Busking a Rube

British Busker and Rube at Covent Garden Market

I’m almost famous, because that’s what it’s all about, fame and fortune, people, fame and fortune and women too. Let’s not forget the women. For example, I was riding in the park today. At mid-morning, I almost had the place to myself. As the bike path crossed Pine, I encountered another cyclist though. He was eastbound on Pine. He was tall and fit and riding an all white bicycle, while wearing a team all white bodysuit with white helmet. He made quite the cycling fashion statement. Because it looked like we were going to intersect, we both slowed. He eventually nodded for me to proceed. I acknowledged with a profunctionary, “How’s it going?” He responded with, “Fine, Mark.”

It wasn’t until we had passed that I realized what he had said. For the life of me, I did not recognize him. This is not all that unusual. I’ve been living in this town for over thirty years and have been cycling in it for more than half of that. I’ve made quite a few biking buddies and have even more acquaintances in the cycling community. For a while, when I was doing the oh-dark-thirty dawn launches to ride in the park before work, I would routinely pass the Clayton Crew. John, a former neighbor, was a regular member of this 40+ boys club. I would call out, “Passing on your left,” and John would answer back, “Hey, Mark.” It didn’t take many repetitions before the entire crew knew my name and then by proxy, very soon after, almost everyone in the park. I felt like the mayor of Forest Park, fame and fortune, folks, fame and fortune. 

Monarchs and Asters

Monarchs and Asters

On Sunday, summer’s heat began to return. It didn’t get hot yesterday, but our forecast promises that it will, with even a shot at setting a new record high. Still, on Sunday the weather was pleasant. Anne and I took advantage of this nice weather and went to Forest Park, for a walk in the woods. We explored Kennedy Forest, located in the southwest corner of the park. One key aspect of this hike was our exploring of the savannah in Kennedy Forest.

It is just a few acres of tall grass prairie, but is a microcosm that suggests what most of Missouri looked like before it was settled. The land is covered with a mixed vegetation that is as tall as a man. A few trees also dot the land. This recreation of a savannah is a relatively new innovation in the park. Invasive honeysuckle has been laboriously hacked back. To prevent it from returning, control burns that simulate natural prairie fires annually scorch the earth. Indigenous seeds are sown and nature is allowed to then take its course. On this afternoon dozens of Monarch butterflies were fluttering about. New England asters were their main attraction. After many attempts I got this photo of one with its wings spread wide.

After the savannah, we hiked trails through the forest. We wandered about until the mosquitoes discovered me. We were held up from crossing a road by scores of motorcyclist that were passing by. It must have been a tweed ride, because all the riders had swapped their leathers for plaid wool. We walked through the zoo, navigating the human throng and saw a few animals too. Afterwards, we lunched at Kaldi’s in De Mun. All-in-all it was a very successful outing. 

Madonna of the Prairie

Madonna of the Prairie, W.H.D. Koerner, 1921, Center of the West

In the western novel “Covered Wagon”, the heroine Molly Wingate traveled the Oregon Trail in a wagon train of settlers. Encountering prairie fires and Indian arrows, the beautiful maiden eventually reached Oregon, where in the conventions of popular fiction, she found true love. In this illustration for the novel’s book jacket, W.H.D. Koerner used the covered wagon to form a halo around the pioneer woman’s head to symbolized her purity. This romanticized view of womanhood is emblematic of dime westerns that idealize the feminine, often forsaking reality.

On Wednesday, I was cycling through the park. I was on my way to view the exhibit “Making a Monster”, which was on display in the Bernard Becker Medical Library, at Barnes. I looked at this outing as preparatory research for the evening’s Science on Tap lecture, which also involved “Frankenstein.”

On the way there, I witnessed an accident on the bike trail. It involved a woman cyclist, who was heading in my direction and two black men, both of whom were on electric scooters and heading in the opposite direction. I was following the woman and saw that as she passed a walker that was also heading in her direction, she nearly collided with the first scooter, before hitting the second. She and the second man fell, but fortunately on the grass. I stopped to ask if everyone was OK. She said she was and although neither of the men spoke, both seemed OK too. So, I headed on my way to the hospital.

It all happened so fast that I still cannot say whose fault the accident was and I had the best of all possible eyewitness views. The two men were both hugging the centerline and the first seemed to momentarily cross it just before his near miss. She actually passed him on his opposite side, which seemed to cause her to lose control of her bicycle, before colliding with the second man and ending up sprawled in the grass on the opposite side of the path.

About an hour later, I was heading home. As I approached the accident site, I had a premonition to look for something. Maybe in the rush of events that was the accident my subconscious noticed something flying out of someone’s bag. It was there in the grass, a Power Juice battery phone charger ($23.49 Amazon). There was no one else around, save for two city workers, both on rider mowers.

Over the years, I have collected my fair share of swag and more rarely donated swag back to the park community, but in all of the previous instances, I never had an inkling to the original owner. I would have taken it anyway, even without the impending mowers. I promise to keep a lookout for the individuals involved in the accident and return the charger to its owner. I don’t really need it, because I already have a Power Monkey charger and I don’t need another one. If it was the woman’s that could be quite likely, since her route and mine coincided for several miles that day. If it was one of the men’s I would judge it less likely, primarily because they were riding rented scooters, but I’ll keep an eye out.