I am in St. Louis for the next few days. I came to help Angela with the process of recovery after having her wisdom teeth extracted. Things seem to be going very well so far, to the extent that I am pretty useless even a day after the procedure.
But this trip may also end up being about the opportunity for me to indulge in quirky pursuits that end up lifting spirits in unexpected ways. Something about being dropped into a new and somewhat unfamiliar place tends to get the blood flowing. And then there are the moments that one never anticipated.
The first morning in town found me on my own in an empty apartment with a need to step out to get coffee. It was my opportunity to walk the streets of downtown St. Louis. A vaguely familiar smell of the big city, and its morning sounds, assailed my senses as I walked down Washington Avenue towards City Museum. The city also seemed to be coming to life at this time of the morning – folks picking up their morning coffees from the cafes; trucks making morning deliveries while stopped on the main road, blocking lanes. I made somewhat random turns into side streets, trying to get some measure of familiarity with the new environment while observing city life. It felt somewhat energizing to be in this frame of mind – observing things going on around me that I do not usually experience in daily life. I felt alive once again in a strange way. And I could walk forever!
Things were going so well in the evening the day of the dental procedure that I decided to step out of the apartment in the evening to take a walk to the nearby Gateway Arch to stretch my feet. I had not seen the place after the completion of its recent renovation.The riverboat was out on the Mississippi, and the sun was beginning to disappear behind the downtown buildings.An unexpected treat awaited. There were signs for an event that was going on. It turns out that it was the first weekend of the “Blues at the Arch” festival, and that it happened to take place on Fridays in August , and the day that I was there was the first Friday in August! I had come upon a distinctly St. Louis event by sheer chance. There had two bands playing each evening and I had arrived in time for the second one of that evening. There were crowds of people chilling out in the grass in front of a stage next to the Eads bridge. Food and drink were available for tents on either side of the stage. The band began to play and I was hooked for the rest of the show. Zac Harmon, from Jackson, Mississippi, led a band of folks from Texas in a bluesy set that set the place rocking. People were moving to the beat of old classics. The band was good. Instead of walking back home, I decided that I was going to grab a Schnickelfritz from the Urban Chestnut tent, and a chicken kabob from the neighboring stall, and settle in on the grass for a evening of music. The feeling that came over me can only be described as sheer bliss. Every other aspect of existence was forgotten as I immersed myself into the experience of that moment, enjoying the feeling of the music, and my food and beer, and the feeling of being one with the mellow crowd. And I had happened upon all of this by pure chance. These are moments to live for.
In spite of having spent more time than I expected outside yesterday, and having returned back to the apartment later than expected, I went out early this morning to Forest Park for a birding tour. That was fun in spite of the fact that almost all the birds we saw were familiar to me. The group that went on this tour was quite large and was led by two birders associated with the park. We basically wandered over to a section of the park where we had a decent chance of finding birds of different kinds. It was an opportunity to chill out with other people while walking around in the morning.
We might go out to see the musical Meet me in St. Louis at the The Muny in the park some evening. Maybe a trip to the National Blues Museum another day. If I get the chance, I will also go for a run around the park.
I think St. Louis is going to keep me occupied during this trip!