Ruth von Saurma: Huntsvilleâ€™s Countess | Creatures of Comfort | Things We Love for Spring
Thirty-Three Individuals Who Are Making a Difference in Our Communities
MAR/APR 2013 $3.95
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March/April 2013 LOVE US? If you like No’Ala, be sure to check out our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you! No’Ala Huntsville
When it comes to those in need of a friendly face, Huntsville’s Therapy Partners is lending a helping paw.
BY LAURA ANDERS LEE PHOTOS BY PATRICK HOOD
Thirty-three individuals who are making a difference in the Valley and beyond. PORTRAITS BY
CLICK PHOTO DESIGNS BY SARAH BREWER GLASS JAR PHOTOGRAPHY CAROLE FORÊT DAVID HIGGINBOTHAM LESLIE ADAIR PHOTOGRAPHY & DESIGN WHITE RABBIT STUDIOS PRODUCED BY CLAIRE STEWART
From Berlin to the Rocket City, Ruth von Saurma is truly Huntsville’s Countess.
BY LAURA ANDERS LEE PHOTOS BY PATRICK HOOD
ON THE COVER Jewelry Designer Kathy Chan, photographed by David Higginbotham. Instructor José Betancourt photographed by Carole Forêt.
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contents HUN TSVILLE ••••• March/April 2013 Volume 2: Issue 2 ••• C. Allen Tomlinson Editor-In-Chief David Sims Creative Director Contributing Writers Amy Collins, Sarah Gaede, Laura Anders Lee, Claire Stewart, Allen Tomlinson Contributing Photographers Click Photo Designs by Sarah Brewer, Carole Forêt, Glass Jar Photography, David Higginbotham, Patrick Hood, Leslie Adair Photography & Design, Danny Mitchell, White Rabbit Studios Marketing Coordinator/Advertising Sales Heidi King
GOOD DOGS Therapy Partners proves that animals and humans are truly good for each other. PAGE 12.
Features Manager Claire Stewart Business Manager Roy Hall
PHOTO BY MARGIE WEISMAN
Graphic Designer Rowan Finnegan Interns Mack Cornwell, Ryan Paine •••
Calendar Events for March-April 2013
Market Things We Love for Spring BY CLAIRE STEWART
Food for Thought Why Not Make Your Own Artisan Bread? BY SARAH GAEDE
Back Talk Who Is The Most Inspirational Person You Know? BY CLAIRE STEWART
The Vine Chablis—Refreshing and Food-Friendly BY AMY COLLINS
Parting Shot BY LESLIE ADAIR PHOTOGRAPHY & DESIGN
N O ’A L A H U N T S V I L L E ADV IS ORY B OAR D Jennifer Doss Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Leslie Ecklund Burritt on the Mountain Dan Halcomb Huntsville Symphony Orchestra
No’Ala is published six times annually by No’Ala Press PO Box 2530, Florence, AL 35630 Phone: 800-779-4222 | Fax: 256-766-4106 Web: www.noalapress.com Standard postage paid at Huntsville, AL. A one-year subscription is $19.95 for delivery in the United States. Signed articles reflect only the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors. Advertisers are solely responsible for the content of their advertisements. © 2008-2013 No’Ala Press, All rights reserved.
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editor’s letter « Allen Tomlinson « 7
IN EVERY COMMUNITY, THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO TAKE A VISIBLE ROLE AND THOSE WHO WORK QUIETLY BEHIND THE SCENES. A VIBRANT REGION NEEDS BOTH, AND OUR AREA IS LUCKY TO HAVE PEOPLE WHO ARE WILLING TO WORK HARD TO MAKE GOOD THINGS HAPPEN HERE. In this issue, we’re spotlighting several of those people, most of whom are so passionate about what they love that they work without any thought to bringing attention to themselves. They are involved in the arts, in social services, in teaching and mentoring, and making a diﬀerence. They truly are the Heart and Soul of the Valley, and we are so impressed with them and the diﬀerence they are making, we want to introduce you to them. With the help of six outstanding and talented photographers, we’re giving you a glimpse into these people’s lives and making a brief introduction. If you know them, you might want to thank them for the things they do. If you don’t know them, you will want to. One person who has made quite a diﬀerence in her long and interesting life is Ruth von Saurma, a fascinating woman we interviewed for this issue. A gracious and warm hostess, her work for Wernher von Braun’s was just one interesting segment of a sometimes challenging and exciting life. Next to that, take a look at our article about Therapy Partners; even if you aren’t as crazy about dogs as we are, you are going to be impressed by the work this organization does! This issue marks the end of our ﬁrst year of publication in Huntsville, and we thank you for making our welcome such a warm one. We’ve grown, we’re getting to know more and more people, and we’re about to open our Huntsville oﬃce in historic and creative Lowe Mill. We’ve been involved in North Alabama for a long time, but hardly a day goes by without learning about more and more interesting projects and people that are shaping this place and making it the very best place in the world to live. The hearts here are large, and the soul of this place is good. The energy here is just right. There’s an early spring in the forecast, and our next issue is all about homes and gardens. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and start working in the garden and chronicling your work there, too! Please take a moment to thank our advertisers for their support of this publication…shop locally—and enjoy the spring!
Editor’s Note: In our last issue, we published an engagement photo of Jenny Randolph and Josh Daily, but misspelled the bride’s name. We regret this error.
And apologies to another bride, Nikki-Dee and her bridesmaid, Chalie, victims of our over-zealous spell checkers. We regret these errors.
Now through March 30 The Scottsboro Boys, Outside the Protective Circle of Humanity Tues-Fri 10:00am-5:00pm and Sat 10:00am-2:00pm; Free admission; Carnegie Visual Arts Center; 207 Church St., Decatur; (256) 341-0562; carnegiearts.org
Now through March 31 Exhibit: Lois Mailou Jones: A Life in Vibrant Color Tues-Sat 11:00am-4:00pm; Sun 1:00pm-4:00pm; Huntsville Museum of Art; 300 Church St.; (256) 535-4350; hsvmuseum.org
Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Presents Casual Classic Series: Songs of Love and Lust 3:30pm; $20; Randolph School of Fine Arts; 4915 Garth Rd; (256) 539-4818; hso.org
Now through May 5 Exhibit: Sound and Vision: Monumental Rock & Roll Photography Tues-Sat 11:00am-4:00pm; Sun 1:00pm-4:00pm; Huntsville Museum of Art; 300 Church St.; (256) 535-4350; hsvmuseum.org
March 8-10 Broadway Theatre League Presents Monty Pythons’ Spamalot Fri 8:00pm; Sat 2:00pm and 8:00pm; Sun 2:00pm and 7:30pm; from $37; Marc C. Smith Concert Hall; 700 Monroe St.; (256) 518-6155; broadwaytheatreleague.org
Now through August 31 Special Exhibit: Black Holes: Space Warps & Time Twists Daily from 9:00am-5:00pm; U.S. Space and Rocket Center; One Tranquility Base; $25 adults, $20 children, and free under 5 years old; (256) 837-3400; rocketcenter.com
Joshua Bell in Concert 3:00pm; $25 for students, $35 for seniors, and $40 for adults; Trinity United Methodist Church; 607 Airport Rd.; (256) 489-7415; hcmg.org
Hello Sunshine Children’s Program 10:30am–noon; $25 adults, $20 children, and free under 5 years old; U.S. Space and Rocket Center; One Tranquility Base; (256) 837-3400; rocketcenter.com
March 1 Jim Parker’s Songwriters Series 6:30pm; From $25; Von Braun Center Playhouse; 700 Monroe St.; (256) 533-1953; jimparkermusic.com Monkey Speak Open Mic Night 8:00pm; $5; Flying Monkey at Lowe Mill; 2211 Seminole Dr.; (256) 533-0399; flyingmonkeyarts.org March 1-2 Leon Sheffield Play 7:30pm; $15; Princess Theatre; 112 Second Ave., Decatur; (256) 350-1745; princesstheatre.org Merrimack Hall Presents Spencers: Theatre of Illusion 7:30pm; from $22; Merrimack Hall; 3320 Triana Blvd.; (256) 534-6455; merrimackhall.com March 2 Terraforming Children’s Program 10:30am –noon; U.S. Space and Rocket Center; One Tranquility Base; $25 adults, $20 children, and free under 5 years old; (256) 837-3400; rocketcenter.com Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Presents Free Family Concert: explORCHESTRA 11:00am; Free; Marc C. Smith Concert Hall; 700 Monroe St.; (256) 539-4818; hso.org Sci-Quest Parents’ Night Out 6:00pm-10:00pm; $20 for first child, $15 for additional children ages 4-12; 102 D Wynn Dr.; (256) 837-0606; sci-quest.org Huntsville Museum of Art Black Tie Gala 7:00pm; $150; Huntsville Museum of Art; 300 Church St.; (256) 535-4350; hsvmuseum.org
