David and I have lived in Huntsville since late December 1996. Other than the 18 months we wound up back in Minneapolis (long story!), the Rocket City has been home.
During a weekend run, I thought of how grateful I am to claim this city as my own. It didn’t take long to come up with my top 10 reasons for loving Huntsville, listed here in no particular order:
- Our native Huntsvillians Our daughters were born here; Serina at Huntsville Hospital and Sophia, at Crestwood.
- The climate Huge after last week’s polar vortex. I complained about Huntsville’s six degrees to my brother-in-law one morning. He texted back with -23 in the Twin Cities. You “win,” Mike!
- The Aldridge Creek Greenway It’s where Zoey and I enjoy our morning walks and runs. It’s also where God speaks to me through dazzling sunrises, rushing “rapids” that follow occasional torrential downpours, or the stillness of a quiet day.
- HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology Located in Cummings Research Park, this is where I get to work! Five years ago, I didn’t know what a genome was. Today I can tell you how my brilliant colleagues at this nonprofit are striving to improve human health and quality of life through genomic research and educational outreach. (And why you may want to consider making a tax-deductible contribution to support the institute’s remarkable efforts.)
- Life lessons Besides a geographical journey to Huntsville, God led me on spiritual journeys in Huntsville, putting people and circumstances in my life that helped me grow. I’ve undergone two major “growth spurts” here, emerging from each with a stronger faith, more empathy, and greater intention.
- St. Mark’s Lutheran Church It took David and me awhile to find our “home” Church. After spending 18 months at Mindekirken in Minneapolis, I longed for a more intimate Church when we returned to Huntsville. We found it at St. Mark’s.
- Size With a population of nearly 200,000, Huntsville is small enough that the mayor knows almost everyone by name, but isn’t related to all of us! Plus, our traffic problems are more like mild headaches compared to major city migraines.
- Mountains They may not be the Colorado Rockies, but God still graced North Alabama with beautiful mountains that complement striking valleys. You’ll find hiking trails, campgrounds and breathtaking views. Monte Sano is just the beginning.
- Eclectic stores and restaurants Huntsville is making progress in this area, with businesses that include, but aren’t limited to, The Little Green Store, the Switch House, Mint Julep, the entire Five Points community, 1892 East and Shea’s Express.
- The people Most are genuinely caring and warm. You’ll recognize a few “born and raised” by their sweet southern dialect. A good percentage of residents, however, are transplants. That’s thanks, in part to Redstone Arsenal, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, and other industry.
Huntsville’s evolved a lot since we got here. Back then, there were no Starbuck’s or Panera coffee shops; no Super Targets; and there was no Bridge Street. Thankfully, though, the city has maintained its remarkably low cost-of-living and still has a good amount of tranquil, undeveloped farmland.
Sure, we have problems like everyone else and struggle with racism, pockets of poverty and other issues, but we have determined people — visionaries — working to make this great place even better.
What? You’ve never been here? Maybe it’s time you visit. After all, the forecast for this sunshiny city is getting brighter every day.