All Hallows Eve.  A lantern made from a gourd. A very special color, size, and shape gourd that is.

Making a proper Jack-O-Lantern is messy business.

Cover the table with newspaper.  Stab into the top – careful – not too close to the stem! Cut a fine circle. Okay, it looks more like a wayward octagon (for October?) by the time you finish.

Loosen the fragrant netting structure holding the seeds. Follow with your hand, time after time dipping into the depths, pulling out seeds and fibers to set aside. Will you rescue some of the seeds? Dry and salt them for a treat? After the hand comes the spoon to scrape the lining smooth, pick up stray seeds that slipped through your fingers.

And now the test! Have you drawn the face with pencil or crayon. Decided upon round or oval eyes? And the mouth – smile? frown? teeth? how many?

Final touch- in the very center make a depression with your spoon – nestle your fat candle inside.

Finished! Clean up the mess. Scrub the table. Set in a safe place and burn the candle only under adult supervision.

Smile on fiberglass imposter.

Colorful Harvest

The pumpkins are here! The pumpkins are here!

Late October and thoughts turn to costume parties, trick or treat, candy, apples, and largest and most important – PUMPKINS!!!

Like the customers at the charity sales site, they come in all sizes. We walk among them, pick up a few to check the bottom, test the weight.

I like the tiny ones, they fit in one hand and add color and class to centerpieces.

Wait – there’s a nice medium one – see the curved stem handle? A taller rather than wider shape will background a great face.

A big one? A small child could hide behind this one! Wide, nice rib design, and lots and lots of room to make our design.

During the third wander through the colorful choices we select the perfect fit. Money changes hands and home we go. Discussion turns first to paint or carve. Then the annual debate – happy face? Scary face? Should we make it look like daddy?

Come to our place with your Trick or Treat bag to see!

Pick me! Pick me!

Saturday Gathering

The first lady arrives with a magazine and a steaming cup of coffee. She leans against the building, takes in the view across a quiet parking lot. She checks her watch, tells herself to relax, it will be a fair portion of time.

Another arrives with similiar items to pass the time. She claims a section of the low planter as a seat, grateful the maintenance man has not turned on the watering system.

They greet each other. Chat for a minute. Nod at an early morning walker or comment on the weather.  Welcome another early customer and together they pass the cluster of minutes until the beauty shop opens and they can receive fresh hairstyles.

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Flood Gauge

Sights and sounds along the downtown section of the the St. Louis levee vary with the season.

Fair weather and summer bring the most visitors. They explore the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (The Arch) grounds and dine at a fine selection of sites in the restored buildings of Lacledes Landing.

One thing I always want to check is the Clark statue. Installed in 2006 to commerate the return of Lewis and Clark from their trip of Western exploration it stands on the levee in the shadow of the Eads Bridge.

A perfect position to judge the rise and fall of the Mississippi River. Unofficial, a good conversation starter – the water is up to Clark’s…….

...with dry feet in late September
...hat in early July

Bridle Moment

On a fine, early autumn Saturday the horse drawn carriage business downtown thrives. With a steady clip-clop a single horse pulls a visitor up the brick paved streets of a historic district. The sound changes as they turn unto the asphalt paved street at the corner.

Patrons come in all sizes – from the small children with parents, a young couple having a romantic experience, or an out-of-town visitor desiring a leisurely tour.

I approach the entrance to the hotel and see her. The bride stands in the carriage – other girls of the wedding party are near – not a male member in sight. She surveys the scene through her dark glasses, adjusts her skirt with her tattoo clad arm, and picks up a faux fur purse with the other. She is an originial bride.

A moment to pause, note the silver dress of a young bridesmaid, conserative clothing of a woman with her. But then the highlight.

The flower girl, clad in long white dress and a veil secured on her head draping to mid-back stands on the edge of the sidewalk. She rises on her toes, extends one hand and gently pats the horse.


Bridal Party

If cities have trademarks then the one for St. Louis would be “The Arch”.

Graceful stainless steel stands 630 feet into the air, legs planted firm near the riverfront. On any pleasant, or hot, summer Saturday the bridal parties come to record the day in photos with trees, the Arch, or the Grand Stairs as backdrops.

They arrive by limo, private car, or horse-drawn carriage. The men look their best in black or gray tuxedos and the women wear long dresses in reds, blues, silver, black and other colors chosen by the white clad bride. A light breeze lifts veils, plays with wide skirts, and ruffles delicate bouquets.

Click! Click! The digital moment is frozen in time.

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The Morning After

One Friday night recently our city hosted a baseball game with their strongest rival.

That same Friday I concluded a meeting downtown a short time before the game ended. My light rail stop hosted only a pair of us for the route west. The next stop, outside of the baseball stadium, we collected enough subdued fans to comfortablely fill the car. I held my curousity close – dare I tap on on the shoulder and aske the score? Ignorance was good in this case – the home team lost and these were fans leaving early. The big rush would be following.

The next morning I return for the next portion of my meeting. I exit the light rail in the underground station four blocks from the hotel. I climb the steps, past the lone individual liquor bottle (it moved a few steps from yesterday) and through stale beer scented air to the sidewalk.

The fans celebrate – win or lose – when the Cardinals host the Cubs!


Rest Area

Rest area

Intense summer sun has given way to milder autumn light. Morning will dawdle and arrive a little tardy. Afternoon will hurry past, eager to visit a point to our West.

The little shelter remains offering shade and protection from the fall rain.

A pair of mothers wait at noontime, eager to hear the voices of their children after half day kindergarten. The bus squeeks to a halt. (Is there an unwritten rule that all school buses must have complaining brakes?) Students with excess energy dismount, greet the adults, and set off for home and afternoon adventures.

Some days I pause at the shelter to take in the contrasting view of busy street on one side, quiet residential entrance ninety degrees away. It’s just the spot I need to tie a shoe, catch my breath, or decide upon my route.