Peak Spring

We sloughed off after the weekend, but got back on the bikes. We had been contemplating revisiting Madison County in Illinois, but people up north are having some sort of bomb cyclone that is dragging high winds across the bare corn fields here. Instead, we let discretion choose the better part of valor. We opted for a city ride. Wind wasn’t the only deciding factor though, news reports said that the gardens had extended their hours, because its Japanese garden’s cherry blossoms had peaked. It wasn’t only just there. Our neighborhood trees are flowering, the park is flowering and as anyone with hay fever would tell you, the whole city has blossomed.

It was the perfect spring day. We launched in the morning with just a hint of winter’s chill still remaining in the air. By the time that we recovered, after the day had warmed, there was enough heat to further hint at summer. Spring in Saint Louis has always seemed to teeter on a fulcrum, one day being winter and the next summer. If this year be true to form, then this is that day when it flips.

We headed out into a headwind, passing through the park. Anne chose to pose beneath some flowering cherries. I especially love the petal grout between the tiles. We toured Tower Grove Park and then lunched on South Grand. This being a weekday, we were able to get in at the Vine, a middle eastern flavored restaurant, probably halal too. We had been shutout last weekend, because it was so popular. The food was great. Afterwards, we swung by the gardens just to see those cherry blossoms.

Sped by a tailwind, we hurried home. An I-44 overpass on Tower Grove Ave. that is under construction, bottlenecked our route and we had to suffer truly deafening noise as we traversed it. We have been experimenting with alternative ways around Tower Grove Ave. On our return we discovered a vast swath, 15 acres, of Forest Park Southeast that is undergoing immediate gentrification. I may be blind, but I just woke to this change on this ride. This traditionally black neighborhood that was just honored this month with the naming of Bob Gibson Way in also undergoing wholesale slaughter. We heard about the 15 acres from a construction worker. It is a Wash U development. It’s not surprising. This low rent neighborhood is sandwiched between the Grove and the all-consuming Wash U / SLU central corridor and enjoys the last un-redeveloped park access. 

Garden Glow

I saw sunshine yesterday morning, while I was still lying in bed, then I rolled over and went back to sleep. Later when I awoke again, it was gone. Was it a dream or was it really the day before? Things are starting to run together around here for me. My monster winter holiday is racing past me now, faster and faster, but not without leaving me a few fond memories to treasure. It has been unusually grey around Saint Louis this December, with very few sunny days. It was definite grey the rest of yesterday. At least until it was time to go out for the evening, then it black and it started to rain. Actually, it was really more sleet, than rain.

Anne, the boys and I joined Joanie and her friend Vicki for a trip through this winter weather to a Winter Wonderland. We went to the Missouri Botanical Gardens, to see their holiday lights special. I thought about rescheduling this event, because of the weather, but our tickets said, “Absolutely No Refunds!” It was crowded, and it was either raining or sleeting and it was cold too, but not near as freaking cold as it had been last year. In some ways this year’s Garden Glow was better than last year’s and in some ways not quite as good. I liked what they did with the reflecting ponds better. Last year the ponds had been emptied, otherwise they would have been frozen solid. The tree that had been spectacularly wrapped in blue LEDs last year had lost a branch in the interval and this year’s wrapping seemed rather half-hearted by comparison. Still it was fun and by the end of our tour, the rain had stopped. The boys seemed to enjoy it too. They were the last ones out.

We all decided to go for an afterglow repast and Vicki suggested the Piccadilly at Manhattan, a place new for the rest of us. The restaurant is located at the intersection of these two streets. I thought that the restaurant was located in Maplewood, because we always used to cross Manhattan on the way to Bruce school for cub scouts, but our waitress informed us that we were a good two blocks into the city. I’ve biked by it before. Built in a house, this restaurant has been owned and run by the same family since 1901. They serve comfort food. The food was good and we were all impressed with it.

Bikes, Birds and Brunch

We launched earlier than yesterday’s crack of noon, for today’s bicycle ride. We wanted to beat the heat. We rode though Forest Park, which was more crowded today than it was yesterday. The Tour de Cure was running down Lindell Boulevard and there was another cancer related charity event, a walk that was circling the Muny Mile. With some slogging, we made it through the park and on towards Tower Grove Park. Halfway around Tower Grove, we elected to head over to Local Harvest for brunch. Rather unusually, it was not crowded. I found out later that the restaurant has reduced its hours to just the weekend. This might explain why it wasn’t overflowing, as is normally the case, other people might have thought it had closed altogether. After brunch, we circled the other half of Tower Grove Park. We saw the Green Heron in one of the lily ponds in front of the Piper Palm House. He looked to be a yearling, he was smaller than normal. Returning to Forest Park, we saw the egret next. He was fishing in the lazy section of river that flows through Steinberg Prairie. I was having trouble getting a good picture of him, because he kept disappearing behind an island, but then the Blue Heron swept in and flushed the egret back out into the open for us. The Red Eared Sliders seemed oblivious to the whole thing.

Bye Bye Blackbird

Neoporteria - Stick It

Neoporteria – Stick It

So long, Michele Bachmann, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Yesterday, this soon to be former US Representative from Minnesota announced her planned retirement from Congress, at the end of her current term, in 2014. She made this announcement via a nine-minute web video, in which claimed that her decision to retire from Congress was not influenced by any of her looming legal difficulties or that she was afraid that she might not win reelection in 2014. In full disclosure, I did not listen to her video; life is too short for nine-minutes of that sort of drivel. I’m sure that she claimed that she wanted to spend more time with her family, or some such rot.

Less than twenty-four hours after her announcement though, her first trial date was set for next May. By then she ought to be well on the way to transitioning from her current occupation, Congresswoman to her next job as a defendant. This court date is for a civil suit that is being pressed because during her failed 2012 Presidential bid, the Bachmann campaign allegedly stole and then illegally used an email list belonging to an Iowa homeschooling organization. This legal action is just part of the rumbling after effects of a campaign that began so promisingly. Bachmann won the Republican Iowa Straw Poll, the first, albeit unofficial vote of the Presidential election. From there it was all down hill.

Looming on the horizon for Bachmann are a Congressional ethics investigation that is expected to make its report next month and an accompanying FBI investigation. Both probes center on alleged illegal uses of her PAC campaign funds, also in Iowa. Bachmann was probably hoping to transition to a cushy and lucrative Fox News consultancy, but instead she might find herself doing her own pro bono defense work. On your way out of government service Michele, don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord split you.

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.