Let's everybody drop all the arguments pro and con, and agree -- for a second, for the hell of it -- that there is a Supreme Being. That said, this ultimate enigma would have to be accepted, like it or lump it, as defiantly schizoid: a malevolent vortex that spits rage like Ivan at us and, conversely, an awesomely beautiful, unfathomable intelligence that graces us with...autumn.
Fall in St. Louis is the bee's knees -- no grand debate there, surely. (If you're new to the area, welcome to our best face.) The burnished days, yes, a time to ditch the vehicles and dig the glory, on foot, on bikes. And this weekend, try your best to wind up, wherever you ramble, on the south side for two exceedingly cool events: the Best of Missouri Market and the Historic Shaw Art Fair.
The thirteenth annual Best of Missouri Market takes place at the Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Boulevard; 314-577-9400 or www.mobot.org) on Saturday and Sunday (October 2 and 3) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The country comes to your city doorstep as Missouri farmers lay out a bounty of foodstuffs, flowers and herbs; out-state artisans offer goods such as willow furniture, carved wooden birds, decorative ironwork, baskets and myriad other handmades. Admission is $8 for adults and $6 for folks 65 and older. Children twelve and younger enter free.
You should also visit the Historic Shaw Art Fair, mere steps away. At this twelfth annual event, view artists' work in the form of paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, photography, printmaking, textiles, glass, wood and other media displayed in booths along the 4100 and 4200 blocks of Flora Place at Tower Grove Avenue (beautiful, broad Flora Place is artwork in and of itself). The fair runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Adult tickets are $4; kids fourteen and younger, with an adult, get in free (purchase tickets through MetroTix at 314-534-1111). Call 314-771-3101 or visit www.shawartfair.com for more information. -- Alex Weir
Perhaps you thought the Ozarks, Tennessee and the Dakotas were the only places rich with the likes of mountain men and their wild ways. Not true: These men, desperately needing the queer eye, and some mountain women have set up camp at Sioux Passage Park (on Old Jamestown Road, a half-mile east of Vaile Road; 314-615-4386) Saturday and Sunday (October 2 and 3). These folks are so authentic, you can't even get to their Real Mountain Encampment traditionally. After parking ($4) you and your kin take the hay wagon to camp. There you can gnaw on turkey legs, swill some sarsaparilla (as seen on Little House!), watch demonstrations and buy crafts from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. -- Alison Sieloff
Fancy and Feline-Free
Ever wondered if your dog could outrun Matt Morris' fastball? Think a pet psychic could explain your dachshund's strange obsession with your T.J. Hooker videos? Find the answers at the Canine Carnival presented by the Animal Protective Association of Missouri and Purina from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Tilles Park (Litzsinger and McKnight roads in Ladue). There will be doggie games and hoopla galore, such as the Speedy Dog challenge, caricature artists and contests -- including a kissing contest (the more slobber, the better!). Admission is free, and pledges from the March for Mutts parade and all other proceeds benefit the APA. For more information visit www.apamo.org or call 314-645-4610, extension 22. -- Amy Helms
Ahead of the Pack
While autumn may be well known as an excellent season for bird watching and foliage enjoyment, it's also the best time of the year for wolf watching, as the Wild Canid Survival & Research Center (I-44 and Beaumont-Antire Road [Exit 269]; 636-938-5900) opens its gates to all comers for the Rendezvous with the Wolves (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.). With demonstrations by the Metropolitan Police Canine Division and the Gateway Sled Dog Company, a "pups place" kids' activities area and appearances by the lupines themselves, this is a great chance to appreciate the fine work the canid center does in preserving the wolf species. Admission is $10 a car load, so gather your own pack, grab your camera and head out. -- Paul Friswold