I frequently go to Forest Park from my studio about a mile north of it, wandering down allies and zig-zagging through streets made narrow or one-way in a conscious effort by the City of Saint Louis to slow traffic. The traffic lights are annoyingly long when trying to cross Lindell into the park, giving priority to those traveling on the east/west axis and glowering at the rest of us.
My destination was the northeast corner of the park, near the statue of Frank Preston Blair, Jr., one of St. Louis’ most notable defenders of the Union Cause. I parked there on the side of Grand Drive, along with the construction workers and joggers, and strolled toward Murphy Lake. The doughty oaks, the lithesome maples, the delicate dogwoods along with redbuds, elms and others, were covered with the glow of early spring and the relationship of leaf and tree appealed to my eye.
Down by the north side of Murphy Lake (it actually qualifies as a mere pond), I found a crew of enthusiastic workers digging out the pampas grasses that lined the water’s edge.
“Invasive species.” Susan, the Forest Park Forever overseer in command of the project informed me. I don’t mean to give the impression that she is laconic, as she was quite informative, friendly and pleasant with me, explaining the varieties that would be planted where pampas once ruled, and how that would benefit park goers. I was impressed.
A bit further west of where the pampas killers hacked and dug, I found the star of Bethlehem, right here, in the city of the French King.