Thwarted! Our excellent Sunday plan was to wake up early and greet the sunrise at the Tidal Basin, followed by a “walk in the clouds,” an early-bird stroll among DC’s famous Yoshino cherry trees, all abloom. We came, the Sun lazily obliged–but the cherry trees? After days of delay, they are still taking a rain check, their pink buds shut tight and droopy in the bracing morning wind.
We did take that stroll, as dress rehearsal, of sorts. I am determined to get my annual sakura fix early next week. Meanwhile, here is the dashing bone structure that supports the spectacle each year:
The Jefferson memorial, basking in the day’s very first rays: The earth underneath these steps remembers the cherry-tree rebels, the 150 women who blocked bulldozers (chains and shovel seizure were involved). As one story goes, a treacherous lunch from Assistant Secretary of the Interior (lots of coffee, no bathrooms) aided negotiations
The multifaceted Mr. Jefferson
George Mason, the “defender of liberty,” relaxes at his memorial
The Japanese Pagoda: This nearly 2-ton 17-century pagoda was a gift from the Mayor of Yokohama. It arrived in 1957, disassembled, in five crates, and with no instructions–the Smithsonian Institution had fun solving the puzzle
The find: Steps away from Ambassador Roosevelt, we discovered several blooming branches, besieged by photographers
The beaver menace: Beavers occasionally get into the Basin and attempt a dam, felling cherry trees in the process
The 360-year-old Japanese Stone Lantern, another gift from Japan, is ceremonially lit each year to mark the National Cherry Blossom Festival
We got to enjoy the Tidal Basin in relative solitude because streams of runners blocked many of the roads around it: This was the day of the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run. Captive audience at first, we soon joined the ranks of the race’s appreciative spectators.
The front runners: Allan Kiprono (Kenya, #1) ended up second in this race, and Stephen Sambu (Kenya, #37) was fourth. As these men raced on, a wave of ovations rose from the spectators and the rest of the runners (crowding a parallel street, all still at a much earlier part of the track). These were celebrities.
Through the throng of runners, I paid my respects to one of my favorite overlooked DC memorials: The District of Columbia War Memorial, honoring the 499 Washingtonians lost in the Great War (it is the only DC-specific memorial on the Mall). Once the National Mall’s major tourist attraction, it is a quiet place today. Come here when azaleas bloom, and bring a good book.
More about cherry blossoms:
Wisteria season (late April):
Waterlilies and lotus blooms (June/July):