Artist Market Noon-4:00pm; Free; Flying Monkey at Lowe Mill; 2211 Seminole Dr.; (256) 533-0399; lowemill.net World Conspiracy Zombie Prom 8:00pm; Admission charged; Lowe Mill; 2211 Seminole Dr.; (256) 533-0399; lowemill.net March 14 Beloved Book Club 7:30pm; Free; Beloved Books and Gallery at Lowe Mill; 2211 Seminole Dr.; (256) 533-0399; lowemill.net March 15 Sci-Quest Parents’ Night Out 6:00pm-10:00pm; $20 for first child, $15 for additional children ages 4-12; 102 D Wynn Dr.; (256) 837-0606; sci-quest.org March 15-16 NEACA Spring Craft Show Fri and Sat 9:00am-7:00pm, Sun noon-5:00pm; Free; Von Braun Center; 700 Monroe St.; (256) 533-1953 March 15-17 Play: Our Town Fri and Sat 7:30pm and Sun 2:00pm; $15-$17; Von Braun Center Playhouse; 700 Monroe St.; (256) 536-0807; yourseatiswaiting.org March 16 Junior League of Morgan County’s American Girl Fashion Show 10:00am and 2:00pm; Admission charged; Princess Theatre; 112 Second Ave., Decatur; (256) 350-1745; princesstheatre.org Huntsville Museum of Art Family Program 11:00am-1:00pm; Free; Huntsville Museum of Art; 300 Church St.; (256) 535-4350; hsvmuseum.org
Artist Market Noon-4:00pm; Free; Flying Monkey at Lowe Mill; 2211 Seminole Dr.; (256) 533-0399; lowemill.net Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Presents Enigmatic Voices 7:30pm; From $25; Marc C. Smith Concert Hall; 700 Monroe St.; (256) 539-4818 hso.org Old City Buskers / Huntsville Swing Dance Society 8:00pm; $7 students and $10 adults; Flying Monkey at Lowe Mill; 2211 Seminole Dr.; (256) 533-0399; lowemill.net March 16 Through August The Whimsical Woods Tues-Sat 9:00am-5:00pm; Sun noon-5:00pm; $8 adults, $7 seniors and military, $5 students, $4 children; 3101 Burritt Dr.; (256) 536-2882; thewhimsicalwoods.com March 17 St. Patrickâ€™s Day Pajanimals Live 4:30pm; $39.50; Marc C. Smith Concert Hall; 700 Monroe St.; (800) 745-3000; ticketmaster.com March 18 Harlem Globetrotters 7:00pm; from $22; Von Braun Center; 700 Monroe St.; (800) 745-3000; ticketmaster.com
March 21 Botanical Gardens Presents An Affair of the Hat 11:00am; Admission charged; 4747 Bob Wallace Ave.; (256) 830-4447; hsvbg.org March 21-23 Theatre Huntsville Presents Our Town Fri and Sat 7:30pm and Sun 2:00pm; $15-$17; Von Braun Center Playhouse; 700 Monroe St.; (256) 536-0807; yourseatiswaiting.org March 22 Rod Carrington the Comedian 7:00pm; from $43.75; Marc C. Smith Concert Hall; 700 Monroe St.; (800) 745-3000; vonbrauncenter.com Trace Atkins in Concert 7:30pm; From $32.50; Von Braun Center; 700 Monroe St.; (800) 745-3000; ticketmaster.com Squidlings Brothers Circus Sideshow 8:00pm; Admission charged; Flying Monkey at Lowe Mill; 2211 Seminole Dr.; (256) 533-0399; lowemill.net March 22-23 Merrimack Hall Presents The Marvelous Wonderettes Fri 7:30pm and Sat 2:00pm and 7:30pm; From $32; Merrimack Hall; 3320 Triana Blvd.; (256) 534-6455; merrimackhall.com Continued page 10
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March 23 Artist Market Noon-4:00pm; Free; Flying Monkey at Lowe Mill; 2211 Seminole Dr.; (256) 533-0399; lowemill.net Huntsville Museum of Art White Elephant Sale 8:00am-3:00pm; Free; Huntsville Museum of Art; 300 Church St.; (256) 535-4350; hsvmuseum.org March 24 Broadway Theatre League Presents Garrison Keillor 3:00pm; Marc C. Smith Concert Hall; 700 Monroe St.; from $37; (256) 518-6155; broadwaytheatreleague.org March 27 Art Critique 6:00pm; Free; Lowe Mill; 2211 Seminole Dr.; (256) 533-0399; lowemill.net Epic Comedy 8:00pm; $7; Lowe Mill; 2211 Seminole Dr.; (256) 533-0399; lowemill.net March 30 Peter Cottontail Express 11:00am, 1:00pm, 2:00pm, and 3:00pm; Admission charged; North Alabama Railroad Museum; 694 Chase Rd.; (256) 851-6276; northalabamarailroadmuseum.com Humpty Dumpty’s “Eggstra” Special Celebration 11:00am-3:00pm; $8 adults, $7 seniors and military, $5 students, $4 children; 3101 Burritt Dr.; (256) 536-2882; burrittonthemountain.com Artist Market Noon-4:00pm; Free; Flying Monkey at Lowe Mill; 2211 Seminole Dr.; (256) 533-0399; lowemill.net March 31 Easter Sunday April 5-6 The Bank Street Players Present The King and I Time TBD; Admission charged; Princess Theatre; 112 Second Ave., Decatur; (256) 340-1778; princesstheatre.org April 5 A&M Black Tie Gala 5:30pm; Admission charged; Von Braun Center; 700 Monroe St.; (256) 372-8344; aamu.edu Concert on the Docks with Kush Reggae Band 6:00pm; Free; Lowe Mill; 2211 Seminole Dr.; (256) 533-0399; lowemill.net Huntsville Community Chorus Chamber Chorale Spring Concert 7:30pm; Admission charged; Location TBD; (256) 533-6606; thechorus.org April 5-7 Youth Ballet Theatre Presents Sleeping Beauty Fri 7:30pm, Sat 2:00pm and 7:30pm, and Sun 2:00pm; $16 adults and $12 students, seniors, and military; Von Braun Center Playhouse; 700 Monroe St.; (256) 881-5930; fairytaleballet.org
Broadway Theatre League Presents Chicago Fri 8:00pm, Sat 2:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sun 2:00pm and 7:30pm; from $37; Marc C. Smith Concert Hall; 700 Monroe St.; (256) 518-6155; broadwaytheatreleague.org April 6 Artist Market Noon-4:00pm; Free; Flying Monkey at Lowe Mill; 2211 Seminole Dr.; (256) 533-0399; lowemill.net Sci-Quest Parents’ Night Out 6:00pm-10:00pm; $20 for first child, $15 for additional children ages 4-12; 102 D Wynn Dr.; (256) 837-0606; sci-quest.org April 6-7 McGregor’s Spring Farm Days Sat 10:00am-4:00pm and Sun noon-4:00pm; $8 adults, $7 seniors and military, $5 students, $4 children; 3101 Burritt Dr.; (256) 536-2882; burrittonthemountain.com April 9-May 11 Exclamations! Artwork by the students of Jackie Briscoe Tues-Fri 10:00am-5:00pm and Sat 10:00am-2:00pm; Free admission; Carnegie Visual Arts Center; 207 Church St., Decatur; (256) 341-0562; carnegiearts.org April 9 Big Band Bash 7:00pm; $10; Princess Theatre; 112 Second Ave., Decatur; (256) 350-1745; princesstheatre.org April 11 Calhoun Writer’s Conference Featuring Judith Ortiz Cofer 7:00pm; $10 for adults and $5 for children; Princess Theatre; 112 Second Ave., Decatur; (256) 350-1745; princesstheatre.org Beloved Book Club 7:30pm; Free; Beloved Books and Gallery at Lowe Mill; 2211 Seminole Dr.; (256) 533-0399; lowemill.net April 12-13 Princess Theatre Presents Petals for the Princess Fri noon, $30 Albany Bistro with guest speaker; 6:00pm Jazz Preview Party, $20; Sat 1:30pm; free; Eating Alabama by Andrew Beck Grace; Princess Theatre; 112 Second Ave., Decatur; (256) 350-1745; petalsfortheprincess.com April 12 Concert on the Docks with St. Paul and the Broken Bones 6:00pm; Free; Lowe Mill; 2211 Seminole Dr.; (256) 533-0399; lowemill.net Jim Parker’s Songwriters Series 6:30pm; From $25; Von Braun Center Playhouse, 700 Monroe St.; (256) 533-1953; jimparkermusic.com April 12-13 Community Ballet Presents Billy the Kid Fri 7:15pm; Sat 1:45pm and 7:15pm; From $16; Marc C. Smith Concert Hall; 700 Monroe St.; communityballet.org April 13 Artist Market Noon-4:00pm; Free; Flying Monkey at Lowe Mill; 2211 Seminole Dr.; (256) 533-0399; lowemill.net April 19 Sci-Quest Parents’ Night Out 6:00pm-10:00pm; $20 for first child, $15 for additional children ages 4-12; 102 D Wynn Dr.; (256) 837-0606; sci-quest.org
