Kentucky’s Fall Colors 2012

Fall is perhaps the most spectacular of all four seasons in Kentucky.  My eyes delight in autumnal bursts of vibrant, rustic colors.  Although the leaves may be dying, drifting slowly to the ground, there is something hopeful about crisp, fall air.

Autumn begins with subtle changes in light, a darkening of the evening hours, and a definitive hint of imminent change.  Before fall’s demise Jack Frost inevitably makes his first visit, delighting my children with our sparkling lawn.

 

There is such beauty in the golden hues of fall, a hidden promise in the fading and wilting happening all around us.

 

As summer fades and the days grow short, some complain about feeling blue.  For me, the trees light up the streets, the fields, the rivers, lifting my spirits.  I love to smell the first waft of smoke from a fireplace burning somewhere.  Summer has wound down, but autumn brings magic to the air.

Fall reminds me the year is nearly over, prodding me to look back and appreciate all the changes and wonderful events of the past year, before the whirlwind days of Christmas and the holidays.

Leaves floating lazily on the currents of a Kentucky creek remind me I can never stop the march of time.  “Just go with the flow” is a motto I often use in life.

I love fall in Kentucky.  The intense, humid heat of summer finally gives way to clear, warm days, reminding me of a “good” Irish summer.

Autumn in Kentucky glows with a deep, serious belief in its own magnificence.

Fall’s riotous color displays lift my heart.  I want to grow old like a leaf, full of color and light, drifting on the winds of time without a care in the world.

“I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn

sunshine by staying in the house.  So I spend almost all the

daylight hours in the open air.”

- Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

“Autumn is a second spring,

when every leaf is a flower.”

- Albert Camus

 

 

“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.”

- William Cullen Bryant

 

And so, as you watch the world change around you this fall, remember the only constant in life is change. Embrace the season, letting your hidden colors glow.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

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Louisville’s Sidewalk Derby

Kentucky is Horse Country USA and Louisville is home to the famous Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.  But Louisville is home to another equine derby, locally known as the Sidewalk Derby.

In 2009, the Gallopalooza Showcase auctioned a herd of 132 artistic horses to local businesses and individuals.   These beautifully crafted sculptures can be spotted throughout the city and suburbs.

Gallopalooza is organized every five years.  Just two more years before the next stampede of colorful horses arrives in Louisville.

This amazing celebration of our community, artistically underscores this state’s obsession with horses and racing.

My kids love to play “spot a painted horse” as we drive around town.  Keeping their eyes peeled for spectacularly painted horse statues, provides wonderful free entertainment, that sure beats watching TV.  Since we don’t own a mobile DVD system, we create our own fun-on-the-go.

Each horse is unique and tells a story.  Muhammad Ali, Louisville’s favorite son, is proudly represented on this sculpture alongside the Stars and Stripes.

Thoroughblue rests peacefully on the Main Street sidewalk.

This guy with his checkered flag tale stands proudly outside a local car dealership.

Our medical/dental horse sports a stethoscope, a toothbrush leg and braces to fix his toothy horse smile.

This guy is perfect for playing “name that state”.

This sculpture represents a horse chess piece.  Louisville’s blue bejeweled beauty proudly guards a door on Main Street.

We spotted this guy overlooking some tables outside a restaurant on Market Street.

This stripey spectacle stands in front of a local paint store.  The blanket image on his back replicates a sample paint strip.

This high stepping pose reflects the dancing movements of a show horse.   My kids love this horse.  If you look closely at his tail, you’ll see a little red cardinal perched comfortably, observing the world go by.  He’s part of the sculpture, but my little girl was convinced he was real.

And finally the winner of my “Run for the Roses”, as the Derby is affectionately referred to.  In 1896 the Derby winner was first presented with a cloak of pink and white roses, a tradition proudly upheld each year since.

While driving yesterday we spied this brown filly sporting her beautiful rose garland.  She is not an official Gallopalooza horse, but here in Louisville we love all of our horses, especially those adorned with a garland of roses.

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

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Kentucky’s Wild Flowers

Today is May Day or Bealtaine, the traditional Celtic feast day dedicated to  celebrating new life and nature.

Here in Kentucky our trees are in full leaf.  Wildflowers color the fields and forests.  The world is blooming, brimming  over with new plants.  The sun is shining, warming the air temperatures to promote new growth.  Mother Nature is watering the earth with evening rain storms, helping to spread her palate of rainbow colors everywhere.

To continue this week’s celebration of Kentucky I thought I might share some photos of Kentucky’s wild flowers.

Grasses are growing high in meadows.  Hikers are eager to wander along inviting trails.

Daisies glow in the bright sunshine.

