THE SHUTTLESWORTH SENTINEL
201 Vulcan Road, Suite 210 Birmingham, AL 35209 (205) 322-1411 www.shuttlesworthlasseter.com
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COOL BREEZES, WANDERING PATHS, AND THE SMELL OF CAMPFIRE WHAT I LOOK FORWARD TO EVERY FALL
Because Alabama football season is finally here, the entire state will be painted crimson, blue, and orange very soon. The rivalry is fierce, and, while I am a proud alumnus of the University of Alabama and a fan of the Crimson Tide, we at Shuttlesworth Law represent both Tigers and Crimson Tide fans. And, in any case, as culturally ubiquitous as SEC football is in the fall, it’s not the only reason to be excited about the change in seasons. The oppressive summer heat begins to relent, and, at the first whiff of crisp fall air, you can bet I’ll be out in the Alabama wilderness hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking. As many other outdoor enthusiasts in Alabama know well, our state has more than its fair share of beautiful wilderness areas and parks. Not too far out of town is Oak Mountain State Park, which has some of the best mountain biking in the country. If ever I want to get a little more remote, Little River Canyon, the Sipsey Wilderness, and Cheaha Mountain are all worthwhile destinations. Sometimes we’ll even escape to North Carolina and visit the Smoky Mountains. But wherever I go and whoever I’m with, the best time for getting out in nature is in the fall. “THE LONG, HUMID SUMMERS ARE NEARLY UNBEARABLE. BUT WHEN THAT FIRST CRISP, DRY WIND BLOWS THROUGH, I IMMEDIATELY REMEMBER WHAT MAKES LIVING HERE WORTHWHILE.” I’ve been an outdoor enthusiast most of my life. So when I try to think of all the stories and experiences I’ve had outside, too many come to mind. I’ve jumped the gun and gone out to the Sipsey Wilderness when it was still too early in the camping season. I had to battle through armies of spider webs and mosquitoes and guard my steps against copperheads and cottonmouths. I once fell off the path and nearly skewered myself
on a sharp branch. I’ve been lost countless times. Yet, through all of that, I’ve lived to tell the tale, and I return to the wilderness undaunted the following fall.
Over the past few decades, I’ve had a group of backpacking buddies with a similar desire to get out in the woods in the fall. And, while we’ve all moved on into busy lives, I’m glad my wife and dogs enjoy hiking and camping just as much as I do. Try as we might, it’s pretty much impossible to get out of the Birmingham area every weekend. Sometimes, though, my wife and I will get up early and fit in a day hike in a park somewhere nearby. When we can’t get out at all, we’ve got no problem bringing the outdoors to us. At our house, building fires in our wood-burning fireplace is a seasonal ritual. I just love the smell of a campfire. And, while I will neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of this, my wife and daughters have accused me in the past of cranking the A/C in the early fall to make it cold enough in the house to justify building a fire. I love building fires so much that, to the embarrassment of my daughters, I will scout out old pine stumps on hikes to pick up and drag back to our wood pile. They may roll their eyes, but those stumps will burn forever. I don’t really know how my family came to live in Alabama because we are clearly not hot-weather people. The long, humid summers are nearly unbearable. But when that first crisp, dry wind blows through, I immediately remember what makes living here worthwhile.
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