Liz Writes: Seeing the Elephant In St. Louis

Red hair don’t care (actually, that’s a lie, I care a lot).

It sure has been a while since I posted a “Liz Writes” update.

I traveled to St. Louis this past week to support my nephew’s roller hockey team at a tournament called State Wars. It was a crash course in hockey and it was super exciting! I learned so much — about hockey, about my own limits. I came home with a streak of red in my hair and a newfound appreciation for kids’ sports.

We did a couple touristy things while in St. Louis. My partner and I went up in the Arch, of course. And we went to the City Museum with the younger nephew (5), who had a BLAST.

But this is a Liz Writes, not a review of the trip.

As I was looking at the displays in the Arch museum, I came across a plaque depicting an elephant:

I know this is not a good photo. I snapped it because I wanted the text.

“Seeing the Elephant”

As people experienced the wonder, adventure and hardships of the overland trails, they used a phrase in their diaries that expressed their feelings when bad luck, accidents, or outright tragedy befell them. They called their episodes of danger and adventure “seeing the elephant.” Why an elephant?

Elephants were rare animals in America at the time, only seen in traveling circuses. An elephant coming to town was a big event, causing great anticipation and perhaps a little fear of the unknown. On the overland trails, diaries and journals mentioned “seeing the elephant” at river crossings, during bad weather and even after the deaths of family members.

It struck me as a fascinating turn of phrase that particularly applies to my life right now. That feeling of anticipation — of a door opening before you while another shuts behind — of someone whispering just out of hearing.

I have seen a lot of elephants in the last year and a half.

And so I am working on a new piece of writing — poetry or creative nonfiction, haven’t decided yet — about that. I’m glad to have found inspiration and motivation for writing again while in a new city.

In other news, keep your eyes on this space for some updates coming down the pipe. I have been streaming on Twitch as my other internet personality, Internet Gramma / Katryam, and I have been thinking about putting some rough cuts of that up on YouTube. My brand seems to be branching out from the “Liz Writes” persona into something more all-encompassing on the “making stuff” front. I knit/crochet, I write, I make internet content, I publish tasteful and important reviews of tabletop games.

I think this site should reflect the multiple facets of the work I’m doing. So stay tuned for some much-needed improvements.


Published by Liz

I'm a writer living and working in Cincinnati, OH. I've been writing for ages and ages. Somehow now I'm actually getting someone to pay me to do it.

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