Shaw Nature Reserve

Pinetum Lake Tamaracks

Yesterday, we drove west along the Henry Shaw Ozark Corridor, also-known-as I-44, to the Shaw Nature Reserve, for a walk in the country. Part of the Missouri Botanical Gardens, this land was acquired in the early 20th-century, when air pollution in Saint Louis from burning coal threatened the garden’s collection of plants. It was a cold, grey day, but bundled up we kept warm, mostly. At least the chill served to keep us moving. I had packed a lunch, but it was too cold to even contemplate stopping to eat. As you can see, there were fall colors, but compared with past years, they are still quite muted. I don’t know if the colors will develop further or if our recent spate of dry weather is the real culprit.

In all of the creeks and wetlands the water was way down or even nonexistent. Surprisingly though, the foliage did not seem to have suffered much from drought. It was not very crowded and we saw only a few other visitors during our rambles. If not for the quite audible roar of the adjacent highway, our commune with nature would have left us almost completely alone. On our way home, we stopped at a gas station for hot chocolate and coffee. That and the car’s heater served to warm our chilled bones. Below is a similar shot from late November, 2014 that is still our computer’s wallpaper. It was taken at the magic hour, on what was a much more sunny day.

Autumn Colors Redux – More Reflected Tamaracks


Early ACA Shopping

Late Shoppers – Honey and Bumble bee

We are expecting our first frost this weekend and in preparation for this event, I lowered all of the storm windows and then I headed over to the gardens to catch the last breath of summer. It was a wee bit chilly. Earlier, I had discovered that the Obamacare website has gone live with the 2018 plans and pricing. You can only window shop now. You’ll have to wait until next week to actually sign up for a plan. In Saint Louis, there are two health insurance providers on the ACA exchange, which is better than I had expected. I thought that there would only be one. They offer a total of ten plans, 3 bronze, 5 silver and 2 gold. We are old and we make too much money for tax credits, making our monthly premiums rather expensive, like in the $1,000s. I left the Obamacare website feeling despondent. 

On the way over to the garden I caught a local NPR talk show that was covering this very subject. The expert confirmed my worse fears, but also corrected some of my misconceptions. She explained that all of the sabotage that Trump, et. al. has been committing this year has caused Saint Louis premiums to jump 50% for next year. Thank you very much, Assholes! She also said that the states have stepped into the void left by the Republicans in Washington. She counseled shopping around. There may be better deals outside the exchanges. I dabbled in this and have been inundated with solicitations since. It feels like the wild west out there. We’ve been on COBRA since I retired. It is expensive too, but it is ending. I knew that this storm was coming. Now it is time to face it. When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping, this time for healthcare insurance. 

Water Lily and Bee

Yellow Water Lily and Honey Bee

The weather has been perfect here these last few days. We’ve enjoyed idyllic weather that would have been perfect for bicycling, except that I haven’t been biking. I’m taking advantage of this fine weather to get some outdoor painting done instead. I’ll finish the front living room windows tomorrow and then start on the driveway side windows. These windows should keep me busy outside likely until it gets too cold for outdoor painting. When that happens, I’ll just move the show inside. there is plenty of work to do there too. Anne had today off, but spent the day working on the computer preparing lesson plans.

On Wednesday, we attended the first session of the season of Science on Tap. Joanie drove us and Pat and Vicki were there too. We got to regale everyone with our summer travels and also fête Joanie for her birthday. This lecture series involves Washington University professors and beer. Let’s not forget the beer. This month’s talk was delivered by Carlos A. Botero, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor of Biology and was entitled, “How Animals (including humans) Respond to Climate Change – Lessons learned from ecology and evolutionary biology”. His statistics supercharged research primarily deals with birds and concludes that birds with bigger brains do better adjusting to climate change. I didn’t really get the whole human aspect of his lecture, especially his digression into moralizing high gods. Maybe he was just playing to the cheap seats. Overall I found this talk to be rather meh, but next month’s talk about the dark side of the moon has me salivating.