Bank Street Players Presents Eight, The Play Time TBD; Admission charged; Princess Theatre; 112 Second Ave., Decatur; (256) 350-1745; princesstheatre.org April 19-21 Fantasy Playhouse Childrenâ€™s Theater Presents Stuart Little Fri 7:00pm; Sat and Sun 1:30pm and 5:00pm; $14; Von Braun Center Playhouse; 700 Monroe St.; (256) 539-6829; www.letthemagicbegin.org April 20 Huntsville Museum of Art Family Program 11:00am-1:00pm; Free; Huntsville Museum of Art; 300 Church St.; (256) 535-4350; hsvmuseum.org Artist Market Noon-4:00pm; Free; Flying Monkey at Lowe Mill; 2211 Seminole Dr.; (256) 533-0399; lowemill.net Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Presents Ode To Joy 7:30pm; From $25; Marc C. Smith Concert Hall; 700 Monroe St.; hso.org April Mae and the June Bugs by the Huntsville Swing Society 8:00pm; $7 students and $10 adults; Lowe Mill; 2211 Seminole Dr.; (256) 533-0399; lowemill.net April 22-26 Huntsville Museum of Art Master Artist Workshop 9:30am; Admission charged; Huntsville Museum of Art; 300 Church St.; (256) 535-4350; hsvmuseum.org April 24 Art Critique 6:00pm; Free; Lowe Mill; 2211 Seminole Dr.; (256) 533-0399; lowemill.net April 25- 27 The 20th annual NASA Great Moonbuggy Race Daily from 9:00am-5:00pm; $25 adults, $20 children, and free under 5 years old; U.S. Space and Rocket Center; One Tranquility Base; (256) 837-3400; rocketcenter.com April 26 Concert on the Docks with Unknown Lyric 6:00pm; Free; Lowe Mill; 2211 Seminole Dr.; (256) 533-0399; lowemill.net Huntsville Chamber Music Guild Presents Yakov Kasman 7:30pm; $15 for students, $20 for seniors, and $25 for adults; Trinity United Methodist Church; 607 Airport Rd.; (256) 489-7415; hcmg.org April 26-27 River City Film Festival Various screening times; $5; Princess Theatre; 112 Second Ave., Decatur; (256) 350-1745; princesstheatre.org April 26-28 Fantasy Playhouse Childrenâ€™s Theater Presents Stuart Little Fri 7:00pm; Sat and Sun 1:30pm and 5:00pm; $14; Von Braun Center Playhouse; 700 Monroe St.; (256) 539-6829; www.letthemagicbegin.org Panoply Arts Festival Daily; $5 per day or $10 weekend pass; Big Spring Park; (256) 519-2787; artshuntsville.org
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THERE ARE DOGS IN SHELTERS TODAY WHO COULD BE THERAPY DOGS. AS TIME GOES ON, WE WILL BETTER UNDERSTAND AND APPRECIATE THESE ANIMALS AND WHAT THEY CAN DO.” —MARGIE WEISMAN
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C ARSON STRUGGLED TO READ, AND HIS CLASSMATES OFTEN ERUPTED IN LAUGHTER AT ONE WRONG WORD; K AREN CRIED INCONSOLABLY FOR MONTHS AFTER HER PARENTS DIED IN A CAR ACCIDENT; STEVE JUST LEARNED HIS CANCER WAS UNAFFECTED BY THE SECOND ROUND OF CHEMO; SUSAN SPENT ANOTHER LONG, LONELY DAY AT THE NURSING HOME WHERE SHE HADN’T HAD A VISITOR IN YEARS… Enter man’s best friend.
Cheerful greeters, patient listeners, soft snugglers…a few dozen dogs, a cat, and a bunny have been offering a little comfort to people just like these in a program called Therapy Partners.
TEXT BY L AURA ANDERS LEE PHOTOS BY PATRICK HOOD
The program comprises 29 owner-and-pet teams who meet the emotional, psychological, and educational needs of children and adults. In the past year, Therapy Partners has had 10,000 interactions with around two dozen organizations in the community, from Huntsville Hospital Pediatrics to the public school system to Hospice Family Care. At home with their owners they are regular dogs, but at work, they are counselors, friends, and a listening ear. “The effect the animals have on people is scientifically based,” says Margie Weisman who serves as the program’s volunteer executive director. “Their heart rate and blood pressure go down. They release pheromones.” Therapy Partners was founded 18 years ago by Connie Gates and Mimi Bynum, counselors who met at an obedience training class for their dogs. While Mimi’s father was sick at the hospital, he kept asking for his dog but wasn’t permitted to see him. The two decided to start a program where dogs could spread joy to people going through a difficult time. Today, the handlers and their pet partners spend time in various organizations each week as well as being on call with the Red Cross and United Way in emergency situations. “When the shootings occurred at UAH, we took the dogs for two and a half weeks to the Shelby Building in the lobby where it occurred,” says Margie.
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THE EFFECT THE ANIMALS HAVE ON PEOPLE IS SCIENTIFICALLY BASED. THEIR HEART RATE AND BLOOD PRESSURE GO DOWN. THEY RELEASE PHEROMONES.” —MARGIE WEISMAN
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The college students were wary of opening up to the counselors who were on duty, but it was a different story with the dogs. “The students came to us,” Margie recalls. “Like a fire, the dogs drew them in. They started talking about the dogs, and the dogs became a bridge for them to talk about the event and the kind of things they were dealing with. Soon the counselors joined in the conversation. It was easy for the students to see them as people then and not just professionals.” Therapy Partners also visited Sparkman 9 after a student was killed in a tornado last year. “Students had never expressed emotion on what happened but something about putting their arms around a fluffy dog made them loosen tensions and open up,” Margie says. Stephanie Sherman and her All American Husky Abby have volunteered for four years at Redstone Village for patients with Alzheimer’s. “I do a lot of volunteering but doing it with my dog is a bonus,” Stephanie says. “The patients think she’s the best thing this side of the Mississippi. They will tell me about their dogs when they were younger and start bringing up these wonderful memories.” Patricia Haag got her Snoopy-like beagle Madison for her husband who suffers from depression, and now she visits others who are feeling down. “Madison will go right up to people and put her face on them—she has an innate sense,” Patricia says. Another handler, Anne Sentell, also talks about the animals’ extraordinary instincts. She and her goldendoodle Weezy volunteer at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital and Nova Academy for Youth and Family at the Madison County Mental Health Center. “Weezy has a calming effect, a softer approach when dealing with people in need,” she says. “She knows they are sad or depressed and gets so quiet she’s almost not breathing.” Other dogs love working with children. Vicki Kokoskie and her golden retriever Murray participate at the PAL program for second graders who have trouble reading. The students get individual reading time with Murray and Vicki three times a
Above: MariBeth Cline-Morgan works with her dog Koda. Facing page, clockwise, from bottom left to bottom right: Judy Smith and Autumn, Vicki Kokoskie and Murray, Anne Sentell and Weezy, MariBeth Cline-Morgan and Koda, Patricia Haag and Madison, and Margie Weisman (center).
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month. Vicki reads to the children, and then they read to Murray. The students practice their skills, getting a confidence boost. “It’s a trusting environment,” says Margie. “The dogs don’t judge them or correct them.” Judy Smith admits her Shih Tzu Miss Autumn is in it for the attention. “She’s a social butterfly and especially loves attention from kids.” The two volunteer with The Caring House, a bereavement program for children who have lost a loved one. Many of the interactions seem more like playtime than therapy. MariBeth ClineMorgan’s All American Tibetan Mastiff loves to show off his tricks. When MariBeth asks Koda ‘Are you pretty?’ he crosses his front legs in response. It’s a big hit with everyone. Koda and his volunteer buddies are extremely well trained. In fact, before they can participate in the program, they have to complete a rigorous screening process and three levels of training. And their handlers must complete a sixmonth training as well. Then each team must complete the Pet Partners® international registration process.
Stephanie Sherman works with her dog Abby.
AT HOME WITH THEIR OWNERS THEY ARE REGULAR DOGS, BUT AT WORK, THEY ARE COUNSELORS, FRIENDS, AND A LISTENING EAR.
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Remarkably, the program is run almost entirely by volunteers with one, parttime administrator. Margie typically volunteers more than 50 hours per week, helping to train the handlers and their partners and often accompanying them on community visits. The program is funded by revenues from the affiliated obedience school, Kind Hearts Behavior Center, as well as from individual contributions, grants, and fund-raisers. Therapy Partners invites everyone to attend the upcoming Dog Trot 5K and fun run on March 16, and they also encourage people to adopt pets. “There are dogs in shelters today who could be therapy dogs,” Margie says. “As time goes on, we will better understand and appreciate these animals and what they can do.” Adoption could mean not just saving a dog’s life, but saving a person’s life. That’s goodness unleashed.
