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10-March-2021

Three Flags Day has come and gone again, without much fanfare. March 10th is the birthday of Saint Louis, which is possibly the most fascinating city on the planet. Three Flags Day is the day three flags flew over Saint Louis, in succession, as the Louisiana Purchase passed to America from France. Saint Louis was under Spanish jurisdiction at the time. On March 10, 1804, first the Spanish, then the French, then the American flag were hoisted in succession over Saint Louis.

Remember Aaron Burr, who shot Alexander Hamilton? Shortly after that dastardly deed, Aaron Burr hatched a conspiracy with the Saint Louis governor to take Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mexico, AND the Louisiana Purchase, to create a new empire, installing the brilliant Theodosia as empress. As often happens, the seditionists lost their nerve, the conspiracy fell apart and Aaron Burr ran off into Indian territory, never to be heard from again.

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Speaking of little known stories, check out this movie about Toussaint Louverture. Known as the “Black Napolean” from Haiti, Louverture single-handedly stopped the french Napolean from sailing ships straight up the Mississippi River to set up camp in Saint Louis. We owe our very democracy to this brave fellow, and more people need to know about him and Three Flags Day in Saint Louis.

These two stories are little gems, and can be found in this 1960s book of Saint Louis history written by Ernest Kirschten, an editorial writer for the Saint Louis Post Dispatch. See why it’s important to read books? There’s treasure hidden inside the books!

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Here’s the opening quote in the above book:

“We may be through with the past, but the past is not through with us.” – Bergen Evans.

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Saint Louis has long been a battleground,

and somehow the battle ultimately tilts towards the light.

If history is written by the victors,

then let’s go looking for Three Flag Day adventures,

and keep historic victories alive.

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If you know of a “Three Flags Day” adventure,

please post below!

2021-March-06

Mark your calendars on March 6th for a Harriet & Dred Scott adventure hunt; the Old Courthouse in downtown Saint Louis is a good starting point. March 6th is the anniversary of the preposterous Supreme Court decision in 1857 that decided “Any person descended from Africans, whether enslaved or free, is not a citizen of the United States.”

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For every action there is a reaction — the Supreme Court got it wrong and reaction to that judgement helped spark the Civil War. Your destination is the Harriet & Dred Scott sculpture that faces the Arch and the Mississippi River. It’s sitting on a slave auction site.

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The Old Courthouse in Saint Louis is a very majestic building and stands a living temple to the Rule of Law. It’s modeled after the Vatican and was built at the same time as the US Capitol in Washington. It’s free to visit and important for children to do so. Enter through front doors and explore the exhibits; kids especially like the underground railroad and finding the secret staircases that lead up to the top of the cupola. Here’s a previous adventure guide with clues on how best to do that:

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The Old Courthouse is incredibly grand and worthy of many repeat visits. Don’t forget to say hello to Harriet Scott, Lucy Delaney and Frankie Freedom on your way into the building, as women are often behind many successful struggles for freedom.

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Not far from the Old Courthouse is the home of Dred Scott’s lawyer, who was Eugene Field’s father, Roswell Field. Eugene Field was a poet who became famous for his children’s poems, notably Wynken, Blinken and Nod. Eugene Field loved toys, so the Field House also houses a toy collection and interesting toy exhibits.

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The Field Museum is located near the Old Courthouse but too far to walk; it’s fun to visit during the holidays to enjoy the home in full seasonal splendor, and maybe to pick up an old-fashioned wind-up toy to add to your collection.

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The tour of the home is quite interesting, but more suited for older children as are the changing exhibits, including the exhibits on Dred Scott and Saint Louis history. It’s sort of dear to know that Saint Louis children collected pennies to help save this historic home for posterity.

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Your third destination on the Harriet and Dred Scott adventure hunt is Calvary Cemetery, where Dred Scott and Harriet Scott are buried. Their grave-sites were hard to find in the past, and can still be hard to find, which makes it a worthy adventure hunt. Dred Scott’s new gravestone makes the hunt a little easier. See section 19 on the Calvary Map:

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Many people bring pennies to leave as an offering; place them Abe Lincoln side up!

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March 6th is a great day to go on a Harriet and Dred Scott adventure hunt, or any day for that matter. They say Saint Louis is the most fascinating city in America, it’s also an important city, a historic city, a legendary city. Be sure to bring your pennies with you and then share the wealth with others.

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Speaking of pennies, there’s a penny drive to help pay off the balance of the Harriet and Dred Scott statue recently installed near the Old Courthouse. There are 22 more sites you can visit on your Harriet & Dred Scott adventure hunt!

