"Big Foot"? No.

A Tale of Two Yetis

As a STL city resident, it’s a quick drive from my house to the Missouri Botanical Garden, AKA, Shaw’s Garden. Going to the garden is one of my weekend rituals. It’s my sanctuary after grinding it for five consecutive days or more with my eyeballs glued to a monitor and my body the shape of an office chair. My friend calls it “the country club” because I have a membership and they serve wine at Sassafras Café—also part of my weekend ritual. Ok, to be honest, it’s not just the weekend for the wine…but if you know me personally, you already knew that.

My typical walk around the garden is about 2.5 miles, give or take. I’m a woman of routine and loosely superstitious, so my weekly tours include ringing the bells on the bell tree near the iris garden and walking the switchback cedar planks over the lake in the Japanese garden. I’ve made friends with the groundskeepers, volunteers and other regulars. I often have mental walks and conversations with my deceased family members and friends—it’s all part of my garden therapy. I can feel my mind and body uncoil as I take in the landscape which is 79 acres of rare trees and botanicals placed in thoughtfully planned scapes. Some of the best times are when I actually have someone walking with me and we can wax philosophy and talk about the awesomeness of the scenery of which we never tire—no matter how many times we’ve seen it. The beauty and life of the garden is a magnet and no one can resist its restorative power. Thank you so much, Henry.

On my way to the country club, I drive past several well-known St. Louis landmarks and neighborhoods. My typical route is HWY 44 east, exiting at Kingshighway. Last week I accidentally exited at Hampton so I decided to zigzag through The Hill, eventually traveling Shaw eastbound which dumps me at O’Connell’s Pub and the entrance to the Garden District.

At this point you’re wondering what does any of this have to do with Yeti’s or design for that matter? Here’s the thing: if you’re driving east on Shaw to get to the garden entrance you must drive past Gringo Jones Imports. If you’ve never been to Gringo Jones you’re missing out on an emporium of concrete stuff, metal sculptures and other fascinating what-not’s. It’s worthy of a visit outside of a trip to the garden because if you can imagine it (in concrete) then Gringo Jones has it. Among other things, they sell concrete animals, classic statuary, lantern holders, fountains and urns. At 20 MPH, you might have to slow down to notice the stone chicken…but make no mistake, you will not need to slow down to see the massive concrete Yeti who made his appearance on the sidewalk in July of 2015.

Yeti stands over 6 feet and weighs 2500 lbs. His feet are enormous—at least a men’s size 40. Photo NOT enlarged to show detail. Of course Yeti’s not just a Gringo Jones patio curiosity, he’s for sale and for $2800 you can take him home. He’s an intriguing spectacle and I’ve seen people taking selfies with him.

Seeing Yeti has become part of my ritual when visiting the garden and while I worry that he will be sold, I like to wonder about the type of person who will buy a Yeti and where they would put him. I thought he’d make a nice addition to my sister’s large yard in St. Charles, but damn—the price tag is a bit steep and I don’t know how I’d transport 1.25 tons of solid concrete in my Mazda even with the back seat down—although the tag on Yeti says delivery is available.

On a Sunday morning in late October as I was driving on Shaw toward the garden and ready to get my ritual glimpse of Yeti, I wondered if I’d put two contacts in one eye because standing next to Yeti was ANOTHER YETI. A mini version—sculpted in the same “concrete-in-motion” stance as Big Yeti with shoulders angled and furled brow tilted toward the street to watch the cars and pedestrians pass. Little Yeti has the same distinct features as Big Yeti but on a much smaller scale, and the price for LY is a value at $300. Seeing the two stand together though after these few weeks, it seems a shame to separate them. The large bone resting against the body of Big Yeti tells the story of their night wanderings together for food and adventure. Maybe Gringo Jones would strike a two-for-one deal?

In any case, next time you’re in the garden district, you need to stop by Gringo Jones and see the Yetis. Then you can say that you saw Big Foot in Missouri, and it becomes more than folklore. You might as well pay a visit to the country club while you’re there…it’s beautiful any day of the year.

Take care.



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