Wild hyacinths beckon with delicate blossoms, peeping out between verdantly green leaves.

Flowers of every imaginable shade of purple, lilac, lavender and violet decorate our wooded trails.

Mother Nature’s showy display is in full force in Kentucky during the month of May.

St. Patrick’s Day is long past, and clover plants are flowering, distracting us from our quest for their ever-so-rare, four-leafed foliage.

Rhododendrons are blooming in hedgerows.

Wild columbines waft in the gentle breezes, awaiting hovering humming birds to sip their precious nectar.

The forest floor is carpeted in purple petals.

And festively decorated in garland-like stems.

And sometimes when you pause a butterfly synchronizes his fluttering wings to the rhythm of your breathing; opens his wings, then suspends them for one solitary moment in time while you click, capturing nature’s sheer beauty.

(I couldn’t believe my eyes when I realized I had actually captured a butterfly with open wings.  I have tried and failed to do so many times in the past. )

Kentucky is beautiful in May.  I hope these pictures give you a little glimpse of Mother Nature’s Kentucky dream.

If you are interested in finding out more about Kentucky’s wild flowers here is a link for a great guide – Pocket Field Guide: Kentucky Wildflowers.

Bealtaine Shona Daoibh Go Léir

Happy May Day to all.

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom

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Louisville’s Brown Hotel – Home Of The Kentucky Hot Brown

Louisville’s historic Brown Hotel will become home to many tourists visiting our city this week for the famous Kentucky Derby.  Revered as the finest hotel in the city its opulent two-story lobby is truly breathtaking.

To celebrate Derby Week I thought I might dedicate my posts to my new hometown and state.  So why not kick off with a photo tour of Louisville’s most loved hotel.

 

When I walk past The Brown,  I feel like I am once again walking in Dublin.  It’s Georgian-Renaissance facade reminds me of some of Dublin’s old hotels like the Gresham or the Shelbourne.  The elegant red awning offers shade from the sun and shelter from the rain, hearkening back to days long gone.  Somehow, this beautiful hotel makes me feel connected to Louisville and its illustrious past.

The hotel is probably most famous as the birthplace of The Hot Brown, a sandwich Louisville proudly claims as a true original.   In the 1920′s Chef Fred Schmidt created this delicious open-face turkey sandwich, smothered in a creamy mornay sauce and decorated with bacon, tomatoes and Pecorino Romano cheese.

Later this week I’ll try my hand at this classic Kentucky dish.  I picked up a copy of the recipe when I visited the Brown last week.  I may have to tweak it a little bit.  A full quart of cream is used for just two servings.  My arteries are screaming just thinking about it.  So stay tuned this week for my version of a Kentucky Hot Brown.

The welcoming hotel lobby is filled with decorative couches, chaise longues, grand pianos, decorative vases, wooden carvings and beautiful paintings.  Every corner seems to whisper:

“Sit down, relax and stay a while.”

 

Once seated my eyes were drawn upwards towards the ornate, hand-painted, coffered ceiling.  The plasterwork detail reminded me of some of the old castles and demesnes of Ireland, which were built in a bygone era when no expense was spared.

In the 1920′s over 1200 guests visited The Brown Hotel each night for dinner dances.  When midnight munchies struck hungry dancers invaded the restaurant, but grew tired of traditional ham and eggs.  The Hot Brown was born to satisfy these energetic dancers.

At every corner in the hotel my subconscious expected to bump into a dancer from yesteryear,  all decked out with hair freshly cut in a bouncing bob and a flapper dress with dancing fringes.

Or perhaps I might find a monocled gentleman reading in a quiet corner.

Louisville and The Brown Hotel are an integral part of Kentucky’s racing heritage.  Beautiful horse carvings stand proudly on marbled-topped tables, with decorative jockeys inspecting the “turf”.  The beautiful Bottocino marble flooring might be a little hard on those hooves.

Galloping horses remind me this town is dedicated to its favorite sport, a pastime my Irish compatriots also truly appreciate.

And so let the races begin.  Join me this week as we celebrate Kentucky, Louisville, and horse racing throughout the coming days.

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

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Georgia On My Mind

In today’s post we skip down the tracks for a short photo tour of Georgia from my mind’s eye.

Georgia means breathtaking vistas framed by mountain pines.

Historic old towns in the shadow of tall water towers.

Quaint stores inviting passers-by to stop in for a chat.

Inspiring murals!

Historical railroads!

Shady benches to escape the midday sun!

Beautiful blossoms!

Stately columned homes!

Porches with rocking chairs!

Country churches!

Red, red clay!

A magnificent aquarium!

And oh, those Georgia pines.

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

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