Monday, September 28, 2020

An Alton Safari

We were starting to run low on parks that were anywhere near St. Louis. This one was closed but I had developed an obsession of getting a picture with all of their signs so here we are.

Edward “Ted” and Pat Jones-Confluence Point State Park sits where the Missouri River joins with the Mississippi River in West Alton, MO. The Lewis and Clark Expedition began at the confluence in 1804.

I still wanted to do some walking and we were already pretty close to real Alton so we hopped the border.

All of this outdoorsy activity of late, plus being pandemic homebound, awakened a hobby from my childhood: ant keeping. I'm kind of excited because I now how the power and resources of an adult, plus the knowledge of the internet. As a kid digging up ants in the backyard I did not know what the heck I was doing and they always ended up dying.

I'd been on the lookout for a queen to start a colony of my own at home. I spotted one and grabbed it but it escaped before I could get it back to the car. So close!

As soon as I'm a billionaire I'm going to buy a bunch of small town theatres and restore them to their former glory.

I roasted some artichoke hearts that I got for free. I'm easily amused.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Pickin' Up Pawpaws Puttin' em in a Basket

I've been longing for the mysterious pawpaw fruit since maybe kindergarten when we were forced to sing a song about pawpaws. I still remember there being argument at the time as to what a pawpaw even was. In the before times when the internet was barely existent, you actually had to wonder about answers to question for more than five seconds. We had plans to go to a pawpaw festival with my parents last year which were dashed by the pandemic. Before our trip to Kenya I read that pawpaw was available there and was super excited to try it. When we I arrived I realized that it was all a lie and that the locals were just too lazy to say the full version of the word "papaya". So needless to say, pawpaws and I have some unfinished business. I read an article that pawpaw season was almost over and I said: Hell. No. Not this time you damn tree polyp.

During our numerous Missouri state park hikes we noticed a practical wild orchard of pawpaw trees on one of the trails. So we knew exactly where to go, which was nice. After some wandering I spotted one fruit on a tree a ways off the trail. Then I realized they were everywhere. Their green is the same shade as the leaves so they are kind of hard to see. Anyway I started shaking the slender trees and Lydia ran back and forth at the bottom of the hill collecting them before they rolled into the pond below. It was like an old video game.

Pawpaw is the state fruit tree of Missouri, and goes by fun common names such as American custard apple, and Missouri banana. I read some excerpts of Lewis and Clark's journals where they were talking about eating a ton of them instead of hunting when they were in season.

Some of our fruit shopping occured in a dry stream bed. There were some turtle shells missing their turtles.

Pawpaws accomplished!

A Bit of Springfield Nostalgia

Today we headed up to Springfield for some amusement.

I picked up a bad habit while working at Anheuser-Busch that I'm not proud of: collecting beer cans. I couldn't resist these very corny Busch Lights.

My friends at Illinois College gave me a pretty good rural Illinois geography lesson. This Gillespie-Benld ambulance reminded me of simpler times. I've thanked my lucky stars throughout this pandemic that I got through childhood, college, and teaching in Japan before the pandemic struck. Young people are getting robbed of some important life events that they are never going to get back.

Anyhoo, I saw something about concerts at the Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon in Washington Park. These days it's hard to pass up an outdoor activity of any interest. Plus since it was in Springfield I could invite my parents along.

Not only did I plan on attending the concert, but I saw that they were taking requests. I asked for some Godfather and Star Wars tunes and they didn't disappoint.

It's really a great asset to Springfield that I didn't take full advantage of when I lived here. There's nothing like this in St. Louis, that's for sure.

I don't think I knew before today that the Godfather theme song has an actual name: "Speak Softly, Love".

After the show we strolled the park a bit. Lydia got to see where I went to preschool.

There was a mosquito on Lydia's head and I saved her life with a good smack.

The annual Edwards Place Fine Art Fair just happened to be taking place so we popped over for a looksee. This may be the first outdoor festival sort of thing we've done since judgement day. 

I made Lydia walk with me down memory lane at my old high school, Ursuline Academy. I think the buildings are abandoned now which is a bit too on-the-nose as far as the end of my childhood or something along those lines. It was nice to see it but I wish it didn't have to be like this.

I got a bit of that feeling where the building felt so much bigger when I was a student here.

I remember that sometimes my grandpa and I would pick a bunch of green beans or some other produce out at the farm and then bring it to the sisters that lived in the attached convent.

You could almost imagine that the building was being used for some purpose, but there were several windows with broken glass that betrayed the fact that the good times were long past. My mom and my grandma went to school here before me so it is definitely a loss to our family's history.

This was the senior porch. There was lawn furniture and so it was a place that the cool upperclassmen could hang out. Of course by the time it was my turn to be a senior I believe that the porch was in disrepair and was supposedly dangerous and so we weren't allowed on it anymore, if memory serves.