|This is the time of the year when the cherry trees are in full bloom around here in the Greater Washington Area, and I am sure, in a lot of other places. For the last couple of years, I have made the trek to the Tidal Basin in Washington DC and I have stood in awe at the beauty of the flowering trees around the basin in the early morning, when the sun is just raising in the east and casting a magical glow on the flowers. The price of admission is that you have to be there by sunrise and you have to brave the crowds, even on weekdays.
We have a cherry tree in our backyard and it blooms beautifully; it has grown from a spindly twig of a tree a few years back into a beautiful, robust specimen of a cherry tree now. I addition, we have a flowering quince bush, and both the cherry tree and the quince bush bloom at the same time, so this year, given the profusion of flowers right outside my back door, spiked with a good doses of laziness, I stayed home to admire what I have at home and photograph what I could without getting up early. Here are the results
|I had the honor – and what a thrilling gig! – to video the wedding of Saiqa and Owais yesterday. The day started at the beautiful Islamic Center in Washington DC where the happy couple made their religious vows and it ended at the Afghan Restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia, where the couple’s friends and family put on an out-of-this-world show and party. More to come later on when I get time to edit the video but now I just wanted to share a picture of the beautiful young couple as they looked right after the religious ceremony.
The Islamic Center is a beautiful place and I intend to visit again and write a bit more about it.Best,
|Reasoning that I should not get up for my morning walk during New Year’s Day – a holiday,
right? – I stayed in bed and slept in an extra hour only to rethink the wisdom of having done so after breakfast. To compensate for it, I got my photo gear bag and headed for the National Mall in Washington, DC.Parking near the National Mall is just about impossible during the warm months of the year but New Year’s Day was a bright, sunny and a bit chilly and still early in the morning so I had lots of parking options available to me. I chose a spot near the FDR Memorial and started my walk, first around the Tidal Basin before heading for the western portion of the Mall.
So first, the FDR Memorial. This is a great favorite of mine during the summer months, especially at night with the long shadows, the view of the Washington Monument across the basin and the illuminated waterfalls all around the memorial. During the day, and especially during the cold weather months of the year, it is not as impressive except for the words of wisdom carved in stone throughout the memorial, but it is also a convenient starting point to walk around the basin and to reach the rest of the Mall.
The sun was still very low in the horizon so looking across the basin from the FDR Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial was well defined against the background and against the water in front of it, and once in the memorial the white columns that are all around the monument looked majestic against the blue sky . This time of the year it is cold in the monument as the wind comes from all directions through the open rotunda.
Next was the World War II Memorial on the other side of the Tidal Basin. There is some work being done at the site, plus the cold weather would freeze the water, so the fountain which is an integral part of the monument was drained. This is a large place, or so it seems perhaps because it is an open space. By now the sun was brighter and much higher in the sky creating deep shadows, not necessarily good for pictures.
A short walk later and past the Lincoln Memorial is the Vietnam War Memorial. This place feels different, as being in church, perhaps. Despite the number of people there by that time, there was silence in their procession going from end to end, their reflections on the wall, inscribed with the names of the casualties of this war, a muted image of the visitors. At most of the other monuments there is respect; this one has feeling.
South from the Vietnam War Memorial and across the Reflecting Pool is the lesser known Korean War Veterans Memorial where sculptures of soldiers stand among juniper bushes. I find it so interesting that, as statues go, the statues of soldier show them in rain gear and communications equipment, including radio antennas. I really like this place.
Coming back to my car I stopped at the Martin Luther King Memorial. I am a huge admirer of Martin Luther King and every time I listen to his “I have a dream” speech I get goose bumps; as a lover of history, I think he is one of the great historic figures of the US; and as an ethnically different person myself and as part of a minority population in this country, I identify with his cause so I want desperately to like this monument. I also think that I do understand what was attempted to be accomplished, but somehow the poetic idea of “….The detachment of the Stone of Hope from the Mountain of Despair….” seems to me short of justice for Martin Luther King. But I remember, too, that the Vietnam War Memorial which was very controversial when inaugurated, has grown into people’s heart as time has passed so maybe in the future, I, too, will understand this memorial; maybe I am just alone thinking of it as I do.
Sorry….I got a bit verbose today so before I forget, here is a link to the pictures.
Making Smiles into Memories
|There is a little known but beautiful park in Northeast Washington DC, right across the Anacostia River from the National Arboretum that comes to life in mid-July to early August when the gorgeous lotus bloom in a riot of pink and white flowers. This is the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens where normally you meet just a few souls but this time of the year there are many more than usual but still relatively few compared to other places and given the beauty of the place. I still think of it as a well-kept secret in the Washington area.Lots of photographer there and for a good reason. In addition to the lotus flowers there are water lilies in the ponds, some of which will not bloom until late in the summer and early fall, as well as short trails to explore the marshes.
This past Sunday when I visited the gardens it was pretty hot with a harsh sun light, not the best for photography, but I think I managed to get a few shots. There is always next year for better light so this year I did as all photographers do: get the shot and live another day or another year for better light.
To my fellow photographers, good light!
When we think of Washington DC, besides politics, we think of the monuments, the cherry blossoms in April and the great museums, among many other beautiful, well known and interesting things. What it is not well known is the National Arboretum, a gorgeous expanse of land along the Anacostia River in Northeast Washington. It is one of my favorite destination year round and while the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin gets all of the attention, the magnolia trees at the Magnolia Collection section of the Arboretum put an amazing display of their own in early April. Later in April, it is the azaleas turn to dazzle the savvy visitor.
Whenever I see a magnolia tree about to bloom, I know it is time to visit the Arboretum. This year was no exception and during this visit I added to my collection of magnolia flowers pictures.
If you are in Washington in early April, don’t miss the magnolia flowers, as you wouldn’t want to miss the cherry blossoms. In addition to azaleas and magnolia flowers, there is an amazing bonsai garden, a pond, ferns, and many, many other amazing collection of plants and trees that you can enjoy any time of the year.
I have had the great fortune to have seen beautiful places, interesting places and stunningly, jaw-dropping beautiful places. Among the latter ones, I can think of Patagonia in Chile, White Sands in New Mexico, Bryce Canyon in Utah and many others, including the Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC Tidal Basin.
As with most of gorgeous places, one can see picture after picture of the Tidal Basin surrounded by cherry trees in full bloom but none of them really conveys the majesty of the blossoms. Part of the magic are the fleeting duration of their full bloom in early April when they peak in a day or two and then disappear just as quickly as they blossomed, many times rushed by the wind and rain of April showers, as well as the view of the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial.
I wanted to be early at the Tidal Basin to avoid the rush of people but when I arrived at 6:30AM as the sun was rising behind the Jefferson Memorial monument, the place was already packed; some people had arrived at 5AM!
There is an interesting story of the trees, as told by the National Park Service, and you can find it here.
And here are my pictures, the fruits of my early arrival at the Tidal Basin to see the blossoms. Two pictures from 2010 are included.