After Surreal Year, ‘Promise of Spring’ Has Never Been More Important

ABOUT THIS TIME last year, I had recently returned from an overseas trip to the Promised Land of Israel — the last time, by the way, I boarded a commercial airline to this day.


Within days of the return, I have such vivid memories of frantically running around town trying to stock my bathrooms with rolls of toilet paper and my pantry with food staples that would last through an apocalypse. Life as we knew it had changed. It gives me goose bumps when I ponder that spring of 2020, one long year ago.

It was a surreal time in our lives. Frightening, unnerving, and sometimes dark. Time stood still. Every new day seemed like the day before, and the day before, and so on, and so on. Spring turned to summer, summer to fall, then fall to winter — with the hopes of the dawning of a new day when January 2121 rolled around, only to find that the universe was not quite ready to return to the way it once was. We had a little more turmoil in store for us.

But early this morning as I practiced my morning yoga outside in my back yard, I was acutely aware of my surroundings. And as I gazed out into the copper and umber colors of the dead plants the recent freeze left behind, I saw tiny bright green leaves beginning to decorate the tips of the blistered tree branches. I actually had to blink my eyes to gain perfect focus, making sure it wasn't a mirage. Once I confirmed the green leaf blossoms were real, I immediately started hearing the happy birds singing their symphony. They were there all along, but it had taken me a few minutes to recognize their songs.

Spring is here, my friends. And the promise of springtime rebirth has never been more meaningful than at this very moment. We have an opportunity for a renewed existence, a new way to get back into our old habits and ways of living, only better. And it feels so good.

Despite one full year of hardships, so many have remained positive, optimistic and altruistic. It is with these attributes that we should leap into spring as we kick Covid, politics and crazy winter weather to the curb. We are reborn! Let's celebrate — mask-free, if you choose!

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SOUTH FLORIDA-BASED Italian shoe line Concetto Limone will make its Texas debut at a cocktail reception at Valobra Master Jewelers (2150 Westheimer Rd.) on Thursday, April 29 from 5-7pm. The evening of "All Things Italian" will transport guests immediately to the coast of southern Italian as they sip on Italian wines, Aperol Spritzes, Negronis and Limoncellos while feasting on an assortment of Italian hors d'oeuvres from Houston's beloved Tony's. Invited guests will have the first glance in Texas on the Concetto Limone line and the opportunity to purchase unisex styles on Thursday evening and all day Friday at a trunk show at Valobra.

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Pastries at Cafe Leonelli

CAFE LEONELLI IS now open inside the MFAH's Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, the stunning new wing that first opened in November.

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Abbie Preston Edmonson gives a special presentation this weekend

DESPITE SOME APRIL showers, there's still plenty of fun to be had! From art-centric and Earth Day activities to family-friendly fests, check out a rundown of the weekend's best bets.

LEARN FROM AN ARTIST Tune in tonight for an hour-long talk by ceramicist and Houston Center for Contemporary Craft resident artist Abbie Preston Edmonson about her creative process. She'll give a virtual presentation about her work and a special demonstration in her studio space.

Brennen's exec chef Joey Chavez (photo by Kimberly Park)

TAKE A VIRTUAL PAINTING LESSON OR COOKING CLASS Be inspired by the great state of Texas during a virtual painting lesson hosted by Honey Art Cafe on Friday night. For only $20, stream a two-hour virtual lesson and make a series of stylized mini paintings inspired by West Texas and Big Bend National Park. Honey Art Cafe also has supply kits available for purchase for beginners or artists low on supplies.

And if painting isn't quite your speed, see what you can cook up in the kitchen! Brennen's exec chef Joey Chavez leads a "date night" cooking lesson for couples on Friday at 6:30pm. Hosted at the restaurant, the socially distanced demonstration, which costs $150, includes a reception, followed by an interactive demonstration and seated dinner.

CELEBRATE EARTH DAY! Join the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center from 10am-4pm on Saturday for a fun- and information-filled day! Explore informative booths, nature hikes, fun displays in the Discovery Room, and Earth-friendly take-home activities. Or join Discovery Green on Sunday from 12-5pm, when the park will screen a series of short films about Houston's environment, host a panel about February's freeze, and showcase a live painting demo by local artists working on murals to decorate the park.

GO ON AN OUT-OF-THIS WORLD ADVENTURE Fifty-one years ago, the Apollo 13 crew splashed down safely back on Earth after their famously harrowing mission to the moon and back. Space Center Houston is celebrating that anniversary on Saturday, hosting two livestreamed panel discussions with current NASA experts as well as Apollo-era legends.And now through May 2, local NASA and Apollo 13 fans can check out the center's new spring exhibition, titled "Apollo: When We Went to the Moon," that looks at the legacy of the Apollo era through the lens of the engineers and astronauts who actually lived the experience.

FIND FUN AT THE INTERNATIONAL KIDS FEST Traders Village hosts Kids Fest on Sunday, with games, activities, interactive shows, live music, acrobats, magicians, clowns and more. Parking is $5, but the event itself is free, sure to keep the whole family entertained from 12-4pm.

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