Dred Scott Heritage Foundation

22-Feb-2020

In the wake of “frozen Texas hellscape week”,

here’s a map of the Saint Louis energy grid:

Energy Matters

This map was created in 2019 and fact-checked by the League of Women Voters.

It went out to 55,000 voters in early 2020.

They say Texan Voters shouldn’t have to know about their energy grid, but let’s politely disagree!

It’s important to know how your house is heated and where your electricity comes from.

Here’s a decoder guide for those curious to learn more…

Please feel free to download and share the map and decoder page as you wish.

Also! Be sure to update your notes now that America will be rejoining the Paris Climate Accord.

Energy Matters!

Viola! The first French story-map of Saint Louis in over 100 years, according to the Saint Louis History Museum.

After many field trips and much research, this map was created with the help of an 8th grade French teacher who likes to take students on local field trips. You can still visit many of these sites during the pandemic!

The journey begins at ​Laclede’s Landing where the streets are still cobblestone and the signs are still in French. This marks the spot of the first French trading village built by french fur trader Pierre Laclede​. It is here that the future city of Saint Louis was named in honor of ​King Louis IX of France.

French culture is firmly embedded in the architecture of Saint Louis, as evidenced by ​City Hall​, a replica of the Hotel de Ville (city hall) in Paris, noted for its beauty and lighting. Here’s the very beautiful Hotel de Ville in Paris:

Powell Symphony Hall is modeled after the palace at Versailles; a beautiful stained glass window can be found at ​St. Francis Xavier Church and Union Station is modeled after a french fortress. A renowned mosaic panel of King Louis IX can be somewhat safely explored during covid times in the vestibule at the ​Saint Louis Basilica​. (Buy the small booklet in the bookshop to enhance your appreciation and enjoyment).

The ​Fleur de Lis​, symbol of french monarchy, was added to the ​Saint Louis flag in 1964 and it’s fun to hunt for fleur de lis motifs springing up with increasing frequency throughout Saint Louis. Potagers​ (“kitchen gardens”) and ​mansard​ ​roofs​ can be found throughout the city.

Soulard hosts the second largest ​Mardi Gras​ in America, and ​Let Them Eat Art​ springboards from “Let them eat Cake”. ​Left Bank Books​ is named after that famous arrondissement in Paris that is filled with bookshops, thinkers and writers.

A vibrant number of language classes and cultural events can be found at ​Alliance Francaise​, while a French film festival is traditionally hosted in February by Webster University’s ​Centre Francophone​. The historic ​Chatillon-DeMenil House​ hosts a Bastille Day Celebration each year on July 14th. French colonial homes are preserved by the​ Les Amis​ organization, which also publishes a map on the​ Creole Corridor​.

Croissants, macaroons, crepes and traditional french cuisine can be found throughout Saint Louis, as well as chocolates by ​Bissingers​, a favorite chocolatrie of empress Josephine.

All french wines owe a debt to Missouri vineyards, due to the ​phylloxera​ bug which destroyed the entire French vineyard crop in 1863, after which vines from Missouri were grafted onto French vine stock. On a nice day, it’s fun to take a champagne picnic out to Calvary Cemetery where the famous french fur trappers are buried. (By the way, Trader Joes has fantastic croissants in the freezer section.)

If you need a hug during these challenging pandemic days, Green Spiral has these “French Lover” pillows available for about $35. You can order them on Zazzle or pick one up at the Green Spiral offices near the Lion Gates in UCity. Just send a note to GreenSpiralTours@gmail.com

Or buy them on Zazzle to have one shipped to your home:

https://www.zazzle.com/french_lover_pillow_saint_louis-256152131763424292

Here’s the zazzle link if you want to buy 5×7 note-cards:

https://www.zazzle.com/z/juosq8xd

Love your City & Vive Saint Louis!

The City of Sparkling Lights

21-June-2020

Be a Berry Good Leader

Remember that classic children’s book “Blueberries for Sal”? Maybe we should write a new book – Blueberries for Sam!

Blueberries for Sam

When the Fourth of July rolls around, it’s time to mix red berries with blue by turning your thoughts to blueberry picking. Here’s an easy cake you can make with berries from your very own garden someday.

Blueberries for Uncle Sam

Good luck, bad luck, who knows? When Green Spiral Tours started in 2008, it was hard to find even a few families willing to skip school to pick strawberries; but twelve years later, strawberry picking is now so popular it requires reservations, — so we shift our gaze to blueberries.

