Thursday, April 23, 2009
Retreat, Refresh, Re-engage . . .
Getting away, even for a day or two, is a treat.
Last week, BH and I got away to St. Louis, but on our way we stopped in Lebanon, Illinois to have lunch at Dr. Jazz. If you've never been there, Lebanon is a charming small town (home of McKendree University) about 20 minutes from St. Louis. Dr. Jazz is a restaurant/ice cream parlor with wonderful food, small town atmosphere, and a real sense of fun. While we were there, we got to see a young man (probably around 14 years old) finish off a Dr. Jazz specialty, The Ice Cream Overdose: 12 scoops of ice cream with hot fudge, caramel, whipped cream, a variety of nuts, and a cherry. The menu offers it free if you finish it yourself in 30 minutes -- and he did, to the applause of everyone in the restaurant.
Dr. Jazz is a not-to-miss treat.
Once we got to St. Louis, we visited the Missouri History Museum to see the Gee's Bend quilts, and happened on two other interesting exhibits, one about Charles Lindbergh and the other about the St. Louis World's Fair. This museum is lovely, with an imposing statue of Thomas Jefferson to welcome you. The Gee's Bend quilts were striking, alive with color and texture. I think almost all of the quilts on exhibit were interpretations on the Housetop and Log Cabin patterns, and the variety, ingenuity, and creativity involved in their design was dazzling. The exhibit offers a free audio tour as well as an excellent video about Gee's Bend and its quilters.
The museum website offers a glimpse of all they have to offer. The website -- and, of course, the museum itself -- are well worth a visit.
We spent a morning walking through Mr. Shaw's garden, also known as the Missouri Botanical Garden. It's hard to tell what is most wonderful -- the fragrances of a variety of blooming things, or the colors of spring, or the birds flitting through the trees chirping and chattering, or the cool breeze on your cheek as you sit on a bench in the Japanese Garden, or the feel of any number of plants or trees you can't help but touch as you walk by.
We've been visiting this garden off and on since 1977, and it's one of my favorite places. We've watched the Japanese Garden mature, and the Victorian Garden develop from a few paths into a delightfully developed place to wander.
On this trip, Mr. Shaw's home, Tower Grove, was open to visitors so we went inside to see how he lived. We learned more about his life than we'd heard before, and were impressed with his courage, business savvy, and determination.
We found a new area for children, incorporating Missouri history, small pocket child-friendly gardens, and play areas for kids.
Throughout the garden we found stunning glass installations by Dale Chihuly -- herons in the Climatron, glass ornaments in the reflecting pool, and smaller pieces tucked away in surprising places.
We made time for a delicious (and reasonable) lunch in the Sassafras Cafe, then visited the St. Louis Herb Society's herb sale held near the Gift Shop. Like the Missouri History Museum, the Missouri Botanical Garden has an excellent website, where you can find everything you might want to know if you're planning a visit -- and I encourage you to plan a visit. Soon.
You won't be sorry!