PHOTOS: Darla Hall, Authentic Photography, 256-651-8479; Liss Sterling, Liss Sterling Photography, 256-520-2167
Baron Bluff at Burritt on the Mountain is the perfect spot for a corporate meeting, business retreat...or a romantic wedding. But Baron Bluff is no ordinary event center: in addition to being the newest and best facility in the region, the views from the mountain are simply spectacular. Come look us over and let us show you how we can help you have an event of a lifetime with a fabulous viewâ€”at Burritt. Now booking for weddings and special events!
www.burrittonthemountain.com 256-536-2882 M ARCH /A PRIL 2013 | NOALAPRESS . COM | 17
Linda Akenhead, Margaret-Anne Crumlish, Susan Todd, Deborah Brown, and Joseph Lee Margaret-Anne Crumlish
Deborah Brown and Joseph Lee
Susan Todd, Linda Akenhead, and Nancy Colin
Ginney McDonald, Susan Todd, and Linda Akenhead
Frances Schwemmer and Jill Martin
Above: 45th Annual Silver Tea DECEMBER 6, 2012 HOME OF KEVIN AND M ARGARETANNE CRUMLISH, MOORESVILLE
The May/June issue of No’Ala is all about the beautiful homes and gardens that our region is known for. This is an issue you won’t want to miss - so visit noalapress.com to subscribe or advertise!
News, classical music and more 88.7 FM Muscle Shoals â€˘ 100.7 FM Huntsville www.apr.org M ARCH /A PRIL 2013 | NOALAPRESS . COM | 19
Thirty-Three Individuals Who Are Making a Difference in Our Communities PORTRAITS BY
CLICK PHOTO DESIGNS BY SARAH BREWER GLASS JAR PHOTOGRAPHY CAROLE FORÊT DAVID HIGGINBOTHAM LESLIE ADAIR PHOTOGRAPHY & DESIGN WHITE R ABBIT STUDIOS PRODUCED BY CLAIRE STEWART
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In every community, there are people who work to make things better, with little thought to personal gain. They do it because they are passionate about their causes or because they have the time and energy; they do it, sometimes, simply because they can. There are hundreds—maybe even thousands—of these people all across North Alabama. We wish we could bring attention to each and every one. Last Fall, No’Ala asked a panel of community leaders to give us their top picks for people they considered the Heart and Soul of the Tennessee Valley. Of the hundred-plus names presented, we narrowed the list to the 33 people featured in this issue. They include young and old, artists and businesspeople, men and women. Some you have certainly heard of; all you will want to know. Without the contributions of these people, our region would be a diﬀerent place; because of their work, we are all richer. It should be noted that the members of the panel who made these decisions, each and every one, could have been featured on these pages. Perhaps next time, when we assemble a new panel, you’ll see some of them. The nice thing about the people who make up the heart and soul of the Valley is that the list is very wide—and their souls are very deep.
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SLOANE BIBB Creative Director and Artist Is there any cause or nonprofit important to you? “I would have to say the need to build more support for the arts in our public schools. The ability to think creatively is critical to a child’s education, and the arts provide a platform where no restrictions are placed on a child's imagination.” Portrait by David Higginbotham
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KATHY CHAN Jewelry Designer What are you most passionate about? “I am very passionate about my work and making people happy.” Portrait by David Higginbotham
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JOSÉ BETANCOURT Photography Professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville What or who is the biggest motivator in your life? “I think my parents instilled in my brother and me an incredible sense for achievement. There is also a sense of pride that is a part of everything we set out to accomplish. As immigrants, I always knew we were in the country to find opportunity and success. So, I guess it’s mainly self-motivation, but I know that every day I want to make my entire family proud.” Portrait by Carole Forêt
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DONALD LEWTER Lewter Hardware Company What are your favorite words to live by? “Choose your life mate carefully. From this one decision will come ninety percent of your happiness or misery!” Portrait by David Higginbotham
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CAMILLIA KING Contract Specialist Is there any cause or nonprofit important to you? “I am so passionate about the AIDS Action Coalition. This organization serves a diverse population of North Alabama and as such, has an extremely diverse database of volunteers. The AAC has been able to develop and sustain several streams of revenue which enables us to increase education and awareness. Serving this organization has enabled me to grow and mature in many ways, and I couldn’t be more humbled to serve alongside a great staff and dedicated volunteers.” Portrait by Leslie Adair Photography & Design
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BOBBY BRADLEY Co-Founder of Village of Promise, Inc. What are you most passionate about? “I am most passionate about my work with the Village of Promise. We have made a long-term commitment that every child in our pipeline will graduate from college. This means a commitment to each student, parent, and to the neighborhood in which they live. I am most excited when I see students excel in a particular area, experience something new, or identify a new dream that excites them.” Portrait by Carole Forêt
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CHRIS WESLEY Software Developer What is your favorite thing about North Alabama? “My inner-geek and inner-artist have respectively fallen in love with North Alabama’s mix of technology and creative outlets, information, education institutions and continued focus toward music and the arts. However, what I’ve really been impressed by, what I’ve come to see as being one of the biggest assets, is the number of amazing people who are willing to give of their time, resources and ideas, to help others. I’ve worked with a few charities and am continually impressed by the quality of people involved.” Portrait by White Rabbit Studios
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SUSAN DAMSON PARK
What is your favorite thing about North Alabama? Susan: ”I love the people, the food, the Southern drawl, Southern hospitality, and historic homes.”
Mother, Grandmother, Wife, Volunteer, and Consultant
What are you most passionate about? Danielle: ”Art feeds the soul. Man has needed it since the caves. When I look at this world through an artist’s eyes I see how amazing our maker surely is. Life is art—there is no division.”
Is there any cause or nonprofit important to you? Butch: ”I admire all nonprofits. And each nonprofit needs volunteers. I am not sure what I would have done for 45+ years without the ones that kept me focused and working. You don’t have time to think about yourself if you stay involved.”
Portrait by Click Photo Designs by Sarah Brewer
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ANA BYRNE Clinical Psychologist and owner of The Little Green Store What is your favorite thing about North Alabama? â€œThe people! Our community is friendly, open-minded, innovative, and striving to make a difference in the world.â€? Portrait by Leslie Adair Photography & Design
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ZACK PENNEY General Manager/ Vice President, Bill Penney Toyota What or who is your biggest motivator in your life? “I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to manage our family business. It’s a motivator knowing that I go to work to serve my family as well as 150 other employees and their families. It feels good knowing that our business can be used as a positive influence to serve our employees, our customers, and the community we live in.” Portrait by Glass Jar Photography
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KATHLEEN DOTTS English Teacher, Huntsville High School Who is the most inspirational person you have ever met? â€œI am inspired by everyday people who endure great grief with grace, great joy with celebration and who live and love every day resistant to despair, accepting the vicissitudes of the economy, politicians, and the perils of life. They make homes, go to their jobs, raise children, volunteer, and worship with no fanfare and yet they are what makes this nation and world worthwhile.â€? Portrait by David Higginbotham
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CAROLE FORÊT Painter and Photographer Is there any cause or nonprofit important to you? “I support the arts here in Athens and in Huntsville. I believe the arts are important in enriching our lives in ways that other aspects of life cannot. That is the motivation I have for teaching art.” Portrait by David Higginbotham
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DIANNE REYNOLDS Retired Educator and Civic Volunteer What are you most passionate about? “I am most passionate about education. I taught school for many years and took pleasure from watching the children’s eyes light up when they ‘got it’ or their excitement when they would get my attention to say, ‘Mrs. Reynolds, I’ve been thinking.’ What magical moments those were.” Portrait by Click Photo Designs by Sarah Brewer
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TASIA MALAKASIS Cheesemaker and Cook at Fromagerie Belle Chevre What are your favorite words to live by? “Fat is flavor, and salt is love.” Portrait by Glass Jar Photography
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HARVEY COTTEN COO at Huntsville Botanical Garden What or who is the biggest motivator in your life? “My parents, because they were always supportive of whatever I wanted to do—never pushing me but encouraging me to do what I wanted and enjoyed while always telling me to do the best that I can in any job that I undertake.” Portrait by Carole Forêt
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SHIRLEY MCCRARY Community Volunteer What is your favorite thing about North Alabama? â€œMy favorite thing about North Alabama is the interesting mix of people from all over the world who have brought their ideas and traditions to Huntsville and blended with our Southern culture to create a vibrant, progressive, yet still very Southern city.â€? Portrait by Leslie Adair Photography & Design
CARLOS AND ASHTON COLON Youth Leader and Logistics Coordinator at The Enrichment Center Group What is your favorite thing about North Alabama? Carlos: “It’s a great, safe place to raise a family. I also met my wife here so I have to give North Alabama some credit there!” What or who is the biggest motivator in your life? Ashton: “The biggest motivator for growth would be following Jesus Christ and striving to become more like Him. My sweet husband personally motivates me to dig deeper more than any other individual, and he does it by his actions.” Portrait by White Rabbit Studios
