April 23, 2013
I rarely disagree with my bride of 413 months. Not more than two or three times a week, I’m sure. So it was only under my breath that I questioned her idea of driving into Washington, D.C. recently to see the Cherry Blossoms. The Cherry Blossoms attract visitors from all over the world to our beautiful capital city. Now, there are cherry blossoms on the Yard of the Naval Academy, and we live in Annapolis, so why the push to go to Washington? Well, because Washington’s Cherry Blossoms are so very beautiful, surrounding the Tidal Basin and framing the Jefferson Memorial, as they do.
They were a gift a hundred years ago from the people of Japan. Part of the allure of the Cherry Blossoms, certainly, is their evanescence. They last but a few days. If we have a windstorm, a hailstorm, even a heavy rain, the Cherry Blossoms can be gone in a flash.
Of course, the fact that they are here such a brief moment in time is what draws the tourists from around the country and around the world.
My point, exactly. Any other time, my beloved is hard to draw into Washington. We live only thirty-two miles away, but I say it’s like scraping barnacles off a ship’s hull to get that dear lady into the District.
So which day, of all days in the year, might she choose for a family excursion into the Capital? The peak day of the Cherry Blossoms! It was the very day when much of the rest of the world wants to see them, too!
I rode in the van with my son-in-law and the grandchildren, as we led my wife and daughter in a second car. I muttered “This day of all days!” He has grown used to these expressions of patience and forbearance from me. After all, he’s family now.
As we came up on Capitol Hill, however, my smile through gritted teeth turned into something more genuine.
“What’s that big round thing, GranDad” our four year-old grandson asks. “Why, it’s the Capitol of the United States; it’s where Congress meets to make our laws.” For once, I forget about Obamacare and a lot of the other bad things happening under that Dome. I point out the lady standing on top. That’s the Statue of Freedom.”
“Oh, GranDad, what’s that big pencil,” he wants to know.
That’s the Washington Monument, I tell him. “Do you work in there,” he asks.
I cannot tell a lie. No, but I’ll take you to the building where I do work.
He and his twin sisters are taking it all in.
Even though we have to drive into Virginia to come around the Lincoln Memorial and get in line to see the Cherry Blossoms, I am by this time in a much better frame of mind.
Maybe the Missus idea wasn’t such a bad one, after all.
And yes, those thirty-six columns on the Big White Box are for all the states we had when President Lincoln lived here. No, he didn’t live in the Big White Box. But I’ll show you the house where he did live.
We slowly make the circuit of the Tidal Basin, in line with approximately 1 in 7 of the seven billion others on Earth.
Parking finally at my office, we dash across the street for a picnic in the Atrium of the National Portrait Gallery. Now, the grandchildren can be unstrapped from their car seats. They were amazingly content to see the Cherry Blossoms and all the monuments. Shouldn’t I be?
They find that stone rectangle on the floor of Atrium, the one with 1/8 inch of water constantly flowing over it. It seems to have been created for no other purpose than for children to splash in it. And they don’t even get other diners wet.
Splish, splash.. Joining them on the rectangle is a boy of about eight. He runs through the water. He wears a yarmulke. This boy has a serious birth defect, but his bearded young dad is teaching him how to take photographs with one finger.
I am thinking how grateful I should be to have witnessed such tender scenes. I was taught the shechechanu, a Hebrew prayer for such moments.
Blessed be Thou, O L_rd, Master of the Universe, that Thou hast preserved us in life to savor this experience for the first time.
And I also thank God for my wife. She has this maddening quality: Even when she’s wrong, she’s right!