I was worried. At first I found them amusing, the pack of fourth graders, shrieking and shouting, that disturbed the relative peace of America’s premier urban park. Any group of humans can turn vicious, but I wasn’t expecting to be hounded by school children. Still, it seemed what ever direction I took, they followed. It wasn’t until I traipsed across the burned grasses in the Steinberg wild area that they elected to leave me alone. Perhaps it was too messy, perhaps too stinky (the pungent aroma of recent fire permeated the air), but it worked.
It was there, by the water where my allergy to loud children had driven me, that I saw the wood ducks. They may be the same pair I spied earlier this month; unlike 2009, there just aren’t a lot of them in the park. But I did manage to get some photos of them. The drake kept a close eye on me, but the female (known simply as a duck) seemed totally unperturbed by my presence. There were a lot of mollusk shells there by the waters edge, a sign that muskrats, usually plentiful in the park, had been there. That and the burrow holes.
There are many memorials in Forest Park, and today, toward the end of my walk, I happened across one of them It says, simply “In Memoriam, Connie Rosenbaum, 1946 – 1974. My curiosity piqued, I looked her up and discovered there is a Connie Rosenbaum award with which the St. Louis Press Club honors local journalists of accomplishment. She was 22 years old when she was assaulted and shot by St. Louis Police officer Milton Brookins, also known as the “phantom rapist.” She survived to testify against Brookins, and he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the 18 rapes that police were able to document, but Connie Rosenbaum took her own life five years after the attack.