Yum

Blueberry picking is a wonderful inter-generational activity because it’s an activity not too tall for youngsters and not too low to the ground for grandparents. It’s also something you can do that honors social distancing during the pandemic.

Better Together

Unfortunately, there are fewer blueberry picking locations than strawberry picking locations. (Entrepreneurial Alert! We need more urban u-pick berry farms!) In the age of covid-19, farms are now booking on-line reservations.

Watch the Wind Ridge Farm web-site for their next u-pick date, and jump on it when it appears.

https://www.windridgefarm.net/Pickingupdate/Pickingupdate.htm

Overview from Shadow Carver on Google

Here’s a run-down of other locations for your general future knowledge:

Babb Blueberry Farm in Beufort – Babb Blueberry Farm is run by a lovely couple who uses organic fertilizers, and no pesticides or herbicides. They also sell frozen blueberries and homemade jam and have an AirBnB near the lake. Located one hour west from the Arch along I-44, this is a small family operation with nice restrooms, a fishing pond and excellent hospitality. Bring a picnic lunch. Or, stop for lunch in Eureka, Pacific or at the Junie Moon Cafe in Union along the way. Babb Blueberry Farm keeps up on their Facebook posts, but always call before you go.

NOTE: In 2020 they were hit with late season frosts and lost 80% of their crops. So no more blueberry picking this year.

GPS: 2751 Highway 50, Beaufort, MO 63013 * (636) 667-1171

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Farmers Markets of Saint Louis – Berries are popular items at farmers markets and sell out quickly. There is no apostrophe in “farmers markets”, because it is literally a market for farmers, plural. Farmers Markets are business incubators, and at the core, farming is a business. If you want to support the local food movement, head for your local farmers market.

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Ozark Berry Farm – This farm offers blueberry, blackberry and elderberry picking from mid-June to mid-July. U-pick is by appointment, and is already sold out for 2020.
https://www.ozarkberryfarm.com/
552 Lick Creek Rd, Leasburg, MO 65535

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Thies Farm – The Thies family has been farming in Missouri since 1885 and now has three locations. Blueberries grown by Thies Farm can be purchased at their stores on location at the North Hanley, Maryland Heights and St. Charles location. By the way, the way to pronounce Thies Farm is like this: “TEES Farm”. Their online communications are sometimes confusing due to all the different locations. It’s best to call them by phone.

GPS: 4215 North Hanley Road, 63121 *(314) 429 – 5506 *
GPS: 3120 Maryland Heights Expressway; 63146 * (314) 469-7559 *
GPS: 3200 Greens Bottom Road St. Charles, MO 63304 * (636) 447-2230 *

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Wind Ridge Farms in New Melle – This family farm offers wagon rides for kids plus blueberry, blackberry and peach picking. It’s a bit of a drive from Saint Louis, but well worth it. By the way, peaches and blueberries are delicious together when served with a splash of cream.

Wind Ridge Farm is offering blueberry picking by appointment this year, so watch their web-site for the next date and “jump on it like a duck on a june-bug”, as they say.

Located one hour west of the Arch, along 40/64 just past Weldon Springs.
GPS: 3511 Highway F, New Melle 63341 * (636) 828-5900

Here’s that link again: https://www.windridgefarm.net/Pickingupdate/Pickingupdate.htm

Enjoy the wild rumpus!

June 2020

Fly Away Home

Graduating? Need a hug? How about a pillow that encodes all the good things to be found while growing up in Saint Louis?

Love Your City

Created as a fundraiser for The Nook, this pillow celebrates all good things about Saint Louis, including America’s #1 zoo, America’s #1 Botanical Gardens and the #1 playground for kids of all ages at the Citymuseum. Who says Saint Louis is fly over country?

We Love the Pink Duckie Race!

Citygarden might be America’s best childrens’ garden while Forest Park is America’s most beautiful urban park, complete with free Art Museum and Science Center. Needless to say, Saint Louis is home to the best fans in baseball. Need we say more. #PlayGloria

Who’s home to the “King of Beers” as well as a very vibrant craft beer scene? Who popularized the ice cream cone, plus invented iced tea, pixie stix, listerine and the hot dog? Local merchants often win craft chocolate awards and put us on the national chocolate map. In short, Saint Louis invented all the best teenager food, which is encoded on the story-map.

Home of Great Writers

“The end is where we start from”, and Saint Louis is home to many of America’s greatest writers including T.S. Eliot, Tennessee Williams and Maya Angelou. The young people will write the next chapter in American history and then we’ll make a new story-map!

