Dancing on the Pedals

First Egret of the Year

First Egret of the Year

Anne and I went dancing today, dancing on our pedals that is, in a most immodest way, but the day didn’t begin with us both prancing with such vigor. Rather, the day started out on the slow side of life. It began with us starring as extras on the waking dead, a role which we parlayed into parts on the walking dead and then we got our own spinoff, the biking dead. We were both sore and tired from previous weekend cycling efforts. We persisted though, took it easy and by the end of the afternoon felt pretty good about ourselves, rejuvenated.

We mainly kept to Forest Park. It was crowded, but not as oppressively so as it was yesterday. Apparently, Saint Louisans can only stand a couple of days of great weather, before they get bored with the whole fresh air and exercise thing. We combined biking with birding, complementary pastimes. Biking gets you from one good birding spot to another quickly and easily and birding gives you plenty of time to rest in between rides. In addition to the Great White Egret pictured here, we also saw a brown thrasher, a yellow shafted flicker and some song sparrows and numerous other birds of low repute, like Canada geese, robins, mallards and grackles. We left the park for lunch at Duff’s in the Central West End, patio dining again. Bikers love patio dining, because all that fresh air helps to dilute the smell of sweaty cyclists.

Signs of Spring

I bicycled all day today. I didn’t end up with all that many miles for such an all day effort, but at least I was out and about. I rode around Forest Park by myself, once in the morning. This is the weekend of the Saint Louis marathon, which actually isn’t until tomorrow, but today they held a 5K run in the park. The place was mobbed with all the people who will not be doing the full marathon or even the half marathon tomorrow.

I returned home and rousted Anne out of the house. We launched towards the park again, by this time the 5K crowd had dissipated, only to be replaced by the usual weekend mob, their numbers swelled by today’s beautiful springtime weather. We passed through the park and headed towards Tower Grove Park. They’ve dropped a couple of bridges over Forty, so we tried a different route than usual. This took us through parts of the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood that we don’t usually pass through. There is a lot of construction going on in this area, revitalizing the neighborhood.

We did a turn through half of Tower Grove, and then decided to bail to Morganford, Local Harvest and lunch. We ate on the patio, which is now enclosed, so we were quite comfortable. After lunch, we completed our circuit of Tower Grove Park. Kickball season was in full swing. We passed a couple of guys who were practicing their knife fighting skills in the middle of the road. I think that they were only practicing and not really fighting, because there was an instructional aspect to their conversation. After we passed them, Anne advised me to never bring a bicycle to a knife fight.

On our way back from Tower Grove, we stopped off at the Botanical Gardens. All of the pictures with this post were taken in the garden. It was crowded there too. There were an awful lot of weddings being held there today. Brides were popping out from behind every tree. On the way home from there, we enjoyed the tailwind when we had it and endured the headwind when we had to.

Tamarack House

Bird Fossil #1

Bird Fossil #1

Not every dinosaur died in the mass extinction that ended the Mesozoic Era: birds survived. These fossils are evidence that bird survivors rapidly diversified in the tropical conditions of the early Cenozoic Era. By 50 million years ago numerous new forms had evolved, including ancestors of many living tropical birds. Both of these pictured bird fossils are from different but undermined species. They both are from the Eocene period, some 34 to 55 million years ago. These fossils were found at Fossil Lake, WY.

Tamarack House by Michael Dowling was the second offering in this year’s Ignite! festival that the Saint Louis Repertory Theater is producing. We attended a reading of this play on Wednesday evening. The following is the Rep’s synopsis of this play:

A big, old boarding house sits on a beautiful spot of land in a small New England town, but its days are numbered as housing developments encroach. The house is rundown and beat up but has hidden potential, like the discarded misfits who live there. Caught in the whirlpool of a fleeting American dream, they struggle to hold onto the house that defines them. They’ve got to figure out what to do, and quick. A funny, quirky and moving story by an exciting new American voice.

Playwright Michael Dowling hales from the Berkshires were you can imagine that this play was set. He studied with David Mamet at NYU and you can further imagine some Mamet influences in this play. Dowling’s writing is verbose, but his dialogue is snappy and the language is salty, all very Mamet like. I liked Tamarack House better than this year’s first offering Soups, Stews and Casseroles: 1976 by Rebecca Gilman. Both plays featured a twist ending, but the one in Tamarack House was the more believable. Further comparing the two plays, Gilman’s play seemed the more polished of the two, but that might just be where these two projects are in the development cycle. I want to give a shout-out to Joneal Joplin, the hardest working actor in Saint Louis. He played Earl, the retiring owner of Tamarack House.

Ancient tamarack trees could have been contemporaries of the fossilized birds shown here. They might have tweeted from its branches or hissed like a lizard. Who knows what they sounded like? Most if not all of the characters in Dowling’s play are on the verge of extinction. Their habitat, this house, is the key to their survival and they inhabit a very fragile ecology.

Bird Fossil #2

Bird Fossil #2

The Barred Owl

Barred Owl by Dan from Work

Barred Owl by Dan from Work

My friend, Dan at work emailed me a photo of this Barred owl on Sunday morning. I processed it to fit the constraints of this blog, but fundamentally it is his photograph. The bird was squawking in a tree just outside his house in Wildwood. It really is a great shot!

I went for a bicycle ride in the park on Sunday. I perused the Forest Park owl nest, without joy. There will be no double owl header in this post, as I had hoped. There was an ice sculpturing exhibition at Steinberg Rink, but after perusing the dailies, I’ve decided that I should have flashed the subjects, which I regret that I did not. The ice would have really lit up and helped to obscure the odious background.

Soul Food Supper

A Pair of Mergansers on the Birch Point Rocks

A Pair of Mergansers on the Birch Point Rocks

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word – Martin Luther King Jr.

The high school held the annual Soul Food Supper tonight. There were lots of good foods to be had, fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy (we showed up too late for the sweet potatoes), black-eyed peas, ham and beans and collard greens. I ate too much and was too full for dessert. Anne only had the thinnest sliver of pie.

Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken, winged bird that cannot fly. – Langston Hughes

This year’s program was much briefer then in years past, partly because we showed up too late to hear the high school’s jazz band play. I would have liked to hear them play again, because they have gotten so much better than when Dave was in it. Sorry Dave, I know that I could have said that so much better. There were the usual opening ceremonies, followed by one church choir and then the highlight of the evening, musical selections from the Medina family, a brother and two sister trio. They really rocked! Only one of the girls is still in high school now.

I feel that the most important requirement in success is learning to overcome failure. You must learn to tolerate it, but never accept it. – Reggie Jackson

After dinner, we hung around and socialized for a bit. We spoke with Joann and Jim for a while and then Nelson. His wife Gina Mitten, a newly elected State Representative was up at Jeff City tonight, fighting the good fight against the agitprop [1] Republican machine whose panjandrum [2] leaders have spread the diktat [3] that any compromise is anathema. I love finding and then using big new words (at least to me), with a hat tip to Michael Tomasky.

[1] Agitprop – propaganda; especially: political propaganda promulgated chiefly in literature, drama, music, or art. Origin of Agitprop: Russian, ultimately from agitatsiya agitation + propaganda. First known use: 1935

[2] Panjandrum – a powerful personage or pretentious official. Origin of Panjandrum: Grand Panjandrum, burlesque title of an imaginary personage in some nonsense lines by Samuel Foote. First known use: 1856

[3] Diktat – a harsh settlement unilaterally imposed (as on a defeated nation). Origin of Diktat: German, literally something dictated, from New Latin dictatum, from Latin, neuter of dictatus, past participle of dictare to dictate. First known use: 1933