Live Your [Oak Cliff] Life


These types of resolutions are what the New Year is all about, right? Or maybe we have the wrong idea. Every day we awaken, each breath we inhale is another chance to live. Sometimes we worry so much about all the things we need to change about ourselves that we forget to simply enjoy the life we’ve been given.

Take time this year to experience something that intrigues you on the next few pages. Most people have probably heard the saying, “You’ve never lived until you’ve …” We’ve taken that concept and added a neighborhood twist.

 “You’ve never really experienced Oak Cliff until you’ve …”

… claimed a piece of curb for the Cinco de Mayo parade on Jefferson.
It’s a whirlwind of blaring brass instruments from high school marching bands, dignitaries waving from classic cars, and crepe streamers fluttering in the breeze as the floats make their way down the boulevard. The holiday commemorates the Mexican army’s victory against the French in 1862, and this celebration highlights the local Mexican community.

 … celebrated Earth Day at Lake Cliff Park.
It’s a Saturday chock full of festivities to honor Mother Nature, and where better than Lake Cliff? It seems as if the entire neighborhood turns out for the event, and in respect for the planet, most neighbors walk, jog, cycle, skate or carpool to the park. Don’t miss out — mark your calendar for April 19. oakcliffearthday.com

 … walked to the Bishop Arts District from your house.
That is, if you live in one of the nearby neighborhoods. It’s environmentally friendly; it’s good for your health; and it beats the heck out of trying to find a parking spot during the busy lunch and dinner hours. Plus, who knows? Maybe you’ll find another neighborhood gem along the way, like Eddie’s Audio and Video on Davis between Cedar Hill and Woodlawn. Did you know the store can turn your home movies into DVDs?

 … stood atop the Trinity River levees and imagined what it could become.
It just so happens that the most recent addition in the Trinity River Corridor Project provides the perfect spot to do this. The Trinity Overlook at Beckley and Commerce invites people to watch construction of the signature Calatrava bridges — the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge to the north and the I-30 bridge to the south. Signage explains the project in its entirety, as well as its timeline, and binoculars allow a closer look. Grab a latte or take a lunch, and rest under the canopy on the concrete steps. (Or, if you need a better view, climb them to get some extra height.) To get to the overlook, take Beckley north, veer right on the ramp toward the Commerce Street bridge heading downtown, and park on the side of the street. trinityrivercorridor.com

 … sipped high tea with your pinky raised at Turner House.
Surely Mrs. J.P. Blake and subsequent mistresses of the circa 1912 house indulged in this pastime, and perhaps the fine women who founded the Oak Cliff Society of Fine Arts sipped tea during their dignified meetings once the house was turned over to the society in 1957. The most recent high tea party was last spring, in honor of Winnetka Heights’ centennial celebration. Rumor has it the party was such a hit, there may be a sequel. turnerhouse.org

… snooped around your neighbors’ houses during the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League Fall Home Tour.
It’s like a Sunday afternoon of visiting open houses, except you don’t have to pretend that you’re actually interested in buying anything. This tour provides the chance to peek around a dozen or more homes all over Oak Cliff, and it’s a safe bet that at least one or two will be properties you’ve driven by and thought, “I wonder what the story is behind that house?” Buy your ticket and find out. ooccl.com

 … taken in the view at Top O’ The Cliff.
The private club that for decades occupied the penthouse of Oak Cliff Tower on Zang and 12th no longer exists. In its place, chef Doug Brown (currently of Sala Tex Mex in South Side on Lamar, and formerly of Nana and Amuse) has re-created the 15th floor space into the Orion Ballroom, which can be booked for weddings, private parties and corporate events. Brand new look, same 360-degree views of the Dallas skyline. theorionballroom.com