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JENNIFER SHRADER SWOBODA Business Development Manager for Hagerman & Co. and President of Junior League of Huntsville What or who is the biggest motivator in your life? “To lead by example and show my daughter the importance of giving back to the world around you the way my mother did when I was a child. Volunteering and sharing both your time and talents was the norm in our household. She led by example and was very involved in many aspects of our community. To truly be part of a community you can’t just reside there. You have to get involved.” Portrait by Glass Jar Photography
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TYRONE HARRIS Clinical Exercise Specialist Is there any cause or nonprofit important to you? “One cause that is important to me is childhood obesity. Kids are not as active today as they were in previous generations. With video games and Internet popularity among kids, exercise and physical activity have become less important. Childhood obesity is a cause that’s important to me and I look forward to getting more involved in the future.” Portrait by Click Photo Designs by Sarah Brewer
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ALAN AND DEBRA JENKINS Co-Founders of Merrimack Hall Performing Arts Center What or who is the biggest motivator in your life? “Since starting our own nonprofit organization in 2007, we are motivated by the students in our arts education classes for people with special needs—The Johnny Stallings Arts Program. We are committed to doing anything we can to open doors for people of all ages with special needs.” Portrait by Leslie Adair Photography & Design
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HEATHER CARLTON General Sales Manager, WHNT News 19 What are you most passionate about? “Life! My mom died at age 43. When I turned 43, I asked myself, ‘If this was my last year to live, am I truly living the life I want?’ I am passionate about living the best life I can and making every single moment count. Being the best wife I can be, or the best daughter, or sister, or friend.” Portrait by Click Photo Designs by Sarah Brewer
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DONNA CORBETT Vice President of Communication and Integration, SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation) Mergers & Acquisitions What are your favorite words to live by? “Abraham Lincoln said, ‘Whatever you are, be a good one.’ I try to apply that to my life and believe anything worth doing is worth doing well, whether that is being a good listener, friend, sister, writer, volunteer, or leader. These are words I aspire to live by. We are each a work in progress!” Portrait by White Rabbit Studios
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DORRIE NUTT Musician What are you most passionate about? “Introducing young people to their gifts, showing them how they can fulfill their infinite potential. I really enjoy teaching French horn to all levels, from middle schoolers, to college students, to adults. I love to fan that spark of curiosity into passion!” Portrait by Carole Forêt
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KELLY SCHRIMSHER Director of Communications, Office of the Mayor, City of Huntsville What are your favorite words to live by? “No one ever rose to low expectations.” Portrait by Leslie Adair Photography & Design
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R ACHEL LACKEY Owner/Manager of Green Pea Press— a Printmaker’s Collective at Lowe Mill Is there any cause or nonprofit important to you? “The Women’s Economic Development Council (WEDC) Foundation supports women in our community on the path to economic independence by providing mentors, workshops, and scholarships. Unlike traditional scholarships, the funds can be used for textbooks, childcare, or other needs that may interfere with the scholar’s ability to obtain her degree. As a former WEDC Foundation Scholar myself, I’m excited to be serving on the board of directors this year!” Portrait by White Rabbit Studios
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BUDDY AND MAGGIE LITTLE Retired Circuit Judge and Artist What or who is the biggest motivator in your life? Buddy: “That would be my wife. She’s very good at starting conversations by saying, ‘You know what we oughta do?’” Who is the most inspirational person you have ever met? Maggie: “I think the most inspirational person I ever met was Garrison Keillor. I have had the chance to be around him a little and I’m just stunned at the creative energy that pours out of him, for writing, storytelling, music production—you name it. He is a national treasure and I think will be remembered the way Mark Twain is.” Portrait by Click Photo Designs by Sarah Brewer
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LINDA AKENHEAD Housewife and Community Volunteer Who is the most inspirational person you have ever met? “I have two inspirational people—my parents. During WWII, my mother was a prisoner of war in the Philippines. My father was in the Army in the Pacific Theater and his unit was sent to liberate the POW camp. They met each other in the camp and my father brought her to the United States. My parents did not have the opportunity to go to college. My father had a GED. Both of them believed in hard work, discipline, and opportunities. They made sure that their four children would graduate from not only high school but also college. Three out of the four siblings have advanced degrees. They sacrificed so much, never once complaining, to make sure their children had a better life.” Portrait by White Rabbit Studios
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ASHLEY DINGES Executive Director, Merrimack Performing Arts Center Who is the most inspirational person you have ever met? “Working at Merrimack Hall in 2009, I volunteered with Dance Your Dreams!, a program that provides free weekly dance education classes for children with special needs. On my first day, I met a student named Darby. At that time, she had just started her third round of chemotherapy treatment for leukemia, and her hair had recently fallen out. Darby also has Down Syndrome. Four years later, she is living cancer-free after three separate battles with leukemia. When asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she replied that she wanted to work with sick children. Darby is definitely the most inspirational person I have ever met.” Portrait by Carole Forêt
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market » Claire Stewart » Photos by Danny Mitchell
Beaded Necklace and Earring Set ($27.50) Mint Dress ($52) Uptown Girl (256) 340-7360
Judith March Dress ($99.95) Market House (256) 606-7888
Plum Pretty Sugar Tunic ($70) Finery Bridal Boutique (256) 429-3429
Things we love for Spring Okab FlipFlops ($40) Terramé (256) 319-3003
Hickam Large Platter and Small Dish ($60, $25) Little Green Store (256) 539-9699
Govino Glasses ($12.99/set of four Flutes or wineglasses)—Shatterproof, Reusable, and Recyclable! The Wine Cellar (256) 489-9463
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Beth Solomon Necklace ($700) Beth Soloman Earrings ($550) Little Green Store (256) 539-9699
Jonathan Adler iPhone Covers ($26 each) The Paper Chase (256) 355-8993
Aztec Print Pouf ($245) Brooks and Collier (256) 534-2781
Kendra Scott Statement Earrings ($80) Lolettaâ€™s (256) 489-8889
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Grow Your Own Mushroom Garden Kit ($15) Josie’s at Burritt on the Mountain (256) 536-2882
L’Epicurien Confit and Spreads ($7.99-$11.99) Faux Wood Chargers ($8.99 each) Josie’s at Burritt on the Mountain (256) 536-2882
Crystal Sorrelli Cuff Bracelet ($105) Loletta’s (256) 489-8889
Tile Pillow ($59) Giraffe Pillow ($85) Lattice Overlay Pillow ($85) Glee Interiors (256) 355-4533
Belle Chevre Honey Goat Cheese Kit ($32.30) Harrison Brothers Hardware (256) 536-3631
Assorted Popcorn Varieties (Ranging from $2.50-3.35 per bag)—flavors such as Chocolate Drizzle Bacon and Caramel, Garlic Parmesan, and Fruit Mix Popcorn. Made from corn grown in Huntsville! What’s Popp’N (256) 489-9812
Bourbon Smoked Paprika and Pepper ($11.50 each) Bourbon Smoked Sugar ($16.50) Brooks and Collier (256) 534-2781
Antique Cigar Mold ($145) Harrison Brothers Hardware (256) 536-3631
Five Points Wooden Star ($53) In Bloom (256) 533-3050
Turkish T Towels ($28) Ocean and Seaweed Soap ($5.95) Portobello Home and Gifts (256) 489-9286
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OPI Polishes ($8.50 each) Terramé (256) 319-3003 Kissing Honey ($75) Honeybear ($75) both by Jayne Morgan Kathleen’s (256) 355-7616
Bottle and Brush Painting Class ($30-$40) Artz Studio (256) 489-9463
Yeti 5.2 Gallon Cooler ($199.99) Alabama Outdoors (256) 885-3561
Vera Bradley ‘Plum Crazy’ Fringe Scarf ($38) The Paper Chase (256) 355-8993
Beethovenâ€™s Symphony No. 9 April 20, 2013, 7:30 p.m., Mark C. Smith Concert Hall, VBC Tickets: 256-539-4818 or hso.org
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Chance and Chelsea The Engagement Session
Chelsea Turner & Chance Mitchell
ÂŠ ARMOSA STUDIOS
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All Needz Rentals will provide linens, chairs, and tables for the day of the wedding.
Awaken Productions will provide a photo booth for the wedding reception.
Burritt On the Mountain will provide the beautiful location, set atop Monte Sano Mountain. Their newest addition, Baron Bluff, will be the site of the reception.
Decorous Dishes is giving the couple 200 sets of vintage china to use during the reception.
Armosa Studios is giving our lucky couple engagement photos, bridal photos, and complete wedding day coverage.
Artz Studios will be hosting a complimentary wine and painting class for Chelsea and her bridesmaids.
Belle Fleur and Chef Bruce Roy will provide a selection of delicious food for the reception; their specialty is bridal catering.
Betty Lankford Catering Events is known for delicious wedding catering, and will also provide food for the bridal reception.
Chefs To Go’s private chefs will also contrinbute to the food at the reception; their specialty is gourmet cuisine.
Grogan Jewelers will provide beautiful wedding bands for the couple.
Finery will provide $500 off the bridal gown, $25 off any bridal trim/veil/headpiece, and 15% off any lingerie. They will also give the groom one complimentary Forage bow tie.
Jerry Damson is furnishing a getaway car for the couple after the ceremony.
Huntsville Symphony Orchestra will furnish a professional quartet for the ceremony.
Natalie Faggioni will design the bride’s and bridesmaid’s makeup the day of the wedding.
In Bloom will supply all flowers and floral design for the wedding day.
Jordyn Dean is our wedding stylist and planner. She will help guide the couple during all of their appointments and decisions, and style their engagement shots and wedding day details. Maggie Crisler will design and print the save-the-date cards and will design the invitations.
Signature Smile will supply the KöR Whitening System for the bride and groom as well as Sheer White kits for every bridesmaid and groomsman.
