Less than a half-mile from the shopping district is the foot of Fairhope Avenue. Here, where, the town meets the bay, is the town park.
I parked in the hundred-yard-wide circle at the foot of Fairhope Avenue.
At the center of the circle is a thumping fountain, bold by day and bolder by night.
The fountain hosts the rose gardens, which still hang on to a bit of color even now in the early days of December. The gardens are separated by paths of grass so well manicured they could do duty as putting greens.
The ten-mile-wide bay was smooth and flat as a skating rink. At the horizon, the thin gray tear between the water and sky was all you could see of the distant shore. Except, that is, a dozen miles to the north, where downtown Mobile’s spires spiked into the sky.
I strolled to the end of the 1500-foot fishing pier. I noticed the space on the backs of the frequent benches is not wasted. Carved into the lumber are the names of people along with nods and epitaphs, both solemn and light.
“Enjoy the pelicans, sunset and our elevators.”
“Married May 18, 1942, a Fairhope love story.”
“For God’ Gravy-maker. It’s not the food in your life, it is the life in your food that counts.”
“They loved their walks on the pier.
“Thanks for happy days on Mobile Bay.
“The good life since 1990.”
“May you enjoy this pier and Fairhope as he did.”
“In memory of The Tuba Man.”
“In memory of a fisherman.”
“Upon this beach we walked, but together we shall walk again once more.”
The park seemed a good place to hang out on a mild Saturday. A dozen cars rotated into and out of the parking spaces. I watched the fisherman, joggers, power-walkers and skate-boarders. As the afternoon wore on, I decided to drive along the beach, where found more pleasant homes, motels, and small townhouse developments and discovered the Grand Hotel, which I noted for a return visit.
Fairhope has several modest condo developments, and one huge one: 234 units devoted to the population of Purple Martins.
Returning from my exploration, intent on foraging for a nondescript place to spend the night, I again passed by the municipal waterfront. I noticed there was more traffic toward the waterfront than away. So I reentered the circle and drove around to the southern arc, where I saw the sky erupting into a flaming sunset.
I parked and approached a lone woman holding her cell phone toward the sky’s canvas.
“Is it like this every night?” I asked.
“Not every night, but often, and it is different every night. I come every night.” She held her cell phone toward me and proceeded to scan through scores of pictures from the phone’s memory.
Cars continued to arrive and leave. Dogs were walked, fisherman cast their lines, people sat on benches and stared across the bay that was beginning to dot with lights in the oncoming dusk.
Next blog: Fairhope’s Park by Night