The Vulcan is in a good mood tonight. He stands watch over Birmingham. The largest cast-iron statue in the world.
He is suspended 124 feet above the world. His right arm is outstretched, holding a spear. He wears a blacksmith’s apron. Roman sandals. And his butt is showing.
My wife and I showed up at Vulcan Park and Museum a few minutes before sundown. I bought a few tickets from the ticket booth. The cashier was a girl in a Troy University sweatshirt.
“Y’all new in town?” she asked.
“Moved here five months ago,” said I.
She gave me the tickets.
“Well, it’s nice to have you to Birmingham.”
My wife and I ascended the stone staircase toward the enormous tower. Atop the tower stands the statue. The Vulcan was built in 1904 by an Italian sculptor Giussepe Moretti. It’s a work of high art.
Every day I drive on the freeway I see the Vulcan, perched high in the distance, standing above the earth. He reminds me that I live in Birmingham now.
This town is my new home.
Which I keep forgetting. Namely, because I am a Florida man. I did my growing up two miles from the Gulf of Mexico, one mile from the Choctawhatchee Bay. My people ate raw oysters non-ironically. We had no basements. No fireplaces. Only sand spurs, yellow flies and doublewides.
But now I live here. A city of 210,000 with a metro area that brings it to roughly 1.2 million people. This town has it all. The Appalachians, museums, blues, jazz, soul, barbecue, unlimited breweries, and the unique transcendental torment that is Highway 280.
Before we ascended the tower, I showed the guard my ticket. He glanced at it and said, “New in town?”
I told him I was.
He tipped his hat. “It’s nice to have you in Birmingham.”
There are 159 steps leading to the top of the Vulcan tower.…