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.

Palmer’s Penstemon

Palmer’s Penstemon

We walked in Forest Park. At noon, it was already warming up. As the summer arrives, we’ll have to start getting out earlier than this. We drove to the edge of the park, walked across Skinker, and braved a dual path crossing, with their many runners, walkers and cyclists. Then we were on the golf course, with its wide open fairways, empty greens and unused tees, but this won’t last long.

On the way back, I first spied a golf cart on the links. It wasn’t one of the rentals, but rather a maintenance one. Later, along one of the cart trails there was a new yard sign. It hadn’t been there before, when we had first passed this way. On it were the new rules that will govern the course’s reopening. One person per cart, people one outstretched club apart, at all times, two strikes and you are out.

There goes the neighborhood. No word on when the golf course will reopen, but it will be soon and with its reopening gone will be its wide open spaces, at least for us. Other attractions are also moving to reopen. The largest draw in the park, the zoo has announced its plans. It will still be free as always, but it is going to institute a reservation system, to keep the crowds down. When the zoo reopens, I suspect that the closed roads that lead to it will reopen. When that happens, there will go the second half of our safely socially distant walking regimen. I imagine that the museums will follow suit and everything will be back to where it was before all of this began, except that the virus will still be present.

Trending on Twitter this morning was a short movie of a massive pool party at the Lake of the Ozarks, in mid-Missouri. The venue was packed with wall-to-wall covidiots, partying like there is no tomorrow. Closer to home, just up the block, preparations for a party were also underway yesterday, for a party today. Two guys, who always throw the most elaborate looking of yard parties, are not going to let a little pandemic get in their way this year either. They worked all day putting up their decorations. This year’s theme is “Under the Sea.” I even wangled an invite, much to Anne’s horror. We won’t be attending, but I might attempt a drive by, just to witness the bacchanalia from afar. I can already hear the crashing sound of the second wave all around me. 

Horology

Richard Mille Clock in Quebec City

Blog Log, Day… Honestly, who’s keeping track anymore? All the days have run together and become like a blur. I think that it is still May. It must be Saturday, because I made avocado toast for breakfast and I always do that on Saturday. Except, I sometimes make it at other times too and the avocados did need to be used. No, it definitely must be Saturday. Back at the beginning, when we all first started self-isolating, it was easy to count the days. You could even do it on one hand, but that seems so long ago now. What month was that that we began to hide ourselves? I think that it was March. Or was it April? I can’t remember.

Time weighs more heavily on some than on others. I now enjoy a pleasant, if somewhat detached existence. Instead of planning out life, I live day-to-day. I am content to simply plan out the day. It wasn’t always like this. I can still remember when I used to carefully plan elaborate campaigns that were so complex that they would need a spreadsheet to keep track of. In the future, when we look back upon this time, what will we remember? Other than the incessant handwashing. Will we remember the loneliness?

Yesterday, our back fence neighbors held a little lawn party. It was small, just another couple and the couple that lives there. Still, I was jealous of their bit of comradery. I first noticed them, while I was fixing dinner. I had the kitchen door open and the view out that door afforded me a clear line-of-sight into the going ons across the fence. After dinner, while I was doing the dishes, I could still hear them talking and laughing together. They were still at it until well after dark.

We walk almost every day. It is more like a promenade, in that in addition to the exercise, we go out to see and be seen. The other day, we explored a new locale for our stroll. We went to Tillis park. I had a prescription to pick up at a nearby Walgreens. One that had a drive up window. I had tried to get the drugs delivered, but they require refrigeration, so the pharmacy wouldn’t do it. When the boys were young, Tillis is where we used to take them for summer day camp. I don’t think that they much liked that camp, because they were always so glad when we showed up to take them home. There was no air conditioning there and it could get awfully hot during the summer. It hasn’t got warm yet this year and with all of the rain that we have had, for the first time I noticed how many sinkholes are in this park. In the summer, they are just dry depressions, but now everyone of them has a pond at its bottom and quite a few of them have geese too. Once around the parkour was more than enough for us.

This has been kind of a rambling blog post. Lots of words without much to say. I could claim that this is the new normal, but that would be a lie. I used to churn out similar dribble back before the pandemic. Maybe something will happen tomorrow? Then again, maybe not. Stay tuned. Such are the days of our lives.

Da Vinci

The practice of quarantine, first began during the 14th century in an effort to protect coastal cities from the plague. Ships arriving from infected ports, really any port, were required to sit at anchor for forty days before being allowed to land. The word quarantine, was derived from the Italian words quaranta giorni which mean forty days. That’s a lot longer time to wait than the two-weeks we are now asked to endure in quarantine due to the corona virus.

Just before we entered into quarantine and the rest of the world also locked itself down, we visited the Saint Louis Science Center. The featured exhibit there was on Leonardo Da Vinci. This traveling exhibit had visited Saint Louis before and we happened upon it then, quite by accident, when we had been bicycling around the downtown one day. Then it was on display in the lobby of a bank building. There was only one guy running it and we were its only visitors at the time. I think that this show is better suited to that venue and is not worthy of the science center. It is a history exhibit without any artifacts. Every single one of the items on display are replicas. Actually, they are even less than that. Most of these items that were supposedly invented by Da Vinci, were really only just sketched by him. From these drawings the purveyors of this show have gone on to fashion their interpretation of what they would look like in real life. I was so unimpressed by this exhibit that I have not bothered to write about it until now, but since we are still under quarantine and not much else is happening, news of it has finally bubbled to the surface. I guess that it is just a slow news day.