Monday, April 6, 2009

Washington, DC

Over the weekend, I spent the day at a party with my family at our Nation’s Capital.
In 1912, Washington DC was given a gift of 3000 Cherry trees from the Mayor of Tokyo, Japan, and each year DC stages a week long Cheery Blossom Festival celebrating the occasion. The date of the festival changes each year, depending on the weather. The goal of course is to have the trees blooming at their peak as the world descends upon the city.

I find it difficult to decide when to fertilize my lawn in relation to the next forecasted rain shower, so how the DC powers that be manage to stage this festival at the exact time the blossoms are peaking is beyond me. About a million people from around the world are banking on their timing. This year the timing was perfect.

Pennsylvania Ave, the little street that is called home by the most famous house in the world, The White House, was swarming with people from all over the world, walking from block to block observing a Japanese dance here, a martial arts demonstration there and tents for as far as the eye could see selling all things Japanese. The mood was festive, positive and with an atmosphere of good will. Not surprising, since Goodwill is what DC has represented to countries around the world since its inception.

A stage was set up at the foot of the Jefferson Memorial, where thousands of people enjoyed exhibitions of Japanese song and dance, with the 2000 blossoming cherry trees lining the tidal basin as a beautiful natural back drop.

Our day started out at my daughter’s apartment in Adams Morgan, which is a perfect aerobic workout away from The Mall. Adams Morgan is a culturally diverse and politically aware area nestled in the NW corner of DC, a perfect place to live for a girl who attended her first protest at the age of 5.

Since my daughter has lived in the DC area for more than a year, I found I have, in a strange way, adopted the city as my own. I find myself using the local vernacular like, the store is “on the circle,” which means of course, Dupont Circle. Previous to my frequent visits to DC, I pictured The Mall with a Macy’s and a Food Court. Of course the Mall is the spacious open area between The Capitol building and the Lincoln Memorial and bordered by various Institutes and Museums.

Saying “The Capital” used to give me goose bumps but now I say it with the ease with which I say “The 7/11”. I now realize when we’re heading for the Mall I’m going for a long walk, not a window shopping adventure.

The only local "ism" I haven’t mastered is the phrase “The Hill,” when referring to the Capital Building or the area around the capital. Every time I say “The Hill” I picture myself on “Meet the Press” or I picture a Washington correspondent with microphone in hand waiting for an interview with a Congressman. I haven’t mastered saying “The Hill” without laughing, yet.

As beautiful as the Cherry blossoms were, my attention kept wandering to the massive monuments that are located throughout the Mall. You can’t go anywhere in DC and not notice the Washington Monument that soars over 500 feet into the air. The Lincoln Memorial, dedicated to our 16th President for his efforts in preserving our Union and the Jefferson Memorial dedicated to one of our Countries founding fathers, served as a reminder to me what a special country this is that I live in.

For those of us that find it easy to speak negatively about our country, and the world today, I suggest a trip to DC for a refresher course of what this country is really about.


Anonymous said...

I would love to visit DC for the reasons that you've wrote about in this post :-) And oh my goodness, my heart would go giddy over so many cherry blossoms.

Mark said...

carol, yes, you would love it.

Malnurtured Snay said...

I've lived in DC for about a year (grew up here, moved away, came back), and I work p/t at a Bookstore near Farragut Square. A couple of months ago a woman came in when I was working the Info desk and wanted to know how to find the mall. I assumed she meant the Mall and told her to walk south a few blocks, and she got quite upset and told me she didn't want the stupid park, she needed new shoes.

I gave her directions to Friendship Heights (about a two hour walk).

dcpeg said...

Bless your heart for posting something positive about DC! This is a great place to live and I'm glad you get to visit your daughter and DC often.

When you mentioned "The Hill" I fondly remembered going up there at night and wandering through the Capitol building and grounds at will. Yes, there was a time when anyone could walk through the building without being strip-searched! I'm teasing about the strip-search, but to see such a monumentally significant building under such severe security just breaks my heart. So much has changed since 9/11/01, but I cannot imagine living anywhere else!