Happy Veterans Day!

Garrapata Greenery

Here is a personal shout-out to my father and my father-in-law, both of whom our veterans and both of whom are thankfully still with us. Here in Saint Louis the usual Veterans Day festivities are a bit muted this year. Because of Covid, instead of the big annual downtown parade all celebrations are now virtual. Looking forward to the next holiday, we have begun planning our Thanksgiving dinner. Anne remembered an ancient newspaper article, like from 1995. After some searching, she located the rather yellowed newsprint. Hey, she has recipes that are even older than that. Recipes that date back to her college days. This article features a festive feast for two. Perfect! There are only two dishes, two-for-two, a baked onion relish and a smoked turkey, cranberry and barley salad. We’ll likely use these recipes only as a starting point, as something to riff from, but they look like a good start. Plus, we’ll add dessert, a pie, probably pumpkin. We already have the baking pumpkin leftover from Halloween.

The good news about the vaccine this week, has led me to think thoughts about next year. Happy thoughts! In particular thoughts about resuming traveling again next year. We already have Dave and Maren’s wedding in October on the calendar and I’m sure that next summer will see us again going to the cabin. Hopefully, with more people to see there than this last summer. I think that a trip to Europe or really any air travel might be an air-bridge too far at this point, but that still leaves plenty of other possibilities. With the coming of a new vaccine, maybe New York and the New England states will become more welcoming towards us Covid infested Midwesterners? Most of all, I would like to visit California and see my father again. We could revisit out planned itinerary from last summer and do a western road trip out there. I would really like that.


Autumn Grasshopper

We have successfully transitioned from the dog days of August to more halcyon days. Summer’s heat and humidity have left us, hopefully for good and left us with temperate days and cool nights. Sometimes these nights are not so cool that a window or two can be left open. On those nights our city soundscape is filled with the sound of crickets. The hum of airconditioners—crickets. Highway 40’s traffic noise—crickets. The endless loop of thoughts that twirl in my head, before I mange to drift off to sleep—crickets. Locally, nights like these are called good sleeping weather. Anne calls cool nights like these, cabin weather.

Although our 10-day forecast shows this pleasant weather pattern continuing unabated, it cannot go on forever. Today marks the equinox, leading to our eventual fall into cold and darkness, but hey, let’s make merry and light, for who knows what tomorrow may bring? The fable of the grasshopper and the ant is a cautionary tale about adopting this kind of attitude, but apparently this story has a B-side. In this version, instead of praising the ant’s industriousness and decrying the idleness of the grasshopper, the ant is painted as the stingy villain and the grasshopper as the sympathetic hero. Whichever version you choose though, neither of them end all that well for the grasshopper.

Yesterday, Anne and I drove out forty-four to the Shaw Nature Reserve. This place was originally envisioned by the botanical gardens as a refuge from the coal fired pollution that had been plaguing the garden in the city. Improving air conditions alleviated the need for a country nursery and the nature reserve was re-envisioned as an entity of its own. Much larger than the main garden, it offers miles of trails to roam. We had not been there is almost a year. It has been eight months since we’ve even visited the city garden. Being larger and less popular, Shaw seemed like a safer bet. With e-tickets in hand, we checked it out. When we parked, there was only one other car in the main parking lot.

Arriving mid-morning, it wasn’t until the afternoon that we began to see other people. In the morning, it was still quite cool and the crickets and cicada were still relatively mute. Whenever we stopped and the noise of our footsteps fell silent, there was an eerie quiet in the woods. Much of the grounds are devoted to a tall grass prairie, representing what much of this area looked like before it was settled. In this sea of grass the paths are as wide as a car lane, yet still stalks of grass can bow in and touch similar stalks from the other side. The grass is so tall that you cannot see over it, leading to an almost tunnel like effect. Roll to save!

We did see some wildlife. Tons of butterflies and locust would dart out of our way. We heard more often than saw the Red-headed woodpeckers that are indigenous. We saw a deer, but the find of the day was a Yellow-billed cuckoo.