Shut Show

Smallwood’s Anole

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. 

Wolf Lichen

Wolf Lichen

Letharia vulpina, commonly known as the wolf lichen is bright yellow-green, shrubby and highly branched, and grows on the bark of living and dead conifers, most commonly in the Pacific Northwest and the northern Rocky Mountains. This lichen is a symbiotic relationship between algae and a fungus. The algae help photosynthesize the light from the sun producing sugars for the fungus to eat. The fungus in return help plants absorb the mineral nutrients necessary for growth in extreme environments. This specimen was found near the Old Faithful geyser basin in Yellowstone. This species is toxic to mammals due to its yellow pigment, which is not chlorophyll, but vulpinic acid and has been used for years to poison wolves. It is also been used as pigment for dyes and paints.

The snow began, but I was already out and about. I went over to Forest Park. It was pretty deserted. I visited the zoo and pretty much had it to myself. On the way back, I swung by Art Hill, but it was still too early to see any action there, but the grass was getting whiter by the minute. The city had dumped a couple of truckloads of firewood. I cut through the art museum, but I couldn’t stay very long, because they were going to close early, due to the weather. The streets were all snow-covered, as I carefully drove home. I’m waiting for Anne to call, so that I can rescue her from school. Then we’ll hunker down for the weekend. 

Crystalline Water

June Frost – Yellowstone

Up to a foot of snow is forecasted for Saint Louis this weekend and I say bring it on! History tells us that the actual amount of snow fall received may vary, but only downward. The storm watch begins tomorrow at noon, but only starts to get interesting during the evening rush hour. Snow fall is expected to last until Sunday. Temperatures that will hover around the freezing point are complicating this forecast. Much of the precipitation could end up just being rain, but with all of this occurring over the weekend, Anne was led to gripe, what a waste of a good snow day.

In true Saint Louis fashion, I will rush to my local grocery store, before all of the milk, bread and beer is swept from the shelves. It is an oft-repeated madness that I have come to wonder might just be part of a ploy to stoke commerce. I’m a creature of habit though and will stock the fridge full, no matter what. Once safely home again, I’ll scan the skies, searching for that elusive white stuff.

To that end, I walked to the store today. The sun was out, with barely a cloud in the sky. It was crazy. A full 24-hours before the snow watch is scheduled to begin and people were already going nuts. The store was well stocked, but like I said the storm is still a day away. I’m sure that tomorrow’s evening news will show footage of looted looking store shelves. As Saint Louis cowers in fear, awaiting old man winter’s wrath, at least we’ll be well fed.

It was freezing cold that pictured June morning. In the twenties. We were tent camping at 7800′.  We woke at dawn and while still warm in our bags, as soon as we exploded out of them, we darted to the restrooms. Which were heated, but only enough to keep the pipes from freezing. Then back to the car, with the heat on full, we drove to the Lamar Valley and found plenty of wild beasties to see.

Winter Weather

Endlessly Repeating Modernism

Last night was wild and wicked weather wise. We dodged a bullet as winter storm Bruce brought blizzard like conditions just north and west of us. It was still too warm here to snow, but that warmth collided with the oncoming cold front and spawned tornadoes. Chicago got socked and hundreds of flights were canceled. So, it was with more than the normal amount of trepidation that we arose at three to get Dave to his flight on time. He was still go for launch as we all drove to the airport. It was still a dark and stormy night, although little of the white stuff had landed. The wind was still howling, as it had been all night long, shaking windows and the back porch screen door, which was being blown open and then back shut again with a bang. We dropped Dave off. Said our goodbyes quickly in the razor-sharp wind-chill and were back in bed less than an hour after rising. This time we both fell back asleep and were only awakened again by Dave’s text announcing that he had landed safely in Boston, dodging a bullet.  

And When the Saints

Jack Frost

And when the saints come marching in, I want to be in their number, like St. Anne, St. Bob, St. Colic, all closed. The list of school closings is full of saints. Winter storm Avery, the first named storm of the season, has nailed St. Louis. Anne had a middle school gig, now nada. In past years, we would watch the TV crawler and see first, Mapaville and Richwoods and an endless train of saints and almost never Maplewood-Richmond Heights, but not this time. 

Kelly Inc. robo called us at six. They called to say there would be no school. Thanks. I couldn’t get back to sleep afterwards. Everything was so quiet out, being under a new blanket of snow. It looks like five inches from overnight and it’s still snowing. I can’t see the paper and I’m not about to go looking.

So, today is officially a snow day, but since both of our next door neighbors work from home, for them not so much. While most of the rest of our neighbors don’t appear to be in any hurry to go to work. Yesterday, I put up the bird feeders and they’re now doing a land office business. That didn’t take long. Waiting for the snow to stop falling, so that I can start digging ourselves out.


CWE Street Lights

The remnants of Hurricane Gordon are forecasted to arrive in Saint Louis this weekend. It is supposed to start raining Friday and all day Saturday, bringing with it over 3″ of rain. Normally, we would have been planning to do the Bike MS ride, as we have done many times in the past, but our lack of training had convinced us not to ride this year. Gordon’s advent only confirms this decision.

I’ve done the MS-150 charity ride in bad weather before and it is no fun. A similar September hurricane visitation caused the MS Society to revamp its route. On that year, everyone rode out, away from their cars and overnighted in Mexico, MO. The storm moved in Saturday night and left stranded some 2,000 cyclists with the prospect of riding back in the rain. Many bikers wanted to be sagged home, but the MS Society wasn’t equipped to handle this. I gutted it out and the next year and on all subsequent years rides have been structured as two one-day out-and-backs. With the rain coming mainly on Saturday, will make this year’s ride especially hard, since Saturday is always the more popular day.

This year aside, we haven’t given up on biking. I still ride most days in the park and once Anne finishes her long-term sub gig, I’ll get her back out on the bike. We signed up for a new multi-day cycling tour, Cycle Zydeco. We’ll join some of our Saint Louis bike buddies next April, down in Cajun country. 

Before Gordon began to loom over this weekend, we had planned to attend the Saint Louis Art Fair. This fair always conflicted with the MS-150 and it has been years since I’ve attended it. I was looking forward to visiting it this year, but the weather makes this seem more doubtful now.