September Needs Its Meds

Is it fall? Is it summer? Let’s examine the evidence. First, it’s after Labor Day and students of all ages are back in school. Score one for fall. However, second, it’s still danged hot outside, and Boot Day — that first wonderful crisp and chilly morning when you can wear those  cool new boots you snagged for 75 percent off this past April — seems like weeks away. So, a point for summer. We’re tied at one-one. Are Halloween decorations in local stores? Fall. Are people still swimming in their outdoor pools? Summer. It’s two-all. Football? Fall. Baseball? Summer. Three-three. Even produce markets seem confused, giving us juicy and sweet watermelons along with plump orange pumpkins & marigolds along with impatiens. Conclusion: Here in the mid-South, September is the month with an identity crisis combined with minor climate disorder. September needs a good counselor. And a meds refill.

One-Stop Shopping …

... for your Fourth of July celebration, because what's more convenient than being able to buy your fireworks and your liquour at the same time and in the same place? (Special thanks to favorite nephew Sam for help with the secret journalism photography.)

Helen Keller and Tuscumbia, Alabama

I always forget that people come from all over the world to our little corner of northwest Alabama to see Helen Keller’s birthplace, Ivy Green, in Tuscumbia. I drive past the historic site practically every day and love seeing school buses and tour buses and license tags from All Those Other Places That Are Not Alabama.  If you’ve never been, you’ve got to schedule a visit. The birthplace is down-home and low-key and you will learn so much. Everyone’s always amazed to see how small the cabin is where Anne Sullivan took her wild-child charge for some intense one-on-one training — and how close the building is to the Keller’s actual house. And the famous water pump is there, too. Now is a good time to come. It’s the Helen Keller Festival, a week of music, art, history, Southern culture and deaf/blind awareness. You also can watch an outdoor performance of “The Miracle Worker” on the Ivy Green grounds — essentially watching the story unfold on the very spot where it happened. Learn more at http://www.helenkellerfestival.com and http://www.helenkellerbirthplace.org/. And while you’re there, be sure to wander around downtown Tuscumbia. You’ll find a cozy local bookstore with real nooks and crannies and comfortable reading spots, a chic women’s boutique, an authentic drugstore where you can get actual old-fashioned milkshakes and malts and my favorite spot of all: A prom- and wedding-dress shop smack dab next to a feed store. I didn’t realize how incongruous this was until one day I saw some Folks Not From Around Here taking a photo. I personally don’t see anything weird about it, but then I’m someone who knows that when you order “tea” in a restaurant, it’s supposed to come in a long tall icy glass and be sweet enough that the spoon stands by itself. So there you go.

Craft Shows

Helen Keller Festival of the Artscraft showI love craft shows! I think it goes back to when I was young in the 1960s and ’70s and my folks would take my brother and me to every arts/crafts festival within miles. That’s where I learned to value handmade — and I still have some of the pieces I bought then with my carefully saved allowance. This weekend, the Helen Keller Festival of the Arts is part of a weeklong celebration of Tuscumbia, Alabama’s most famous native daughter. It wraps up today at Spring Park, and if you’re within miles you should come over and check it out. There’s wonderful pottery, artwork and jewelry, plus food, music and fun throughout the park. Admission to the craft festival is free. Don’t forget to walk up the hill to downtown Tuscumbia and visit Cold Water Books, the local gathering spot where you can get an iced coffee, Helen Keller books you can’t find anywhere else …  and a bathroom. Find out more about the Helen Keller Festival at http://www.helenkellerfestival.com/