Turns out it was no hallucination, just an elaborate diorama running down two aisles of the Marlborough supermarket. Parents who bring their children along to shop at the store know that the kids will be riveted by the plastic, paper, foam and papier-mâché fruits and veggies, smiling and dancing the day away. The watermelon elephant, the potato holding a trophy aloft (for defeating Dan Quayle, maybe?), the dive-bombing plane piloted by a banana and all their buddies can be found just above the organic/natural foods section.
But wait, there's more! This jubilant produce is a mere backdrop for an electric toy train that runs through much of the store. The choo-choo passes the ears of corn floating up in a hot-air balloon and the cow riding a bucking loaf of raisin bread before it crosses a long trestle and enters the fruit aisle. Here children will find a teddy-bear village and an itty-bitty fruit stand, cow pasture, cornfield and dairy, with tiny people and livestock re-enacting the struggles of the American family farmer for your viewing pleasure (8400 Watson Road, 314-843-7848, www.sappingtonfarmersmkt.com). -- Byron Kerman
And Orion's knees
Telescopes -- they're not just for peeping Toms anymore. Apparently, a group of white-coated, shy fellows known as "scientists" use them to gain something called "knowledge" -- well, who knew?
Children, who are as a rule brimming with questions, love to look through telescopes and get some knowledge of their own. How big is the sun? What is that star there? Where did we all come from? (Maybe that peeping-Tom idea wasn't so bad....)
The St. Louis Astronomical Society offers Scoping Out Telescopes, a discussion of which telescope you might want to consider for your particular needs. Parents shopping for Junior's first telescope might want to know which one would be most welcome under the Christmas tree. Or the Hanukkah bush. Or the Kwanzaa shrub. You get the idea. (7-8:30 p.m., St. Louis Science Center, 5050 Oakland Avenue, $15; call 314-289-4424 for reservations.) -- Byron Kerman