It’s spring into summer along the Gulf Coast

When you think of seasons and places to be, some natural alignments spring to mind. There’s winter and ski slopes.

There’s fall and the changing of the leaves. Then there are spring and summer and America’s Gulf Coast.

Because most of our landscaping does not lose luster in the mild winters we experience, most everywhere around here remains green throughout the year, which means our spring is doubly spectacular as buds and blooms open to a warming sun.

The beach scene, renowned in legend and song, perks up, with eager travelers heading to the white sands that give way to an inviting Gulf. Festivals are staged in every corner of our world, and the happy circumstances of longer days coupled with starlit nights mean a resurgence of fresh seafood and fresh-grown vegetables on dining tables at home and in restaurants.

Bring on those lazy, hazy days of the season, when we grab the folding chairs; the cooler filled with ice and beverages of choice; and find friends, frivolity and freedom. No office can confine our spirit, no apartment our wanderlust.

The Gulf Coast from the Sabine River over to north-central Florida becomes our backyard, begging us to travel its length and meet our neighbors.

In this issue of Gulf Coast Wine + Dine, we’ll guide you through some fabulous experiences, starting with the story of a community on the rebound, Panama City, Fla. Lori Hutzler Eckert tell us that a major new airport is opening here, the first in the U.S. since the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the residents have plotted a new course of development for this area, taking full advantage of a spectacular setting between the Gulf and several bays named for compass points, North, West and East.

John Felsher, our inveterate outdoorsman, delivers one amazing fish tale. Yes, I’m sure he has plenty of those, too, but this one is about the reds, red snapper and redfish. Tying into that, and going a bit further, is the report by Brenda Maitland, building excitement for what appears on restaurant menus, fresh from the boat that very day.

We’ll catch you up (sorry, I could not resist the fish pun) on the latest for suitable beverages to accompany your dining experience, Pinot Grigio, as well as relate to you the tale (oops, I did it again) of tequila. This fascinating and versatile spirit is a favorite of mixologists throughout the Gulf Coast region and beyond.

And we’ll tell you where you should go to fully enjoy the parties that are staged by organizations and communities that know the meaning of a good time.

It’s spring into summer along the Gulf Coast. Get out, and enjoy yourself.

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