Grand Plans: Horse Races, Art And Bar Food

Don’t wish away a day of your life. That’s my motto. But I remember winters when I wished away the entire season. Standing knee deep in a front walkway with a shovel, facing the task before me as if I were charged with wrestling a lion, I’d gather my forces and stare resolutely at the snow, letting it know I meant business.

A kinder, gentler, winter this year, but there comes a point in any season when you’re missing the sun, and you begin to wish away days. You think of your Uncle Jim in San Francisco hanging out at a park near the Golden Gate Bridge, or your in-laws in Florida peeling an orange at the beach.

We all secretly yearn for spring. Every April, we’re ready to peel back the layers of cold and solitude and emerge from our slumber ready to really live again.

When does spring arrive for you? Is it the first sign of baseball training, or the first time it’s not dark at dinner? Is it the moment when we change our clocks in March, or is it dressing up for Easter?

The river will “flow again after it was frozen,” Ernest Hemingway wrote of the season in “A Moveable Feast.” But forget the river. The beauty of spring is that more time is spent in light, boosting mood, well-being and energy. The neurotransmitter dopamine increases with light, associated with happiness and pleasure.

I think right now more than ever, it’s time to make grand plans. With winter behind us, and the world in disarray, punching back with grand plans feels like a good way to stand up to whatever ails us or that which we fear. Living well has always been the best revenge. These past four years should remind us of the fragility of life and I think we should forge ahead with a list of old dreams and wishes.

I’ve been leading tours to Peru for many years now. If a grand plan for you is seeing Machu Picchu this summer, please come along on my next tour scheduled for August. It’s such an incredible journey, but unlike climbing Everest, it’s rather easy for the average person to travel there. But the benefits! The beautiful views, the other-worldly ruins, the incredible Andes mountains, the southern sky, and the colorful Peruvian culture–it’s a trip that gives so much more than it asks for. Let me know if you’d like to tag along with me and my group.

Not up for international travel? I’m not sure I blame you. But why haven’t you been to the Albright-Knox Gallery, now reopened as the Buffalo AKG Museum, after a four-year closure? And don’t tell me it’s too stuffy for your tastes. The museum has doubled in size and is full of treasures. The museum’s new addition, the Jeffrey E. Gundlach Building, is a sleek, freestanding structure that “alters the character of the institution but honors its history,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Impressionism and post-Impressionism are well represented at the museum, and we’ve all heard of Monet, Picasso and van Gogh. It’s worth the trip, especially if you stop for a little Buffalo dinner on the way home. Chicken wings, Italian or Greek sound good?

If ancient ruins or art aren’t for you, consider planning a trip to the Taste Of Buffalo this July. Maybe I’m biased, but I love Buffalo food. There’s a mesh of food culture in the city’s melting pot and so you really can’t go wrong attending a festival that brings hundreds of restaurants together on one street. Go for the wings, stay for the gyros.

There’s the Buffalo Cherry Blossom Festival next week, the Gardening Synposium at Chautauqua Institution in May, or the Rochester Lilac Festival, also in May.

And, perhaps most importantly, the Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the American Triple Crown, usually held in Belmont, New York, can’t be held in Belmont because they’re redoing the track. So guess where it’s going to be held this year? At the Saratoga Racetrack in Saratoga Springs near Albany. This is your chance to see a real Triple Crown race in your own backyard. My husband is very excited about this and so we have our tickets already. And what a privilege for the racetrack in Saratoga to be hosting. It has never happened that a race of this magnitude has moved tracks and will likely never happen again.

Next week, we’ll focus on local picks for the upcoming spring and summer. Happy spring, all. Let’s make some grand plans.


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