No’Ala is publicizing the event and the wonderful partners who have made it all possible. Look for complete details of the wedding in the July/August 2013 issue of No’Ala. Tastebuds is providing a custom-designed cake for the groom.
What’s for Supper? is providing a selection of fresh, home made items for the reception; they specialize in good Southern cuisine.
Terramé Salon will provide hairstyling for the bride and her bridesmaids.
LOOKING FOR IDEAS FOR YOUR PERFECT WEDDING? Our winning couple will be blogging about their experience as they plan the perfect wedding. Follow them at alabamaperfectwedding.com and get ideas for your wedding, too!
RUTH VON SAURMA HUNTSVILLE’S COUNTESS
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“WHENEVER YOU START WITH PRACTICALLY NOTHING, EACH IMPROVEMENT, AS MODEST AS IT MAY BE, GIVES YOU AN EXHILARATING FEELING OF SUCCESS.” RUTH VON SAURMA
TEXT BY L AURA ANDERS LEE » PHOTOS BY PATRICK HOOD
If you’ve ever had the chance to sit down with a 90 year old, you know they have a lifetime of stories to tell. But you’d be hard-pressed to find another 90 year old with a story as remarkable as Ruth Gräfin von Saurma’s. legant and sharp as ever after all these years, Ruth sits in the living room of her Huntsville home and shares her life’s journeys. Her story is like a thrilling novel, her character complex in its many roles: student, countess, military and POW wife, refugee, mother, immigrant, NASA translator, international relations specialist, widow, grandmother, community volunteer, great-grandmother. She has experienced the darkness of war and the blaze of man’s launch to the moon; the chill of isolation in her homeland and the warmth from strangers in a new country; the turbulence of an uncertain future and the peace of a life well-lived. Her story begins in 1921.
“I was born in Frankfurt and mostly grew up in Berlin,” Ruth began, with a gentle voice and soft European accent. “Berlin was in an exciting time. I was part of the opening Olympic games in Berlin in 1936. They selected a number of students to participate. It was not as elaborate as the opening ceremonies are today, but it was an awesome sight I must say.” Facing page: Ruth von Saurma looks through a scrapbook, ﬁlled with photos and personal notes of adventures.
Ruth had a love for music and languages early on, which were encouraged by her parents who took her along to operas and symphonies. Ruth even attended college, rare for women at the time, where she studied languages. But because it was wartime, classes were abbreviated, and she was required to work. “I was restricted to join a German company that serviced the military and aircraft industry,” Ruth explained. “If you were not married and did not have any children, everyone had to work during the war, so I had to join the company.” In time, Ruth was transferred to the company’s French subsidiary and lived in Paris with a girlfriend. “Paris had been occupied by German troops, but life for everyone was still very fascinating,” Ruth recalled. “Paris was such a charming city; it really was not scary. In fact, we had a very interesting and charming life over there. It was an amusing time and a happy time. I met my husband there in Paris.” Her husband, Count Friedrich von Saurma, was born of nobility to a prominent family and with a love for flying became Lieutenant Colonel in the German Air Force. In 1944, Ruth and Friedrich married in Paris, and Ruth joined him on the northern German coast in Peenemünde, one of the world’s most modern technological facilities,
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Paris, who was now living in the Province of Thuringia in central Germany. “Not knowing if, when, and where we could see each other again, we said a brave, brief farewell to each other,” Ruth recalled. “Accompanied by my husband’s orderly, I boarded an overcrowded train, which already carried a throng of refugees from the eastern provinces of Germany to the west. After endless hours on and off the train with unscheduled stops in the midst of nowhere and exasperating waiting times, we finally reached what I had expected to be a safe abode.” Ruth’s friend, who lived on her mother-in-law’s farm with her six-month-old boy, gladly welcomed her, despite the fact that stiff rations would make having another mouth to feed challenging. Ruth delivered baby Lily 10 days early at a nearby clinic, but with the strain of childbirth and lack of supplies, she developed a severe cold and infection and couldn’t return to the countryside for three weeks. And soon, even Thuringia became too dangerous.
Von Saurma today, and as a young child (inset, right) with her family.
where he was stationed. This would be the first of around a dozen times they would be forced to move over the coming years. Friedrich, with experience in rocket development, was put in charge of testing and development for the V1 ballistic missile. Also stationed at Peenemünde was Wernher von Braun, but the two would not work together until nine years later. The couple spent a happy summer together on Friedrich’s sailboat on the Baltic Sea, and Ruth soon became pregnant. But with the Soviets advancing steadily through eastern Germany, it was evident the area would not be safe for a new baby. Eight months pregnant, Ruth went to stay with her roommate from
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“My husband had orders to leave the Peenemünde area to avoid falling into the hands of the fastapproaching Soviet troops,” said Ruth. “He was assigned to an Air Force installation further west. Aware of the danger that Soviet troops would also occupy Thuringia, he made a very hurried and difficult detour to get baby Lily and me. Avoiding exposure to low-flying enemy fighter planes, we eventually reached our new destination the following day.” They joined Friedrich’s brother, his wife, and their three children at a Protestant Ladies Home. The two families had adjoining rooms, so small that Lily, then six weeks old, slept on a pillow in one of their suitcases. The families made the most of their situation, sharing meals together and even an occasional bottle of wine or liquor, when they were lucky enough to attain one. “It was like living on a volcano that is about to erupt, living on the edge and sometimes even forgetting that this strange interlude would soon come to a bitter end,” Ruth said. Ruth’s premonition was correct. A few weeks later, Friedrich along with the other officers and troops received orders to sur-
render to the Americans. The German Air Force installation was taken over as a prisoner of war camp. Ruth and her sisterin-law were assigned to live in a farmhouse in a desolate area of the country. “One day, I don’t remember exactly when, communications from my husband in the camp came to a complete halt,” Ruth said. “I found out that the British officers had arrived and taken him, his brother, and three members of his staff to an undisclosed location for interrogation. I was terribly worried that the British might impose harsh punishment on all who had been involved in the development of the V1. I was deeply worried and very lonely. The days and weeks passed, I hardly remember how.” On May 9, 1945, Germany signed a peace treaty with Allied Forces, ending the fighting and the bomber attacks. But conditions were still harsh with Stalin’s control over much of Germany. Friedrich remained a prisoner of war but was transferred to another camp, where he was able to contact Ruth. He and his brother were granted permission to work at a nearby Von Saurma with Wernher von Braun
“ACTUALLY I DO NOT DWELL OFTEN ON THE PAST, WHICH HAS ITS GOOD POINTS BUT RATHER DISMAL MEMORIES. I PREFER MAKING PLANS FOR THE COMING WEEKS AND MONTHS AND FOCUSING ON WHAT IS GOING ON TODAY OR TOMORROW.” —RUTH VON SAURMA
radio and electrical appliances shop, and they were even able to rent a room in a house and reunite with their families. “Weeks and months passed, and my husband and his brother started to make great plans to open a radio shop in nearby Eckernföerde, a beautiful small city on the coast of the Baltic Sea. There was no possibility to return to their native Silesia in eastern Germany, nor for us to return to ravaged Berlin, from which my parents had fled after their home had been bombed. Amazingly enough, my husband’s and his brother’s petition to live in the local economy was granted. They simply had to report to the camp once a week.” But while life in Eckernföerde was somewhat better, there were hundreds of unemployed engineers in the area with fierce competition for work. When Friedrich was released as a prisoner of war, they moved again to Frankfurt. The family was separated once again as Lily went to live with Ruth’s parents until Ruth and Friedrich secured jobs, saved money, and found a suitable apartment.
“Whenever you start with practically nothing, each improvement, as modest as it may be, gives you an exhilarating feeling of success,” said Ruth. “There were about 13 million other German refugees like us in the eastern zone who had lost practically everything and had arrived with suitcases like we had. Of course, we realized that it had been our own country and our own people under Hitler’s ruthless dictatorship which were responsible for the innumerable tragedies and awesome cruelties of the war.” For the next few years, they made ends meet. But the economy was bleak. “The chances in Germany were pretty dismal. There was no longer an aircraft industry, and my husband was an enthusiastic pilot. In 1953, when my husband received another job offer from the U.S. Department of Defense, with a chance to live and work under more promising circumstances, we decided to give it a good try.” So the couple boldly moved across the Atlantic Ocean to New York in November of 1953 with their daughter Lily, who was eight years old. When Wernher von Braun learned his old
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RUTH VON SAURMA: HUNTSVILLE’S COUNTESS
“IT WAS A VERY EXCITING TIME. AT THE LAUNCH PAD, THE HUGE SATURN V WAS ILLUMINATED BY A SERIES OF SEARCHLIGHTS FORMING A BRILLIANT STAR AGAINST THE SKY. TO BE ABLE TO LAUNCH SOMETHING TO THE MOON… YOU REALLY CANNOT DESCRIBE THE EXCITEMENT THAT WE HAD. AND THE RELIEF WHEN THE HUGE SATURN V TOOK OFF…IT WAS MIND BOGGLING.” —RUTH VON SAURMA
acquaintance had moved to America, he asked Friedrich to come to Huntsville where von Braun had been working with the U.S. Army to develop ballistic missiles and rockets at Redstone Arsenal. “We met them when we were in New York,” recalled Ruth. “We had dinner with him and his charming wife, Maria. My husband decided then to join the Huntsville team, due to the very contagious enthusiasm von Braun had for rockets for space flight. His brilliant, cheerful, and humorous personality made us decide to go to Huntsville.” The von Saurmas had never heard of Huntsville, much less Alabama, but they felt that if a man like von Braun could live there, they could, too. (Although it is interesting to note that at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin where Ruth attended, the star athlete was North Alabama native Jesse Owens.) “Of course everything was new for us,” Ruth said. “We moved into a small cottage on Monte Sano Boulevard, where many of the German colleagues lived, and later in one of those primitive cottages at the state park. What was great was the feeling that this was a vast country with many opportunities, and that we were able to buy a piece of property and were very soon able to make plans to build a house. We moved into our house in November of 1954. I had tremendous help from American neighbors who were very cordial and welcoming.” Ruth immediately became involved in the Huntsville community. She joined the Garden Club, the German Club, and became board member of the international visitors counsel, arranging visits for foreign travelers. Friedrich loved his work with von Braun, and the whole town was abuzz in conversation regarding rocketry and space flight.
