Urban Wildlife

Tower Grove Park Raccoon

We drove to Tower Grove Park, for our daily constitutional. Although, it is forecast to be as warm as yesterday was, a stiff breeze was there to sweep all the sweat away. It was quite pleasant. An urban park, Tower Grove is known for the wide variety of trees that it has, 500 different kinds. Beating the expected heat, we got there early enough that the morning’s shadows were still quite long.

As we walked its tree lined and now carless streets, Anne spied this critter in a stream bed that we were crossing over. As she looked at it, it froze and looked right back at her. This staring contested lasted long enough to get its picture.

Even before the pandemic began, coyotes have always been the alpha predators in town, after us of course. Ruling the night, after we humans have all retired to our homes. The raccoon is the next largest animal that lives among us in our urban environs. No match for a pack of coyotes in a standup fight, the wily raccoon has learned to take advantage of our ubiquitous sewer system that offers them safe refuge at every street corner, along with an alternative transportation network beneath our feet. A combination that allows them to coexist.

Years ago, when I was still working, I used to bicycle in Forest Park each morning before work, even in the dead of winter. One morning, while I was coasting downhill towards the park, I spied a family of about half-a-dozen raccoons sitting up on the curb. It was still full dark out, but I was running with lights, including one attached to my bike helmet. As I sped past them all, I turned my head and the attached light to look at them. They were all looking back at me, with the light casting retro-reflections in all of their eyes. The encounter was over in a second, but we were quite the sight for all of us to see.

I am reminded of a New Yorker cartoon from a little while back. In the cartoon a raccoon is seen standing on its hind two feet, at the top of the stairs of the brownstone where it presumably lives. A food delivery person has arrived and the raccoon instructs the deliveryman to, “Just leave the food in the trash can.”

It was sad when the great ship went down

Under the Sea

Well that didn’t take long. Saturday, we noticed a new sign on the golf course that we had been walking, announcing guidelines for its reopening. On Sunday, at least that park of the links had reopened to golfers and closing it to walkers like us. Today, the rest of the two golf courses are supposed to reopen for golf.

Fortunately, yesterday we didn’t walk, but instead chose to bicycle. We thought that we had gotten out early enough to beat the heat, but it somehow found us, before we could make it back home. The park was crowded and we didn’t stay.

Bicycling is exercise. Golf is not. At least while using a cart. Before they shut the courses to all golfers, the city tried running them without carts. The few golfers that did walk were so few that management decided to just shut it down. 

The covidiots up the block held their lawn party. Strangers in evening attire traipsed by the house all afternoon. Thunderstorms began popping almost as soon as the party began and for a while their luck held out, but eventually the rain rolled in and all of the dolled up ladies left. One of the local media sites has a list of confirmed Covid cases by zip code. We’ve been holding steady at 29 for a while now. I’ll continue to watch it intently over the next couple of weeks. I’ll be looking for signs of new infections close to home.

We only did our short neighborhood walk today. This was not because of issues with humanity, but rather the twin issues of heat and humidity. It looks like we’ll get rain again this afternoon and every other day this week. As Anne tells me, it will be a good week for the lawn, which is already showing signs of needing to be mowed again and it hasn’t even been a week.