with offices for arts organizations, exhibition spaces and events, but also has a cafe, garden, live-in studio spaces and an endless offering of graffiti.
This former tobacco manufacturing plant sits in one of the poorer areas of the city, but that doesn’t mean it has to be an island from its community. La Friche put in the skatepark for the locals, mainly kids and teenagers, who come daily to use the benches, ramps and stairs for showing off their board tricks.
And the graffiti – since the building had been abandoned for a number of years, it became a canvas. And when La Friche took it over, they decided to leave it and embrace it. Recycling, reusing, practical, fun, cultural, inspiring – La Friche and its multiple offerings is all that for the artists who work here and the neighbours who play here.
I did not starve while I was in Mobile, Alabama. I did occasionally crave something raw, green and not deep fried, but I won’t deny that I ate well – and despite my allergy to lobster, crab and crayfish (which I do regret every time I’m in a place with amazing seafood) I certainly enjoyed every bite:
My first dinner was at Wintzell’s a local fave for its hearty portions of tasty traditional eats – like seafood gumbo, fried green tomatoes, baked (and raw) oysters and red beans and rice with a side of chicken and sausage.
But I had arrived early, and with my pal Karen, we had discovered Noble South, a light-filled restaurant on Dauphin Street, where we indulged after a morning of travel in watermelon salad, fried catfish, shrimp, kale salad and fried okra:
The next day, after exploring some beautiful Antebellum homes, it was time to eat again – this time at Moe’s BBQ where thick-cut housemade potato chips were served with everything – including my fried shrimp sandwich and in their inventive nachos:
And shockingly I ate again that night – at Lap’s Grocery and Grill, a new restaurant on the bay by the Causeway, so I had to have oysters – raw and baked:
Another day, another round of tasty eats – like the this bigger than my head catfish sandwich at Baumhower’s Restaurant, a friendly sports pub:
And impressively, I did eat again, at the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort in Point Clear, a half hour from Mobile – which of course started with appetizers – Gulf shrimp and deep fried alligator and crab bites:
And the grand finale – I won’t brag, but this dessert was the best of my trip – bread pudding at the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort in Point Clear:
And yes, I lived on lemon and water for a few days when I came home.
Did you know Mardi Gras was first celebrated in the United States in Mobile, Alabama and not New Orleans?
First celebrated in 1703, Mardi Gras’s unique beginnings in Mobile thanks to its French Catholic population. This group to the creation of traditions that are all about pomp and circumstance and fun and parades. Like the robe seen above, the coronation of Mardi Gras king and queens are the highlight of the two and a half week celebrations that precede Lent.
At the Carnival Museum, visitors can learn about the city’s traditions, which are different from New Orleans. Mardi Gras societies (instead of krewes) organize each of their parades, and throws include moon pies as well as beads, candy and toys.
And the pageantry of the Mardi Gras balls is equally over the top – with ladies of the town dressed in their finery and the kings and queens suitably attired in royal robes, often depicting the past family’s connections, like this purple cape on the left. Tradition is paramount in this city when it comes to Mardi Gras.
But there’s still plenty of room for fun – this gallery of historical costumes shows off the past styles of parade participants. For the lovely young debutantes who are also part of the Mardi Gras season, their delicate style seems so simple in comparison to their sparkly counterparts:
But don’t worry, there’s always irreverent fun too:
History, tradition, fun – this museum provides a wealth of information about Mardi Gras – now I know I need to experience the dropping of the giant Moon Pie, and experience this city’s Mardi Gras. Throw me something!
Many articles seem to endlessly discuss the best beaches of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States, but what about the Gulf of Mexico?
Visiting Mobile Bay, it was an interesting discussion – people talked about southern culture, cuisine, traditions, and endlessly about the Gulf. But for us outsiders, we only thought about the disasters – hurricanes and the BP oil spill, not the reality of living near a sea on a daily basis. So I was glad to take a tour of the delta and the bay, to truly understand the connection of this city to its salt water.
Arriving in the city, I crossed this causeway, which made this isolated port city an even more popular place for trading and shipping. The reality of technology – in this case paved roads – helped make it easier for the economy to expand. But the life of the people resides in these waters – fishing, shrimping, crabbing – its all about seafood for the people.
Although this shows one man enjoying a day on the water, commercial fishing is the area’s lifeblood. And as we continued to explore and spot birds, seeing this resilient coastline survive, I listened to my guide, who told us that the state isn’t committed to saving this beauty – having one of the lowest spending dedicated to the environment in the US.
After a couple of hours, I was glad to learn about the area, and its unique place in this part of the world. When storms – tornadoes, hurricanes, rainstorms – hit areas farther north, all that water (and pollution) arrives here. Like a filter for the south east, the delta and Mobile Bay try to protect the Gulf of Mexico as fresh water mixes with salt water. With an environment that is multi-layered and distinct, its on a precipice of economics – and needs a protector.