Rebecca and Reka

New Saint Louis Zoo Tiger, Reka

We have pretty much recovered from the discombobulation of last week’s travel, but not before kind of ruining our Easter dinner. You see, before we travel, I always try to run our larder down to nothing and in this case, we were still cooking day-to-day. I hadn’t shopped for Sunday on Saturday, like I should have, because when I went to the grocery store, I found a nearly empty parking lot. I knew then that the store was closed for Easter, but I had some plastic bags to recycle, and I wanted to do at least that. The only other cars in the lot were a pair of electric vehicles sucking on the juice that the store must subsidize and a fire truck. The fire people were testing the hydrant on a day that would not disturb any customers. We ended up just having leftovers for our Easter dinner.

Yesterday, also on the subject of Easter dinner, Anne spoke with Harry. He told her that his mother would make bacalao, (a Spanish dish with cod), and latkes. She learned to make latkes from her mother-in-law, Rebecca. Rebecca grew up in Lviv, as it is called now, “not a shtetl, but a big city”. When she and her husband, Louis, emigrated, it was then part of the Austrian-Hungary empire and then called Lemberg. Which makes Anne part Austrian, I guess, but I prefer thinking of her as part Ukrainian. Not sure what Harry had for Easter dinner this year, but I’m sure that it was excellent.

Last week, we took the opportunity to visit the zoo. It was on a Thursday, and I didn’t expect the crowd that we encountered. I guess all of Catholic school children were off for Holy Week, but both the regular bird house and the 1904 Flight Cage were closed to the public. Not because of Covid, but because of the more recent Avian flu outbreak. More than a decade after Rebecca had left Lemberg/Lviv (1893), the Smithsonian commissioned the Flight Cage for the 1904 World’s Fair and then had intended to move it to the National Zoo in Washington. But Saint Louisans rallied to keep the Flight Cage here and the City of Saint Louis soon purchased it for $3,500. The structure had originally cost $17,500 to construct (such a deal). It soon served as the impetus for Saint Louis to develop a full-fledged zoo—the first municipally supported zoo in the world. About Reka, she is the zoo’s new tiger that was acquired late last year, when the previous tiger had to be put down. This was the first time that we saw her. 

Snake in the Basement

Ethiopian Mountain Adder

Yesterday, I found a snake in the basement. It was dead, but only recently so, because I found it in the middle of the floor, in the most trafficked part of the basement. It probably died within the previous twenty-four hours, otherwise I would have seen it before. It was a small snake, only about a foot long and only about as thick as a pencil. I don’t know what kind of snake that it was. I’ve found Garter snakes in the backyard before, but this one was brown in color, so it could have been a Copperhead. It certainly wasn’t a rare Ethiopian Mountain Adder, but I don’t know what it was. I suspect that the snake slithered beneath the back basement door, probably in the fall, before it got cold. It probably died of starvation and/or exposure, the basement gets pretty cold in the winter. It is a mystery. This snake does not even take the cake for the most unusual animal that I have found in the basement. Years ago, when I was still bicycling in the park before dawn, I would frequently hear the sound of a cricket coming from the recesses of the basement. Even at this time of year. Whenever I would investigate the sound, it would go silent. One morning though, I managed to get the light on in the front room and there was said cricket in the center of the floor, it was a cave cricket. Missouri being the cave state makes the quite common around here. In this case though, as an accidental invader, this cricket was a pest that would eat fabric. So, I stepped on it.

Cave Cricket, Picture from Wiki