Before there were cans

Yesterday afternoon I walked around Forest Park in St. Louis, and today, I went to Horseshoe Lake Park in Illinois. However, on the way today, I spotted a Pumpkin Patch festival and had to stop to check it out. Which is my way of saying I have a few photos to share. (More will be posted to Tinfoil Project).

It has been a disappointing fall, for the leaf color just isn’t going to be there this year. Too dry too late, and the weather continues slightly sultry. I may be able to get some color in the Ozarks at the end of the month, but it’s not going to be as vivid as the colors were last year.

I looked all around Forest Park yesterday for some Fall color, knowing that you and I would both be disappointed by my not finding something bright and cheerful and just saturated by rich hues. However, about the only spot of bright color I ran into was in the bridesmaids dresses of a wedding party having their photos taken at the Park. It was a pretty color, too –like the deep red/orange of a new fall leaf. Everywhere I went, I seemed to meet up with the same wedding party of bride in fancy white dress, groom and groom’s men in black, and the bride’s maids in their lovely scarlet frocks. I remember thinking to myself the photographer must be a terror to have them whip around from place to place so quickly.

It was when I was wandering around the Great Basin area, with the fountains and the lake, and the very picturesque bridges that I discovered the truth. Towards the west was what I thought was the wedding party I had been seeing, including the ladies in their lovely frocks. However, towards the east, I could see another wedding party and the ladies in this party were also wearing red. They were having pictures taken on one of the bridges and I could see waiting behind them another wedding party, and the maids in it were also wearing red. It was a variation, true. The first party’s ladies wore a rusty red; the second wore more of a ruby red; and the last a bright apple red. But red, nonetheless. What are the odds?

I was standing there, marveling at how similar all of these wedding parties were when I noticed another limo bus pulling up, with another wedding party. The door opened, and I held my breath. It couldn’t be. It just couldn’t be. Then I spotted a bright flash of color as satin spilled out of the door.

Red! Arrggghhh!

Later as I thought about all of these weddings and the brides and their choices of what must be the popular color this Fall, and how even this pretty color lost its appeal when repeated over and over. A nice reminder that every autumn photo doesn’t have to be brilliant orange, scarlet, and yellow to be special; and I need not stop and take a photo of every orange butterfly sitting on a purple flower.

Did I happen to mention that I have long legs? And no, I’m not that oddly shaped — I was wearing a jacket and carrying a camera bag. The head is mine, though.

However, that’s not to say that I’m going to walk away from color, and that’s why I enjoyed my visit to the Pumpkin Patch. It was held on a farm along Highway 111 on the way to Horsehoe Lake, and it seemed to be quite a party. There was live country music, and a haunted petting zoo–a haunted petting zoo, can you dig it?– as well as a corn castle, and hay slide. This in addition to the more traditional tractor pull, horse drawn carriage, and hayride.

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There was also a few other rides, but simple small fair stuff.

People could buy already harvested pumpkins and squash, or could pick their own. The ones in the field seemed pretty picked over, but I noticed that there were some nice pumpkins that were just set around, detached from the vines. I figured the farm must seed the field each day of the festival so there’s always good pumpkins in the field. A clever trick, and no harm to the act.

Today I saw my first silver colored pumpkin. I’ve seen white ones before, but silver?

From there it was only ten minutes to the lake. It’s more popular than I like, but enough space to allow one time to oneself. I was particularly taken with was the beautiful blue water in some areas and the green algae close to shore in others. I also rather liked the dead trees that had fallen into the lake. There’s something esthetically pleasing about these trees–a bittersweet beauty in their graceful, bare, limbs. They remind me of Audrey Hepburn.

Fishing is popular in this lake and there were several fishermen out when I was there. I watched one pull a fish from the lake, pull it off the line, toss it on to the grass with others, before re-baiting his hook and throwing the line back in–in one smooth motion. Takes years of fishing to get that proficient, but a lot of people depend on the local fish, and game, for their meat.

There’s an island that can be reached by a built-up ridge intersecting the water. The hike I followed was on this island and was supposed to be 2 miles, but after the Pumpkin Patch, I was already tired and the distance seemed longer. It was also quite warm, though a lovely breeze was blowing. Not many birds this time of day, but lots of grasshoppers and other insects. I watched heron in the lake, but didn’t get close enough for any decent photo.

About half way around I met two older ladies out walking their dogs, and we ended up chatting as I petted their pups. They lived in Illinois but had just spent several weeks traveling across the northern part of the states to Maine and back. They were so delighted by their trip that I kept asking them questions about it, just to hear them talk.

In Maine or Michigan, I’m not sure which, they had picked blueberries from bushes and had them for their breakfast, and I gather this was their first time exposed to blueberries in the wild. Both kept talking about grabbing handfuls of blueberries, and how they tasted so much better than anything they’d had before.

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Isn’t it wonderful to meet people who take such a delight from such an simple activity? I grew up in an area where huckleberries grew wild and we would pick them every year; even then, I could identify with these ladies–picking berries and then putting them directly on your pancakes for a late morning breakfast is an immensely satisfying experience.

About like going out to a pumpkin patch for your own Halloween pumpkin. Or catching your fish directly from a lake. Sure beats going to K-Mart or the Mall.