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“The assignment my husband enjoyed most was being the project engineer for the Dinosaur,” Ruth recalled. “Dinosaur was the precursor, so-to-speak, of the space shuttle. It was not just a rocket but a piloted space plane that you could steer yourself. As a former pilot, he didn’t like the idea of just sitting on a rocket. He liked the idea you could control the descent from space.” Friedrich then joined the team of the Saturn Apollo Lunar Program, which replaced the Dinosaur. In January 1958, Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite, launched into space using the Jupiter C rocket that von Braun’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory developed as a response to the Soviet Union’s Sputnik just three months before. With that The von Saurma family: success, von Braun Friedrich, Lily, and Ruth received an avalanche of mail, including congratulatory notes and requests from visitors and journalists. In February, he hired Ruth as a part-time translator and secretary to help answer mail. “I was delighted when I finally got the opportunity to work with von Braun,” Ruth said. “It really was a challenge to work for von Braun and everyone on his team. We were so inspired by the idea that he was doing something that was never done before: getting beyond the atmosphere. Those were the things that kept us enthralled. It really was fascinating.” Besides working together, Ruth and Friedrich spent time with the von Brauns socially. Both men being pilots, the couples often traveled together. In fact, Ruth and Maria even took flying lessons at the request of their husbands, in case they were needed in the air. “One of our favorite flying excursions was down to Fort Morgan and New Orleans, and I remember going to Calloway
Gardens with my husband,” Ruth recalled. “He always said the most dangerous part of flying was driving to the airport.” In 1960 when Lily began attending boarding school in Mississippi, Ruth started working full-time for von Braun. She and her husband even rode together to work. “Von Braun’s mother was intelligent,” said Ruth. “And I always say that a man with an intelligent mother appreciates women who are intelligent.” One day before work, Friedrich wasn’t feeling well and Ruth went on without him. When she called him that morning and he didn’t answer, she drove home at lunch to check on him, and he had died, at the age of 53. Ruth never remarried. “He was just too unusual and unique,” said Ruth. “He’s incomparable.” Ruth continued to work for von Braun, who had become the director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and chief architect for the Saturn V. Over the years, her job evolved to international relations and public information specialist. “On my job, I got a unique insight into the complexity of rocket technology and in particular the vast array of public relations behind the U.S. rocket and space program,” Ruth said. The highlight of Ruth’s career came on July 16, 1969 when the Saturn V propelled Apollo 11 to the moon. Still pitch dark at 5:00 a.m., Ruth climbed onto a helicopter with von Braun and writer Cornelius Ryan to meet a French jet which included U.S.
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RUTH VON SAURMA: HUNTSVILLE’S COUNTESS
Ambassador Sergeant Shriver and French VIPs. The group had breakfast at the airport, where von Braun welcomed the guests with remarks Ruth had prepared for him in French. Then, Ruth escorted the European group to the viewing site. “It was a very exciting time,” she said. “At the launch pad, the huge Saturn V was illuminated by a series of searchlights forming a brilliant star against the sky. To be able to launch something to the moon…you really cannot describe the excitement that we had. And the relief when the huge Saturn V took off…it was mind boggling.” Ruth stayed at the Marshall Space Flight Center and continued to work for von Braun even after he transferred to Alexandria, Virginia. She retired in 1982. “The space shuttle had already flown, and there was no longer the excitement of the Apollo launches and the Skylab launch.” In 1988, Ruth received a Cross of Merit from the Republic of Germany, an honor equivalent to the United Kingdom’s knighthood or France’s Legion of Honor. The General Consul of Germany came to Huntsville to present the award to Ruth. But still she did not slow down. Ruth took classes at the University of Alabama Huntsville to learn more about Alabama history. She bought a Federal-style house in Twickenham, which reminded her of her childhood home in Berlin. After attending Georgetown, Ruth’s daughter Lily moved to Germany, but Ruth decided to stay in Huntsville. Today, she visits her daughter, her granddaughter, and great-grandson twice a year in Munich, and Lily comes to Huntsville twice a year. Ruth has visited Berlin a few times, but it does not feel the same. “Actually I do not dwell often on the past, which has its good points but rather dismal memories,” said Ruth. “I prefer making plans for the coming weeks and months and focusing on what is going on today or tomorrow. I am deeply grateful for my family, friends, and neighbors who have been enriching my life in so many ways.” Ruth is a member of a study circle, antiquarian society, the Huntsville Historic Foundation, and Burritt on the Mountain. Ruth plays bridge every week, attends the Church of the Nativity, and continues to love and support the arts, especially music. She is involved with both the Chamber Music Guild and the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra. And she continues to be in touch with Maria von Braun. Ruth also plans to write down her life story, at the request of her granddaughter. And what a good read that will be. While some have a lifetime of stories, Ruth has the story of a lifetime. People like Ruth von Saurma only come along once in a blue moon.
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© ARMOSA STUDIOS
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Mrs. David H. Culver
Nicole Schroer and Barbie Peek
Junior League of Huntsville Members
Alisha Daniels, Alison Cannon, Mrs. Culver and Courtney Green
Jennifer Swoboda and Nicole Schroer
Above: Huntsville Junior League Heritage Cookbook Release Party DECEMBER 7, 2012 L AWREN’S, HUNTSVILLE
Emily Stone and Jennifer Swoboda
Below: Painted Violin Society Unveiling Party FEBRUARY 7, 2013 SERVIS1ST BANK, HUNTSVILLE Susan Todd and Frances Huﬀman
Kay Eastin and Andy Kattos Jennifer Doss and Allen Tomlinson Cara Greco and Talitha Yokley
Artist Patrick Culpepper PEPPERCOTTON
Paula Renfroe and Joanna Hutchens Paula Renfroe, Beth Wise, and Samantha Bentley
Painted Violin Society and the FREE Family Concert are proudly sponsored by CrescenDough Auction Presenting Sponsor: Violin donated by:
Lu Downey and Jean Wessel Templeton
food for thought » Sarah Gaede
Why Not Bake Your Own Artisan Bread? SEVERAL YEARS AGO, A BAKER IN NEW YORK, JIM LAHEY, CAME UP WITH AN INNOVATIVE WAY TO PRODUCE EUROPEAN-STYLE BREAD AT HOME, using very little yeast, a wet dough, long rising time, and baking in a closed, preheated pot. With the first bite, you are transported to a place where good bread truly is the staff of life. It’s well worth experimenting with—just Google “Jim Lahey no-knead bread.” The drawback to this method is the need to plan 24 hours ahead, including counting backwards for when to begin the various stages (on your fingers, in my case) in order to have the bread appear in all its glory at the exact right moment to dazzle your friends.
I promise this recipe is as foolproof as anything can be, and is so rustic and yummy, especially spread with European-style, higher-fat butter. Wrap
Luckily for those of us who are challenged in the patience and math departments, as well as those who are new to bread baking of any kind, my old cooking teacher, Nathalie Dupree, and her friend, Cynthia Graubert, have come up with a method that is much quicker and produces very good results. The recipe can be found in their new book, Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking, which I was honored to help proofread, and which I highly recommend. (I also recommend their book Southern Biscuits, if for no other recipe than the yogurtcream biscuits.) If you mix up the bread dough after breakfast, you will be set for dinner. I promise this recipe is as foolproof as anything can be and is so rustic and yummy, especially spread with European-style higher-fat butter. (My motto for life: You have to die of something, and at least I’ll be happy. Butter is my best friend.)
Some tips: I use organic Gold Medal or King Arthur all-purpose flour, both of which are available locally. You can substitute one cup of white whole wheat flour for one cup of all-purpose if you are feeling virtuous, but I admit I like the all-white flour version better. I buy SAF instant yeast in a 16-ounce bag from kingarthur.com, since yeast keeps in the refrigerator for a couple of years, and I make a lot of pizza dough. I have had good results baking this bread in a Le Creuset pot and in a pottery casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid. You could even use your mama’s
© SARAH GAEDE
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cornflower Corning Ware casserole. Lodge makes a 6 1/2enameled cast-iron Dutch oven for a fraction of the cost of an equivalent Le Creuset pot. Target sells them for under $55. You can also find good deals on enameled cast-iron pots at TJ Maxx. If you don’t have a Dutch oven, you need to run out and buy one right now, even if you don’t use it for bread. It’s my go-to pot for soups, stews, and pasta sauce. A good one will last you for the rest of your life. Serve this bread with something simple and rustic, like a hearty soup or stew. It’s great for sopping up gravy. I confess I have been known to spread butter on top, and then sop, for a double portion of deliciousness. After all, the bread itself is fat-free.