We are the birthplace of kindergarten in America as well as the cradle of rock-n-roll. The Mississippi River and Route 66 run right through Saint Louis carrying with it American music and the hope of a new day. What’s not to love?

Plus! We have some of the best tasting tap water in the country. Young people don’t figure that out until they go away and taste the difference.

As they say, “if you don’t know where you’re coming from, you can’t know where you’re going”, and these pillows are a positive reminder of where kids come from. You can choose to believe the media despair about Saint Louis or you can trust your very own eyes and look to the bright side, (or at least hold a more balanced view). Let these pillows become a token of all the love and light created by so many good people working hard to make Saint Louis a wonderful place to grow up.

The pillows are for sale on Zazzle and are perfect for your high school graduate dorm rooms, car trips or camping adventures. They are 16″ x 12″ and about the size of a large book. The cover is removable and washable.

Like Vista Print, Zazzle is a print-on-demand fulfillment center that operates by discount, so the price range varies but hovers around $30. Zazzle rarely makes mistakes, and when they do they fix them, so order with confidence and Green Spiral will guarantee your purchase.

Here’s the link for the pillow. Enjoy the goodness and let the wild rumpus begin!

Log date: 2020-May

The Bird Sanctuary at Blackburn Park is a fantastic family field trip and here’s a new map not in our book of adventure maps. Put kids in duck boots, bring a snack and perhaps a toy sailboat. This is a fairly short and sweet adventure.

Blackburn Park is located in Webster Groves. Park at the parking lot on E. Jackson and look for the rainy day girl sculpture in the downhill corner of the park. Follow the path uphill towards the entrance of the Bird Sanctuary.

Singing in the Rain

Research your Missouri birds and Phoebe Snetsinger before you go, or just read the sign at the entrance of the Bird Sanctuary. All paths lead downhill, so go right or go left, and come back the other way to make a grand loop.

All paths lead downhill

Not too far down is a darling spring and a calm little pool. If it’s raining or it just rained the pool will be full.

Magical Spring

Hop on the rocks and explore the spring, the pool and the creek. Follow the creek to the next pool. Wander around and explore.

Save a little energy to return back up the hill to where you started at the entrance to the Bird Sanctuary. From here, you can cross the open soccer fields to explore the sink holes which are described in our book.

All paths lead uphill

All parks are great for all weather and all days, but Green Spiral particularly likes the Bird Sanctuary for a spring splash and the sinkholes for a fall treasure hunt.

Sanctuary for kids too!

ICYMI – Here’s our book on Amazon: ten family adventure maps for ten different months. The Blackburn fall treasure hunt map is in this book. Enjoy your adventure and let us know what you think.

Let the wild rumpus begin!

This essay was published in the Healthy Planet

during the pandemic

and focuses on nature as the best playground:

I’m going to make a bold hypothesis:

Saint Louis has the best playgrounds on the planet.

photo by Randy Allen

Let’s start with Forest Park.

Much bigger than Central Park in New York

or Golden Gate Park in San Francisco,

it’s America’s most beautiful urban park.

Forest Park is a natural playground all its own,

even without the gigantic new children’s play-scape

currently under construction.

Any tour of America’s most amazing play spaces must include

the City Museum.

It’s so out-of-the-box it defies definition,

except as an adult playground,

which is a ridiculous thing to say but arguably true.

Adult Playground?

Citygarden,

(not originally designed as a children’s playground),

has become a magnet for children of all ages.

When viewed as a children’s playscape,

it blows Millennial Park in Chicago out of the water.

We Love the Flamingo Festival and Pink Duckie Race!

Throw in the children’s garden at the Missouri Botanical Gardens,

the new ropes course at Union Station and the Magic House,

and these anchor institutions alone

put Saint Louis on the map of best playgrounds.

Muckerman’s Children’s Fountain at TGP

Now turn your attention towards Turtle Park,

Rocket Ship Park,

the Children’s Fountain at Tower Grove Park,

plus inclusive playgrounds at

Tilles Park,

Forest Park

and Zachary’s Playground.

Does not the mosaic of great playgrounds come into focus?

To Infinity…. and beyond!

Simply put,

Saint Louis has both a density and a diversity

of creative playgrounds.

Follow the White Rabbits

Saint Louis is like a grand old lady who loves her children.

She throws her heart into the wide open spaces,

has the imagination to fill those spaces with surprises

and the pocketbook to keep them super fancy.

