Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about St. Louis.
Why? Well, several close friends of mine happen to be dating men who have all decided they’d rather not call this fair city home. I love these friends and their respective boyfriends and I mean no offense to them at all, but I’d like to take a moment to simply state my case.
After a recent “So and so doesn’t want to live in St. Louis or the Midwest” conversation (The Midwest? Really? That’s a lot of states, people!) I thought about St. Louis for a good, long hour.
I spent this hour riding my bike around Forest Park. I live right near Forest Park in a lovely, neighborhood between Skinker and DeMun. On my way to the bike path, I pass Concordia Seminary on my left and DeMun Park on my right. On that particular day, a Mom and Toddler group had congregated in the Park and people were walking their dogs on the rolling lawn of the seminary.
Just down the street is the original Kaldi’s coffee house, selling fresh, sustainable foods and coffees on their sunny patio.
Once I reached Forest Park I rode onto the bike route, becoming just one of the many St. Louisans who cross paths here each evening to exercise. These are friends, marathoners, weight watchers, Wash U or SLU students, old people, families with babies, picnicers, walkers and readers. We all like it here.
On my bike ride I passed Art Hill, the museums, Steinbergs and the Science Center. I rode over bridges with trickling creeks. There is a willow tree I love to look at in any season. I had to slow down at one point, to let a snowy white egret make it’s way across the path. Did you know that there is a pair of great horned owls who make the park their nest and home?
Great horned owls. Snowy egrets. Wooded paths that wind and twist through trees and wildflowers and great, cultural institutions tucked into nearly every corner. All just five minutes from downtown.
From my happy, little neighborhood I can drive five minutes in one direction and see a Cardinal’s game. Fifteen minutes in the other, I can make it home for dinner with Mom and Dad.
I know that moving away to a far off city on the East/West coast seems glamorous and exciting. I know that moving back to where you came from in this day in age seems, well, lame. But there is something to be said for loving and living in your hometown. And you know what? I like it here.
I know we have had a particularly bloody and violent summer. I know that this violence has even, just this week, spread to my favorite park. I’m not naive. This is not Camelot, Mayberry or Narnia. It is a real, true city, with it’s own issues and dangers, I know.
But maybe what this city needs are young, passionate people. People who will work hard and give back to this town, while still taking what they can and enjoying it.
And trust me, there is a lot to take and enjoy. There are so many free fun things to do in St. Louis. The Art Museum! History Museum (Twilight Tuesday concerts, anyone?)! So many parks, Muny shows, concerts, arts, festivals! And, of course, a world class, free Zoo.
I know this city isn’t perfect. For god’s sake, the intersection of Lindell and Skinker smells awful. Awful! Don’t ever linger there.
But George Vierheller, Director of the Saint Louis Zoo from 1922-1962, once said, “There are two things a lively city needs–a good zoo and a good baseball team.”
And, friends, there you have it. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
I rest my case.
For further proof on the wonderfulness of St. Louis, check out this video below. The two minute mark even features the homing pigeon release at our own Children’s Zoo Farm Show! Enjoy.