Monthly Archives: August 2012

Feed Me!

At first glance they are a golden shimmer in the artificial lake.

It does not take long to get an identification on these panhandlers. Thanks to several coin operated dispensers many tourists and residents enjoying the day take a moment to feed the fish at Union Station.

They school toward the edge. White, yellow, and orange bends and flows into changing patterns. Living art?

These large, colorful carp have come a long way from the pair of goldfish we had in a bowl years ago.

Lunch?

Sunshine Splash

Metropolitan areas have citizens of all ages, sizes, and varities.

Individuals will be the first to come to mind. And then you have public entities like suburbs and villages long ago absorbed into the urban net. Religious organizations contribute architecture to the skyline and art to interior spaces. Educational institutions plan and build and plant to add beauty to their campus.

Not to be forgotten are good corporate citizens. You’ve seen them. The ones that landscape their grounds beyond the minimum zoning codes and participate in the life of the community.

Today’s fountain is located at a hospital campus. Geography and zoning may have prompted the formation of the pond while good citizenship and a sense of beauty polished it off.

Corporate Splash

Follow the Tracks

We left our little jaunt through the fountains of St. Louis in the cooling spray in front of Union Station. We’re going to board an invisible train and go west for our next stop.

Founded in 1853 as the first planned suburb west of the Mississippi river, Kirkwood, MO has roots in the railroad tracks. Railway engineer James Pugh Kirkwood did such a fine job of locating, surveying and building the rail line through the community that they named the town in his honor.

The railroad still runs numerous freight trains on the tracks and Amtrak pauses at the historic train station. So stay alert and listen up when driving through.

Our point of interest today is on the Plaza. Across the tracks and within site of the train station it’s a new development in the heart of this small city. Across the street is City Hall. Fronting the plaza are several restaurants below housing with a multistory garage behind to ease the parking situation.

The official name is Unity. Installed in 2006 it’s already witnessed joy and sorrow.  Let’s toast that it will assist in keeping the Kirkwood Community in Unity.

Unity’s Cup Runneth Over

A Grand Meeting

Great! Grand! Majestic!

When a river from the Great American West merges with the widening river from the north it’s an event. And a location with difficult access.

So inventive minds — of the same caliber that placed the City of St. Louis on a bluff to avoid a portion of the spring floods — celebrate the union of these two great rivers where the residents have opportunity to enjoy.

Imagine a wedding party. The Mississippi groom, riding on a huge catfish, welcomes his Missouri bride floating on a shell. Attendents for both trail behind on river creatures of various shapes and sizes. Now freeze it in time and bronze and place the entire ensemble in a large rectangular pool.

The official name is Meeting of the Waters.

Find it my walking due west from CityGarden. Pause at the Civil Courts, Police Memorial and Firefighters Mounument. Divert your steps to walk the Veterans Memorial and find a bench in a shady place for a drink of water. There it is! Across the street from Union Station.

Not your average Bride

Cooling Patio

Running Man pointed us west. We find ourselves walking down steps beside water cascading down to form a soothing backdrop for an ampitheater at the western end of Kiener Plaza.

A sliver of green space between the next two cross streets offers a escape from the cubicle for a brown bag lunch.

But I’m in search of water and I find it in CityGarden. Children play in a wading pool fed from water falling over a wall. Between outdoor sculpture pieces and little circles of flowers I hear laughter.

Water spurts toddler high and splashes in rythmn while children and adults run over the smooth surface. Races. Tag. Neither one has ever been as cool and refreshing – or wet – as on this little patch of Gateway Mall.

Cool Patio

Run, Run, Run

Run as fast as you can.  Run as long as you can.

You won’t catch him.

Well, maybe. Running Man, a public sculpture by William Zorach actually stays centered in his fountain pool. You’ll find him downtown in the eastern half of a two block area known as Kiener Plaza.

He’s a good citizen. Depending upon the occasion he runs between water naturally white or tinted red, pink, or blue for various charitable causes.

With a nice wide walkway and inviting benches surrounding him he encourages busy residents to take a break. And he’s kind to photographers. No matter the time of day you can find one portion of his circle with the correct light. And on my most recent visit, a Saturday, he furnished a pleasant splash background to a wedding party.

How do I find him?

Glad you asked. Remember the Arch standing guard over the St. Louis Riverfront? Walk west – the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial grounds (that’s a mouthful, no wonder we say Arch), extends and merges with the Gateway Mall. A finger of public space, mostly green that pokes into the city more than twenty blocks. You’ll find our runner just west of the Old Courthouse following the settlers with their new supplies.

Running Man headed West

Adopted City

Quick!  Name three things about St. Louis —

Got them?

How many named the Arch? Beer? Baseball?

Oh, come on — you missed baseball – the most recent World Series Champions? Are you from Texas?

One item I’m guessing you did not mention was fountains. The big city on the other side of Missouri claims the nickname “City of Fountains”. But we have our share in the metro area that holds down the east side of the state. What better way to celebrate the rivers in the area? My goodness – they empty into the Mississippi right and left – Illinois, Missouri, Meremac plus smaller streams and creeks.

Join me as I visit some of the fountains in my adopted city.

We’re starting at the downtown riverfront, looking east to Illinois on a recent Labor Day Weekend.

A sight to cool the tourist.

The Return

Waking early comes easy.

I tidy up my portion of the bunk room in quiet — our teen is still sleeping. Then I walk to the dining area. A few others are there, eating a cold breakfast and selecting fruit and chips for snacks on the homeward drive.

Clouds remain but at the moment it’s not raining. Everyone finishes their packing. I’m surprised that it takes less space than at the beginning. We carry things out to the vans and discover a new, temporary camp resident. A small black and white dog has slipped through the fence. He ignores the three cats – or maybe they do the ignoring – and poses for photos.

Double check. Wipe down the bunks. Stash camera and snacks within reach. Then it’s time for a group prayer, final checks for cell phones, and a decision to stop for first available fuel by the drivers.

Clouds. Interrmittent rain. Conditions are not good for photos as we roll across the causeway, the first small portion of the Interstate.

We’re a quiet group in our van. The driver and I stay awake, the other pair doze in varying amounts.

Texts fly back and forth. We pull off for a short break. Farewell Louisiana. We’re really on our way back to St. Louis.

A Mississippi welcome to Louisiana travelers.

Neighborhood Original

My walk does not bring me here often. It sits on the edge of what I consider my walking range.

The first time I didn’t believe it.

The second time I started making up stories. Shall we try a few?

Has it been in the same family for generations?

Each owner adds to the core, updates for modern living, gets surrounded by suburbia. The land shrinks from farm, to multiple lots, to a single corner yard.

I see the oldest room modern in a 1950’s sort of way with panelling in warm wood tones over a thin layer of insulation and minimal electric service.

Efficient modern appliances and multiple baths populate the newer additions.

Come on a rainy summer afternoon into the log living room. Plop a pillow on the braided rag rug and read “Little House on the Prairie” with me.

A house to dream in.