No-Knead Artisan Bread • • • • •
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour 1 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast 1-1/2 teaspoons salt 1-1/2 cups room-temperature water No-stick cooking spray
Spray the inside of a gallon-size plastic zip bag with cooking spray. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt together in a bowl. Stir in water to barely combine the ingredients. It’s okay if some flour is left behind. Do not knead. Dump the contents of the bowl into the plastic bag, seal the bag, and let sit for about four to eight hours in a warm room (at least 70 degrees) until it looks bubbly. When dough is ready, put a four- to six-quart heavy covered oven-safe pot or casserole in the oven. (The lid is on the pot when you are heating it up.) Turn the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly flour the counter; slide the dough out of the bag onto the floured surface. Gently fold dough in half, and return to the bag. Let dough rest for 30 minutes while the oven is heating. After 30 minutes, armed with oven mitts or heavy potholders and moving quickly and carefully, remove the very hot pot from the oven, set it on the stove top (to protect the counter) and close the oven door. Remove the lid and set it aside. Quickly and gently take the dough out of the bag and set it in the hot pot. Jiggle the pot to center the dough (don’t forget oven mitts!), cover with the lid, and return to the hot oven. Bake 30 minutes; remove lid and bake uncovered another 15 to 30 minutes, until bread is browned and crisp on the outside. If it appears to be browning too quickly, turn the oven down to 400 degrees. The bread is done when the internal temperature reaches 195 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, or it sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pan and cool on a rack. Lather on butter and enjoy. Bread lasts up to four days at room temperature, or may be frozen for up to three months. It makes great toast— with butter and jam! To recrisp crust, heat in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.
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back talk » Claire Stewart
Who is the most inspirational person you have ever met, and why? “Nick Saban. When I met him, he had such a demanding presence. He seems to have an amazing way with engaging people when he speaks.”—Adam Brooks Adam
“My husband and son. Every day they give me unconditional love that I can never thank them enough for.” —Jacqueline Pettus Jacqueline
“Mr. Harvey. He is a police officer that passed away five years ago today. I look up to him for his bravery.” —Jayla Corbin Jayla
“A college professor of mine named Tim Hardy. He always cared for his students and made class enjoyable.” —Jeremy Batey
“My six-year-old daughter. Her words and statements in her few years constantly amaze me and I only have to assume that they are from God.” —Fred Hankey Fred
“My Father. He has always been there for me and made me work to be an amazing husband and father like he is.” —Seth Selvage Seth
“Michelle Obama. She is inspirational in the way she carries herself and the way she supports her husband through thick and thin.” —Mercedes Palmer Mercedes
“Dr. Leslie Barrilleaux, my boss. She makes me aspire to be the best I can be at my job and pushes me beyond what I think I can do.” —Dannielle Martin Dannielle
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back talk » Who is the most inspirational person you have ever met, and why? “My husband. He keeps our whole family grounded and always keeps us motivated even through hard times.” —Lynda Hankey Lynda
“David Cunningham. He is was a great teacher and person to look up to, who always made sure his students had a good foundation when they left school.” —Travis Batey
“My Grandmother. She is a strong and brave woman and I don’t think I have ever heard her complain.” —Kendra Selvage Kendra
“My preacher David Jones. He was the ultimate peacemaker—the most calm and levelheaded person I have ever met.” —Kim Brewer Kim
“Ben Blacknall, my college football coach at Alabama A&M. He was the first person to offer me a scholarship and has always believed in me and pushed me to do my best.” —Tim Tillman
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Your BizHub Watchdog If you’re interested in controlling costs with office equipment solutions for almost any business challenge, call me. We’re the specialists, because we’re the watchdogs. —J.T. Ray
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the vine » Amy Collins
Chablis—Refreshing and Food-Friendly CHABLIS IS ALWAYS CHARDONNAY, BUT CHARDONNAY IS NOT ALWAYS CHABLIS. We’re not talking about the ubiquitous cheap white jug wine out of California that calls itself Chablis (which some of us shamelessly guzzled back in college). Chablis, the original and only, is a region in France, and considered part of Burgundy. Like white Burgundy, Chablis is made from 100% Chardonnay grape. Surprised? Many times over the years I’ve heard customers in restaurants, retail stores and friends in casual conversation declare, “I hate Chardonnay.” And I love to ask, “Do you like Chablis?” The answer has always been yes. Most wine drinkers associate Chardonnay with a California wine, high in alcohol, rich and buttery with vanilla and tropical fruit aromas and a slick, oily taste on the tongue. This is of course a generalization of American Chardonnay, most of which would fall in the inexpensive category. There are several reasons for that flavor profile, primarily involving how the wine is treated in the winery. The story of Chablis, however, is far less technically manipulated, with a focus on what happens in the vineyard, not in the winery. The dry, flinty, fresh style of Chablis is driven by the region’s climate, its soil and the grape itself. This is what we talk about when we talk about terroir.
If you’re a cheese lover with an extra 25 bucks in pocket, try Burgundy’s famous pungent, gooey, eat-itwith-a-spoon Époisses.
You might argue that Chablis is the truest expression of Chardonnay. With long, cold winters and short, hot summers, the area naturally raises grapes with high acidity and lower alcohol levels than the standard California version. The grapes are typically fermented very simply, often without significant manipulation in the winemaking process, including no new oak barrels (though not always) and made instead in stainless steel tanks, which do not affect the flavor of the wine. Chablis is always dry. Growers battle every year with the threat of spring frost, which can kill off new shoots and reduce a crop to little or nothing. Nature’s rule of grape-growing dictates the colder a winter and spring, the higher the acidity of the grapes. Acidity makes a wine feel leaner, more welcoming of food and easier to drink. Acidity gives a wine freshness, which Chablis lovers champion. The other major factor that makes Chablis such an interesting wine is the soil in which it is grown. The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson, M.W., tells us the rock basin under the vineyards is roughly 180 million years old, layered with limestone, clay, and ancient tiny fossilized oyster shells, from way back when Europe was under water and dinosaurs roamed our small earth. Geologists have named this particular soil combination ‘Kimmeridgien.’ Chablis producers and wine experts believe it is the unique elements of the Kimmeridgien which gives Chablis its steely, mineral quality (often called ‘flinty’ or ‘gun flint’), setting it apart from all other Chardonnays.
So now you know why you like Chablis, or why you should try it—great lean acidity that refreshes and makes you want to drink more, an appealing fruit profile of tart green apples that makes you want to eat more, and a dry, mineral touch that doesn’t whack you over the head and make you feel 25 and stupid again (because really, who wants to be 25 again?) Pairing Chablis and food is relatively easy. Because it has great acidity, it welcomes food, and with its tart fruit flavors, it works well alongside creamy dishes with butter or cream-based sauces, like a delicate white fish or sea scallops in beurre blanc, an omelet with fresh herbs and goat cheese, butter braised cucumbers (see Fanny Farmer) with fish, or a simple roast chicken and green vegetable, well buttered, of course. If you’re a cheese lover with an extra 25 bucks in pocket, try Burgundy’s famous pungent, gooey, eat-it-with-a-spoon Époisses. Allow the cheese to warm to near room temperature, carefully chase one spoonful—forget the bread—with a swallow of Chablis, allow total peace and satisfaction to wash over your body, and repeat. When selecting a bottle of Chablis, keep in mind the four basic qualifying tiers: Grand Cru, Premier Cru, Chablis, and PetitChablis, the latter coming from vineyards on the very lowest part of the slope and Grand Cru wines from the highest and best producing part of the area’s sloping vineyards.
Beginner’s Sipper (under $20) Jean-Marc Brocard Bourgogne Chardonnay ‘Kimmeridgien’ 2010—easy on the wallet, easy on the palate, a good introduction to the dry, flinty qualities of Chablis. Knows Just Enough to Make Trouble ($20-$35) Roland Lavantureux Petit Chablis 2009—this producer’s Petit Chablis often outshines his Chablis, depending on vintage, and especially for the money. High Roller’s Cuveé ($50+) Vincent Dauvissat Grand Cru ‘Les Preuses’ or ‘Les Clos’ 2009—considered among the best Chablis money can buy, rare gems, hard to find, and totally worth it.
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parting shot » Leslie Adair Photography & Design
Debra Jenkins and kids from her many children’s programs
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Featuring the "Heart & Soul of the Valley," portraits and thoughts from 33 individuals who are making a difference in Alabama's eastern Vall...
Published on Feb 28, 2013
Featuring the "Heart & Soul of the Valley," portraits and thoughts from 33 individuals who are making a difference in Alabama's eastern Vall...