Remembering a forecast of rain, Wesley Falker decided to dump his grass clippings in a yard waste bin rather than leave them until morning.
Falker now thinks a higher power was making sure he heard the whimper of a newborn boy abandoned in the bin in a back alley.
"You just never know hour to hour, second to second, what's going to happen in this strange, crazy world we live in," Falker told The Associated Press on Tuesday, still numb from his unlikely discovery the night before.
"I feel blessed to have been out there at the right time, the appointed time," he said. "God does all this stuff. You do what you're supposed to do."
The cry was 'unmistakable'
Falker, 52, witnessed the birth of his own two sons more than 20 years ago and said the cry was unmistakable. He called out to neighbors to call 911. The boy with his umbilical cord still intact had been lying on his back, wrapped in a wet and dirty white towel.
The newborn was in good condition at St. Louis Children's Hospital on Tuesday evening.
Children's Hospital Medical Director Dr. F. Sessions Cole said he couldn't comment on the boy's specific treatment, but said physicians try to keep such a child's temperature stable while feeding it baby formula.
Cole said the warm, moist yard waste might have helped keep the newborn's temperature stable after he was abandoned. Police said they were investigating and searching for suspects.
Missouri is one of several states that allow people to relinquish a newborn at a hospital, or police or fire station, no questions asked. A campus of multiple medical centers in St. Louis' Central West End neighborhood is less than a mile from where the newborn was abandoned.
"Certainly, if people were more aware, we could see a lot more babies dropped off appropriately than in Dumpsters," said Margie Batek, licensed clinical social worker at St. Louis Children's Hospital.