All in a Morning’s Jaunt

Spring                                                      Bloodroot Moon

Today is the much nicer day of the next three.  Tomorrow the high will be 46 and windy, Monday 41 with ice and snow. Today it is 53 and sunny. I chose walking over museums today.

Before leaving I ate my first and last breakfast at the hotel.  Their main breakfast is a buffet, served for the  many students staying here.  The coffee was weak and served in tired blue plastic mugs.  Jack Reacher would have scored the coffee very low.  A group of 18 students from Germany didn’t seem to mind the coffee though.

Outside the wind was mild, though the temperature in the morning was in the high 30’s.  I saw people in shirt sleeves but I stuck with my hat, Chilean fjord special muffler and my Ecuadorian coat.  There were a number of people out enjoying the sunshine when I passed the Willard Hotel.

(apparently my Android takes self-portraits.  This one showed up in my pics today.)

Those of you who watched House of Cards would recognize the Willard from the scene where Clean Water held its fund-raiser on the steps, then crossed the streets with trays of food for the striking teachers.  Up close it looks like money and power compressed into architecture.

About a block from the Willard and right next to the Whitehouse–how did I not remember this?–is the department of the Treasury.  Keep the nation’s finances right close by the Oval Office, I guess.

Michelle’s garden is on the south lawn and visible from the fence where we all gathered, gobsmacked by the presence of this icon of politics and American might.  The Whitehouse has been the home of all U.S. presidents except for George Washington though Truman vacated for four years while it got a top to bottom rebuilding.

Onward to the Mall, entering the green west of the still not open Washington Monument.  It’s having repairs and rejiggering of its foundations due to a 2011 5.8 earthquake whose epicenter was in Virginia.

Walking along the reflecting pool on my way to the Lincoln Monument I saw a very large Irish Wolfhound, gray and stately, walking its people, unfortunately too far away to meet.

At the monument there were a lot of people though not the crush I’ve  experienced at other times.  This is a moving place as I’m sure you already know.  It is, as it says right over Lincoln’s head, a temple.  Immersed as I am right now in Greek and Roman mythology it’s easy to see the architect and sculptor’s reach back to those ancient worlds for adequate ceremonial features.  He was and is a giant in our history and this haunting building makes that place clear.

A brief thought passed through my head that this was a monument for the ages, then Ozymandias came in its wake and I realized I was a citizen of Rome at Rome’s peak.  London at the height of the British Empire.  Xi’an during the T’ang empire.  Edo during the Tokugawa era.  And the glory of those cities now lies in the past, a memory, not a present fact.  So it will be with Lincoln and Washington, D.C. itself.

After the Lincoln Monument I went by the additions to the Vietnam Memorial, two statuary groups, one three men, the other three women, and wandered on to come upon what must be the most jingoistic of all our monuments and one built under the reign of George II, George W. Bush.  Nothing against the vets of WWII, among them were both my parents and an uncle, but this monument reeks of American exceptionalism and the projection of US power.  With George W.’s name on it it will forever be linked, as I’m sure he intended, with his misguided efforts in Iraq.

This is an example of the unintended consequences of the use of power.  No one can or should compare the US WWII effort, the last ‘good’ war’, with the ill-advised and deceitfully sold war against the Iraqi people.  This monument will itself stand as stone and metal irony on just this point.

In case, though, all these monumental treatments of liberty and freedom seem ill-advised, I found this on the back of a truck parked on the corner of Constitution and 15th, just two blocks from the Whitehouse.  There is always someone who would take freedoms away.

By the time I trudged my way back–I figure 4 to 5 miles round trip–this guy had exhausted himself.  A lunch at the Elephant and Castle then a long nap.  Woke up refreshed and ready to go back to the PRB show tomorrow.