 … played a round at the Stevens Park Golf Course.
No membership fee is required to play at this City of Dallas public course, and green fees are only $21 on the weekends, $16 on weekdays, and $11 anytime if you purchase an eight for $88 frequent play punch card. Or, if you’re not a golfer, at least run or walk the trails. The park is open from 5 a.m. until midnight, and except for the hours between daylight and dark when the carts take over, it’s wide open to people who don’t know how to swing a club but can appreciate the beautifully landscaped hills. (Don’t forget to bring along your dog.) stevensparkgolf.com

 … meandered along a Coombs Creek trail after a heavy rain.
That’s when water rushes through the creek, which is part of the city’s flood protection system. One path with great views of the creek can be accessed by driving west on Kiest past Westmoreland, and turning right onto Coombs Creek Drive. The sidewalk entrance at Kiest Valley Parkway continues all the way down the street, and the path has a few bricked-in “scenic overlooks” to enjoy the view.

 … caught a classic film at the Texas Theatre.
Some residents of the Cliff can remember attending the cinema as long ago as the 1930s, when the classics were the new releases. The Oak Cliff Foundation is working to restore the theater to its former glory, and in the meantime, is raising money by showing old favorites in the Jefferson Boulevard relic, like “Bonnie and Clyde” for this year’s 75th anniversary of the duo’s deaths. oakclifffoundation.org

… commemora
ted the beginning of summer at Aunt Stelle’s Sno-Cone stand.
Summer 2009 officially starts Saturday, April 25. Sure, the actual summer solstice is June 21, but for anyone living in the Cliff, it’s not the longest day of sunlight that indicates the beginning of the heat wave — it’s the prospect of fruity syrup drizzled over shaved ice, handed across the window at Aunt Stelle’s.

 … circled the labyrinth at Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff.
Other than a small opening toward Kiest Boulevard, the labyrinth is completely surrounded by nature. Pull into the church parking lot any time of the day, and follow the signs to the circular maze, 44 feet in diameter, with the path laid out by rocks and shells. A footprinted stone on the east marks the start of the path; here, explains the church’s website, “is the place to pause, to wait, to think or empty out your thoughts. Then step within and let the pathway guide your feet while your mind is elsewhere occupied. There is no must or should, as your experience will be unique.” The meditative walk takes roughly 20 minutes — a good way to spend part of a lunch hour, or to end a particularly stressful day. oakcliffuu.com

 … looked out over the panoramic landscape from the Kidd Springs Recreation Center lake room.
The three-sided floor-to-ceiling windows provide a fantastic view of the park’s foliage and its pond (sporting a new fountain). After school hours, families can be spotted carrying bags of bread to tempt the ducks, which swim quickly to the edge, quacking, whenever morsels are tossed out. To enjoy a serene view of the pond, attend one of Church in the Cliff’s Sunday morning services at 11 a.m., which take place in the lake room.

 … ridden a piece of cardboard down one of Kidd Springs Park’s hills on a snowy day.
Or a trash can lid, or some other makeshift sled. It’s safe to assume that neighborhood residents don’t keep a Red Rider in their garages for the maybe one day of the year that it snows (and quickly turns into slush, if it sticks at all). But if snowflakes do start to fall, and enough of them collect on the ground, grab your cardboard and head to Kidd Springs. (Watch those trees on your way down.)

… ordered tacos de fajitas from the walk-up window at Jerry’s Supermarket on Jefferson.
When you walk up to the counter and the screen door slides open, the first question asked is, “Cuantos quieres?” (How many do you want?) There’s no need to ask what you want because there’s only one option: beef fajita tacos garnished with pico de gallo, each for $1.35. Tres or cuatro is enough for the average appetite; maybe cinco or seis if you’re pretty hungry. The next and last question is, “Con maíz o harina?” (With corn or flour?) Those are the tortilla options, and if you choose maíz, the tacos are double wrapped. The piping hot tacos are placed into a cardboard boat and wrapped in foil, in case you aren’t planning to eat them immediately. Bring cash, and one note of caution — the pico is generous with its jalapeños.

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