Meet Me in St. Louis

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.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe riverboat was out on the Mississippi,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA and the sun was beginning to disappear behind the downtown buildings.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAn 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.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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A juvenile black crowned night heron
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A goldfinch
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A catbird
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A red-winged blackbird
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Queen Anne’s Lace

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!

Zooming Into The St. Louis BBQ Festival

These pictures were taken from the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.  By changing the scale of the captured picture, one is able to zoom into the BBQ festival that was going on and even see the stage on which they were having performances.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe did, of course, stop by the festival to sample the food.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Graceful

Gracefulness is in the eye of the beholder.  It is a rather loose term that describes a feeling that is evoked, and people might have different opinions in this regard.  From a visual perspective, I feel that gracefulness is usually associated with beauty that looks natural and blends with the surroundings. It could evoke a sense of effortless strength, a lightness of being, and perhaps even quiet dignity.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe find gracefulness in both the still form or in movement.  The nature of the motion looks graceful to me in the following picture. img_5977An object that is not necessarily graceful in its stillness can become graceful when it begins to move.  While experiencing grace in movement requires you to actually see the movement, it is possible to imagine the gracefulness of the motion from the nature of a still picture.  A think a pelican gliding over the water looks graceful.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis somewhat awkward looking great blue heron looks graceful to me when it begins to fly.  The motion of its wings is (relatively) slow and smooth, and the bird seems to be taking flight effortlessly.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA But sometimes, the still image can trick you.  I think the baby in the picture below, although cute, is not very graceful in its movement in real life.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have observed that still objects can look graceful from a certain visual perspective and perhaps not so much so from other points-of-view.  The nature of the picture and the circumstances of the picture can enhance the feeling of gracefulness.  There was a lot of construction going on around the Gateway Arch in St. Louis when we visited.  Even though the arch looks stunning regardless of the surroundings,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAit gracefulness was truly revealed to me only from this particular point-of-view.  (Like I said, gracefulness is in the eye of the beholder!)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABridges can look graceful, especially those of the suspension type.  To me both the Sydney harbor bridge (which is actually a through arch bridge) and Sydney Opera House look graceful in this picture against the skyline at this time of the evening.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA There is something in the outlines of these structures that makes them seem even more graceful before the evening lights are turned on.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASeeing more details of the structures can have a different impact on you.   I think the bridge still looks graceful from this perspective.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANot sure if this is still true of the opera house in this picture taken from the bridge.P6271493.jpg

I am sure there are different opinions and thoughts on this topic.  There is no way to be really objective about it.