Grand Old Lady

I enjoy nature travel and believe our gateway city is home

to the most creative playgrounds on the planet.

But how do we quantify this rather bold hypothesis?

Walk this way…

Let’s encourage families to make adventure maps

of the places in parks

beyond the playground tape.

Make your map!

It’s something you can do

while maintaining social distancing

and pondering a rather bold hypothesis.

It also draws attention to the fact

that nature is the greatest adventure playground.

Beyond the Playground Tape…

Let’s prove that Saint Louis has the most creative playscapes on the planet —

or at least enjoy finding out.

Buy our book if you need help getting started.

We worked really hard on it

and it took us a long time to make it.

We hope you like it.

Take your friends

Here’s the link on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1542349230?tag=duckduckgo-ffnt-20&linkCode=osi&th=1&psc=1

Curated by Angela Wildermuth

Maps by Jessie Hoagland

Published by Green Spiral Tours

Let the wild rumpus begin!

Here’s a sample map:

Angela Wildermuth is a freelance nature teacher and the curator of the Urban Wild adventure maps. You can follow her or join small group nature camps during the pandemic summer at www.urbanwildstl.com

Tinkergarten is also running nature camps during the pandemic summer. You can find them or train to become a Tinkergarten teacher at: https://tinkergarten.com

Log Date: 2019-May-28

Fly Away 2019-05-15 COLOR

Saint Louis is a magical world for children and a wonderful place to grow up. This map invokes formative childhood memories of Saint Louis and celebrates teenage touchstones and interests.

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Turns out, Saint Louis has invented a lot of teen-friendly foods.  First you make the map, and then the map tells you what you see.  You never know what that might be!

Here’s the story guide that goes along with the “Fly Away Home” map:

Fly Away Home Story JPG

Loyal fans and followers are welcome to download and printout the story and map for personal use.  If you’d like a small poster, there is a limited number available at The Nook, a gift and gathering space in Ladue that benefits St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Nook Advert 2019-05-28 WEW JPG

You can also be the first to buy these adorable pillows from Zazzle and send your student off with hugs from home.

The pillows are 16″ x 12″ and have the “Fly Away Home” image on the front plus a quote from our great poet T.S. Eliot on the back: “The end is where we start from.”

 

Pillow from Zazzle -1

Pillow from Zazzle -2

Here’s the link for the pillows, they are priced at around $30.

Fly Away Home Graduation Pillows

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It’s fun to watch Saint Louis fall in love with itself, and if you’re like me, or Ferris Bueller, you know that life moves pretty fast, and you have to stop and look around once in a while. If you don’t you just might miss it.  #FlyAwayHome

 

20-July-2018

Blog by Angela Wildermuth, Nature Guide and creator of Urban Wild Adventures

2018-07-20 Wild Blackberries

Some brambles of wild blackberries were discovered along Grants Trail in south county last week.  GPS Directions: Park at the parking lot at 3900 Reavis Barracks Rd – this is the “Gravois Greenway” parking lot. Head north on grants trail for maybe 1/4 of a mile. Look for blackberries along the left hand side.

The Blackberries had thorns – lots! The kids quickly learned how to carefully and slowly go in for a pick. Along the way we also discovered ripe wild grapes! The leaves were slightly sour but tender, and the grapes had the same sweetish-sourish flavor with crunchy little seeds inside.  How cool to see grapes in their non-cultivated, non- altered “original” form! They are tiny!!!

2018-07-20 Stepper Helper

Stepping stools were very handy. On arrival to the blackberry brambles, we soon realized that the animals and birds aren’t the only ones we needed to beat to the berries  – other humans knew about these berries too! One older man was there with scratches along his arms who said he’d been picking at this spot for 70 yrs!  Luckily, he left some low berries for the kids to pick.

We were out for about an hour. The sun was pretty low so it wasn’t too hot, and everyone felt satisfied with a little loot and an educationally good time too. Next July -keep your eyes open! There always seems to be something edible fruiting in the summer!

2018-07-20 Angela eats grapes

What you can do:

Keep your eyes open and be curious about wild edibles.

Follow Angela at Urban Wild Adventures for future adventures.

Ask your Parks and Recreation Department to plant edibles like plum trees, blackberries, herbs and wild grapes.  Inquire about spraying and herbicide policies.

Buy our book, Urban Wild Adventures, which includes ten adventure maps to ten popular parks in Saint Louis, along with clues about where to find native edibles. The book is curated by Angela Wildermuth and illustrated by Jessie Hoagland.  Angela’s last name means “Wild Spirit” in German.

 

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