Washington in Bloom


smw, slt has packed up the big bags and moved on for a longer term again. This time we’re off to  Papua New Guinea where we expect to be working for a year. This is going to be an interesting assignment for me – new and different context and part of the world for me to work in, also a new role as head of mission. As usual, this will remain a personal blog of the world as seen through my eyes…so more about PNG if, as and when appropriate. For now, my farewell to the land of my birth comes in the form of a photographic essay of my lovely final week there, spent in Washington, DC. Since many of my international friends have never been to the US or DC, I enjoyed taking shots of the city in its springtime glory. DC is a lovely city to visit – excellent free museums you can wander in and out of at will, grand monuments to the many of the great thinkers and founders of the American experiment, and lots of public green space around the mall and monuments. I’ve tried to show some of this, along with the occasional shot of me or my family, some of whom also came down to DC while I was there. Enjoy the shots – I’ll throw in the occasional caption, but I’ve nothing else to really add in terms of text for now. Peace, health, companionship to us all in the coming year.

….this year, one understands, was the 100th anniversary of DC’s famous cherry trees being donated by the nation of Japan. As it happens my visit was perfectly timed to see the trees go from bud to full bloom, thanks to several days of glorious warm sunny weather. Below it’s me enjoying brunch with my little cousin twice-removed, Adair — he’s Amalie & Bryan’s son and they drove down from Baltimore for a really great brunch with me, my mother & brother, and my cousin Maria. Thanks, guys :-).

The Washington Monument is the tallest building in the District of Columbia (and building codes will keep it so), and it’s therefore fairly omnipresent and makes a good focus for — too many, I know… — photos.

From the FDR Memorial.

…above,  taken earlier in the week; below, about five days later once the trees had burst into full bloom. That’s the Jefferson Monument, by the way, my personal favorite both because I think it’s the most graceful of the three biggest & oldest monuments, and also because Jefferson was such a great philosopher of democracy, and also a conflicted representative of the ideals he represented: a committed Democrat who had slaves and agreed to the original language of the constitution which gave slaves no rights whatsoever but counted them as partial people for the distribution of political power in the new system (for allocating seats in the House of Representative, if my memory of history serves correctly…)

…Thomas Jefferson: a statue of the man, and some of his words.

Above, from the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial; below, me in a particpatory art installation on display at the (fantastic, free) Hischorn Gallery.

One of the more unusual monuments is Theordore Roosevelt National Memorial Island, to which I went both in honor of the man who launched our national park system and was the first political leader to recognize the importance, in a nation clearly growing at a very rapid rate, of setting aside  open space for future generations to enjoy and for the protection of our natural heritage…and also to remind myself that Republicans have not always been as willfully ignorant, greedy, and dishonest as they seem now to have become. Below are two shots taken from the island; one shows the Watergate Hotel (yes, site of that infamous incident from which so many later government scandals around the world have drawn their name) as well as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (built to honor JFK of course).

A corner of the old executive office building, some shiny memorial column, and a corner of the mall all on a sunny late afternoon; below another shot of the gables and turrets of the old executive office building.

Above: earlier in the week; below: later in the week 🙂

A farewell shot of the capitol dome behind the Washington monument. May American politics find a measure of sanity and civility while I’m away.

11 responses

  1. Stephen Brockmann

    Hi Paul, What nice pictures, as usual! I must say that we did time our visit to DC pretty darn well, didn’t we? It was great seeing you and everyone else, and I hope you have safe travels to PNG!

    March 24, 2012 at 05:22

  2. Wow-your photos are terrific (as always). Is it early for the cherry blossoms? Here in Ossining our daffodils have gone wild-I’ll post some photos on my blog this weekend.
    We visited the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial also when we were in Washington (I’m realizing as I type this that that was *years* ago).
    Looks like you all had a great time!

    March 24, 2012 at 06:02

  3. Bill McCuskey

    Thanks, Paul, for the visual and verbal reminder why a part of my heart remains homesick for D.C., having left it some 36 years ago for life in that other country, Los Angeles. Bon voyage and keep up the good work!

    March 24, 2012 at 07:04

  4. Maria

    Thanks for all of those, Paul. I didn’t get to take many pics, and I didn’t get to actually look at most of the flourishing floridity (though I was very happy being surrounded by it). The couple of days with you all were really fine! Safe travels to PNG, and safe home.

    March 24, 2012 at 09:11

  5. Don

    Come and gone, so soon! Sorry to have missed you during your visit to the northern portion of the West Coast! My timing wasn’t as well planned, so coordinating with your timeline will be better on your next go-around to San Francisco! Awesome blog and shots of DC that remind me of my last visit a few years ago! Have a safe trip and may your venture to Padua New Guinea be succesfull and rewarding with all your efforts!

    March 24, 2012 at 11:44

  6. Junko

    The cherry blossoms from Japan in DC are completely coming out! Our cherry blossoms are not even start blooming.. We are still in the end of winter.

    March 24, 2012 at 15:56

  7. Pat Eickman

    Thank you, Paul, for your usual stunning photographs–and for highlighting some of those ideals that should guide us all in our daily political and personal endeavors. Safe travels to you!

    March 24, 2012 at 17:10

  8. Michelle

    Paul – Gorgeous pics. Joe and I were disappointed we couldn’t connect with you during this break and I am fascinated by your next adventure…be safe, be well and continue the great work.

    March 25, 2012 at 09:34

  9. Al

    Great photos Paul, as always, as somebody said above. Great to see you and to be in touch. Be safe and enjoy!

    March 25, 2012 at 09:38

  10. Andrew Deppe

    Thanks for sharing the lovely DC photos. Stephen and I are off to L.A. tomorrow — sorry we missed you by just a few days this time! Best wishes and good luck on your new post. Cheers, Andrew

    March 26, 2012 at 18:00

  11. Jean Jerauld

    Loved seeing the Calder mobile at the Hirshorn as much as the cherry blossoms in bloom. Thanks for a restorative “visit” to one of my favorite world cities.

    April 1, 2012 at 14:44

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