Thursday, April 05, 2007

cherry blossom walk (that was nicer than AJS thought it would be!)

Color me surprised when AJS volunteered to go on a family outing to *gasp* downtown D.C. *eeek!* to view the Cherry Blossoms and see the Kite Festival on Saturday, all the while intermingling with the hordes of tourists and otherwise repellent examples of humankind. Even when we lived in D.C., he would avoid any type of ethnic festival, chili cook-off, or large gathering like a pestilence and virtually refuse to leave the house.

Then, I learned that our dear friend Mel, who has been very unavailable for the last several months had agreed to meet us there, along with her dog, Walter. So, AJS was not going to miss this fleeting opportunity!

The only way this would work for AJS was to get to D.C. before 8 a.m. so we could get a parking spot and so avoid the other repulsive congregation of the unwashed, the Metro. We found a space just in time at one of the Hains Point area parking lots and have an easy walk to the Tidal Basin. Another sacrifice that was necessary for this to be a workable outing was NO STROLLERS. In order to navigate the sidewalks that are choked with tourists mesmerized by the beauty of the fragile blossom petals, walking in slow motion, taking photos in the middle of thoroughfares, we would have to allow our children to walk or carry them. This worked out to mostly carrying them.

It was truly a beautiful day! The weather was sunny and brisk, the blossoms were in full, white-and-pink fluffy loveliness, and Dash and Rosie were in good moods. We saw the signage with the silly safety mascot of the festival, a beaver named "Paddles" who advised that we refrain from picking the blossoms. Hee! Oh, so badly drawn...

As we walked through the Jefferson Memorial, Dash cheerfully circumambulated the statue (at high speed), pointing and yelling "MAN! MAN!" Thankfully, most of the other folks there seemed to find it endearing (except when we were in their camera's viewfinder). Rosie chased him around or wandered on her own path, taking in the views, watching the paddleboats make their way across the water.

From there we walked to the FDR Memorial (well at this point, AJS and I were personal transports), where Dash also yelled and pointed, "MAN! MAN!" at all the statues of Mr. Roosevelt. Rosie got up close and personal with Fala, while AJS took some nice video of her gently patting her bronze, spiky fur. Dash and Rosie both enjoyed the waterfalls, which I found to be serene and violent at once as they crashed over the geometrically carved stones; I wondered if this effect was considered by the architect/sculptor?

We all ran across the grassy field and then I carried Dash up the steep steps at the Lincoln Memorial. Again he had an opportunity to yell at The Man, although by this time of day (9:40?), the tourists were quite thick at this popular site and we wandered down to rest at the less-populated reflecting pool. Rosie and Dash tried to locate rocks to hurl in and make ripples; hopeful ducks occasionally glided over to see if we'd feed them. Another baby that was ahead of us toddled waaaay too close to the edge for my comfort, but set a bad example for Dash, so both her parent and I struggled to keep our toddlers from dumping into the drink as they barreled ahead. We passed them, as the wee lass distracted easily and my boy can be focused, once on a path. As we headed toward the Washington Monument, a loudspeaker started playing music to announce the kick-off of the Kite Festival.

We were crossing 17th Street as a quavering, older, female voice, possibly of Japanese origin, came on the PA, launching into our National Anthem. As soon as we crossed, I took a call from Mel, who was nearby and wanted to establish a meeting spot. We had been pointing out the different kites to Rosie and asking her what they looked like; Dash just pointed, except when he saw Elmo and then couldn't stop talking about his beloved little red monster. I recall there was a pretty well made upper-half of a soccer player (torso, head & arms) reaching for a soccer ball that was the kite's tail! There were some speedy and tricky stunt kites, some beautiful birds and butterflies, and plenty of scary pirates, spidermen and sharks. The wind was very strong, so many, many kites were in the air.

Mel and Walter appeared and we walked with her all the way back to the car, which seemed to be soooo very far away, especially since Dash was cranky, trying to twist out the carrier. He fell asleep when we were almost to the parking lot. Mel tried valiantly to catch up with me, but I was tired and concentrating too much on walking and my aching shoulders to really keep up my end of the chatter. I learned that she's enjoying her new job, is considering leaving her second job, is doing consulting work for her previous job, and also that academia is calling to her: is another degree in the making?

We drove to an Irish pub in her neighborhood, and while we were in the car, Walter gave Mel and AJS happy-dog kisses, then looked expectantly into the back seat, where kisses weren't welcome. Sorry, Walter. At the pub we learned that they served deep-fried tater tots and that the waitress was indulgent enough to give our kids slices of cheddar cheese and crispy bacon (no bread, please) for their lunches. Sorry, no milk. Mel tried to advise Rosie that once you pass 22 years, you'll want to cut back on the bacon and cheese unless you know a good cardiologist.

After parting ways, I fell asleep in the car, then dropped the kids off at my parents' house for a few hours. I went back home, took some Advil, crawled into bed and took a serious nap. Oh, I didn't mention that on Friday afternoon, I took a turbo-step aerobics class? I was tired. But it was a nice outing overall!


  1. People might have been thick on the National Mall for the cherry blossoms, but I'll bet it doesn't compare with the hordes out to see the blossoms at certain places in Japan -- especially, in my experience, at the grounds of the National Mint in Osaka. I'm glad I didn't have to navigate that mess with children.

    Then again, another spring I was advised to take in the cherry blossoms at Suminoe Shrine, a little-known spot also in Osaka. One morning I was the only one there, despite its lovely flower displays.

  2. a beaver? a BEAVER?

    of course, a beaver. for there are so many of them paddling around the tidal basin...

  3. Well, you remember that family of "friendly" beavers that were gnawing on the cherry trees at the tidal basin back in 1999? They sure cost the NPS quite a few $$$ in "beaver control" funding.

    Maybe it has something to do with that. Otherwise, I don't have a clue what the relevance is.


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