Yes, it is a challenge finding time to go exploring in Forest Park every day, particularly when it is wet and cold. Today was not as cold nor as wet as it is predicted to be this weekend, but it was still both, conditions of which I am not very fond. The challenge, however, is the constant creation of art, discovery of the new hidden in the familiar, and the practice of the seeing.
You have noticed, haven’t you, that looking is not the same as seeing? We definitely will not find if we do not seek. So it was with this in mind that I left the comfort of my heated room and ventured into the discomfort of the urban wilderness. Today I parked near my old friend General Franz Sigel and his horse. It’s a great statue, by the way. It makes the man that fellow Union General John Pope, a man not particularly known for his bravery or skill, reputedly called “the God damndest coward he ever knew” look rather dashing. Walk to the front of the statue for the Union view of the general, and to the back for the Confederate view. It is interesting to note that Generals Pope and Sigel both made the list of Worst Military Leaders of the Civil War.
The area I wandered today is called the Deer Lake Savannah, a mostly open, grassy area with a rather swampy character most of the year. I walked to the edge of the shallow waters by Grand Drive near Union and watched the wind ruffle its surface and sway the grasses that surround it. This is the area that was the subject of the first controlled burn in Forest Park a few years ago. It took quite a bit of hydrocarbons to fuel that burn, and even with all the help it did not result in a very impressive fire.
I stayed by the water until I heard a peeping sound from behind me and turned to investigate. That was when I discovered the Downy Woodpecker cheerfully announcing his presence as he hopped on a nearby tree. He was an accommodating little fellow, allowing me to come quite close, a necessity for good photos.
I spent the next 45 minutes wandering the area, stepping in puddles, catching glimpses of wee birds and thinking how useful a blind would be in photographing the illusive creatures of America’s greatest urban park. Tomorrow, if the weatherman is to be believed, more snow!