When we left here a week ago Sunday, it was snowing. We drove south, seeing more snow, in the snow, for a few hours. Honestly, we were at the Tennessee state line before I stopped seeing little snow piles here & there – especially on the northern facing slopes of roofs. By the time we stopped to gas up & stretch outside of Gatlinburg, the sun was out, the temps were warmer and we were starting to see those little hints of green that signify the arrival of spring.
In deciding to go visit Pat’s folks for spring break instead of the holidays, we thought that warmer temps might mean getting to take advantage of some outdoor activities the weather never seems to cooperate with in the winter months. I was also holding out hope that like that seminal drive I took south 25 years ago last month, I’d leave the snow covered mountains of Virginia (then it was Pennsylvania) and find myself in full on spring once I got out of the car in Alabama. That was how this Pennsylvania girl ended up going to school at Auburn – because Auburn has spring in March. And that was in March, this is April people! Turns out, spring is late getting there too, but at least the northern mountains had some signs of spring, the weather was warm and best of all, there was no snow in the forecast.
We ventured out one day with the Little River Waterkeeper Billy and two of his lovely daughters for a late afternoon paddle up the Little River.
We did a stretch just above DeSoto Falls. It is flat and easily kayakable. It is also this amazingly quiet stretch of river that on this quiet, sunny day in early April left us feeling like the river was all ours. I didn’t bring my camera on that paddle, which I sort of regretted, although kayaking with a nonwaterproof camera, even if you are on a flat stretch of water is probably not a good idea.
We met up at Nippersink Lodge.
That is a scale model replica of the rear elevation of the lodge that hangs among the numerous bird houses on the rear screened in porch. The sort of porch that has ceiling fans, lamps and multiple seating areas. The lodge itself is so incredibly picturesque.
That’s the main room. The one with two pianos tucked into corners. The downstairs bathroom sports a claw foot tub. It’s totally the sort of place to go stay for a week with a good group of friends (Mollie, Rieman, Abigal, Brooke, roadtrip?)
With an hour or so to kill before meeting up with friends for dinner, we stopped in at one of my favorite places in the entire world – the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
Making the gardens even more glorious on this warm, sunny afternoon was all the things in bloom. Like these early blooming magnolias, the ‘Daybreak’ Magnolia above.
It’s sort of hard to tell from this shot, but understory plantings in that area were camillas. There were at least a dozen and they were all in full bloom. The smell was amazing. There really is nothing like the smell of springtime in the Deep South.
Absolutely worth the 10 hour drive home, upon which we were greeted by this.
Turns out, some edges of some of the blooms got slightly pinched by the winter that overstayed its welcome, but somehow, the tree made it through relatively unscathed. It commands your eye for blocks around. And the scent? How I wish you could somehow capture the scent in a picture.