It was chilly, but we got out. Tis the season—for eagle watching. A polar vortex swept into town, but we still got out and around. Eagle Days was being celebrated on the Chain of Rocks Bridge and really everywhere on the river. We saw three eagles and two eagle nests, confirming that Saint Louis is a great place to raise a family. More importantly, we got to hang out with some other birders and naturalists. We enjoyed their heated tents too.
I’m a sucker for the MSN slide shows that constantly appear on our home page. I especially enjoy their 50 states best of shows. Like what is the best restaurant, hotel or town in each state. It just so happened that that morning’s survey was all about the 50 best bridges. You guessed it, Missouri’s best bridge was the Chain of Rocks, beating out the much older Eads Bridge. Technically now, it’s the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, the new one is a half mile further north and is part of I-270. Built in 1935, it was how Route 66 crossed the Mississippi River.
It is now a pedestrian bridge. We walked its one-mile length to Illinois. The bridge now seems too narrow to support two lanes of traffic, but cars were smaller back then. I can only imagine the terror of crossing it at night. It was not very well-lit, so as not to blind river barge wheelmen. That plus its distinct mid-span kink, must have made for an interesting crossing. The bridge gets its name from a natural feature in the river, just downstream from the bridge. A chain of rocks spans the river, making it navigable only in high water. In very low water, the river can be crossed via these rocks. A canal now bypasses this feature.
Afterwards, we swung by Winslow’s Home for a late lunch. We ended up closing the place, which wasn’t as hard as you might think. It closed at three. Last time we were here, we were taking Dan to the airport and then we had a show to see later. This time we didn’t want to feel rushed. This was a good thing, because the place was slammed and it took forever to get our food. It was good though, when it finally arrived. Midway through our meal, a sudden snow squall appeared, dropping enough to coat the Prius and all the roads going home. It was about an inch that replaced last weekend’s dump, which had been washed away by Friday’s heavy rain. By closing Winslow (Its name is a send up to the painter Homer Winslow.), we snagged a couple of free donuts that were going to go unsold anyway.
In gyrotonics this week, we practiced arches and curls. Sitting astride the bench, we rotated its arms. First with arched and then curled backs. This mechanized stretching workout really helped sooth the crick in my back and my unfurled back let me stand a bit taller. This was a remedy that lasted until I shoveled snow yesterday. Maybe it is time to do the homework? The snow didn’t stop and eventually recovered where I had cleared. I went out twice and swept the walk clean. With slippery footing, I whisked the walk and like a curler does, it only made the ice that much more slippery. The snow’s novelty brought out the neighbors and with a note of recrimination, Anne asked afterwards, if I had spent more time talking to them, rather than moving snow. I explained to her that it was a heavy, wet, heart attack snow and a pause or two was the only prudent thing to do. Today, with all novelty long gone, she suggested that before school on Monday that I clean off the driveway apron. I had parked the Prius in the driveway on Friday. But Baby, it’s cold outside.
The government is still shutdown and now, so is Saint Louis. We got a respectable 8″ last night and it is still coming down. In truth, ours like the government’s is only a partial shutdown. Our one-block street is plowed, all the way down to black top and the paper was delivered, eventually. We might even get mail today. There is some heavy-duty shoveling in my future that was made only worse, when rising temperatures heated our aluminum awning enough that the snow piled up on it slid to the ground. Now there’s a rampart at the walk’s head.
Local television is serving up a combination of fear and schadenfreude. Be afraid, don’t venture out or you’ll end up like these unfortunates. Don’t they look miserable? If TV cannot find enough misery, then they manufacture their own, by sending out the newest-cutest reporter to suffer in the elements for you.
We’re all making much adieu about nothing. This storm was well forecasted. Because it first hit during the evening rush hour there was additional turmoil, but everyone had plenty of time to fill their fridge. Hunkering down for a day or two in winter is not all that bad. Everything will be right again by Monday.
Yesterday’s sojourn at the zoo was a tribute of sorts. In 1982, Saint Louis experienced its greatest snowfall in living memory, 19″. We still felt new here and called ourselves Babes in Toyland, having ventured out alone onto the world stage. It was a Saturday and we had attended a matinée at the Esquire. Exiting the theater, we were greeted with thunder-snow. We had plans to visit friends that evening, but begged off. The city was closed for a week.
Like today, it was still snowing the next morning. We lived closer to the park then and took advantage of our sudden richness to cross-country ski. None of the roads were plowed and there were few cars moving. We eventually found our way to the zoo. The entrances were closed, except for a service one, where the gate had been wedged open. We asked an employee, who was climbing through the gap in the gate, if the zoo was open? After thinking, he said yes.
There was not much to see. All the buildings were closed. Including the pictured anole’s herpetarium. The only animals that we saw were the sea lions, who were loving the snow. A sole concession stand was open and in it had gathered some of the zoo’s staff. Sipping hot chocolate, we overheard one man exclaim that he had driven 20 miles to get here, because he had “200 herbivores to feed.” Talk about an essential employee.