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):
What a beautiful place, even when the cherries aren’t blooming. I think the MLK memorial looks a bit like an iceberg though. I’m not sure I love it.
I definitely don’t love it… It reminds me of the over-the-top Soviet statues from the Stalinist years, imposing, distant, and–pompous, a tad? I will give it a few more visits…
And thank you for stopping by! 🙂
The photo of Mr. Jefferson is striking. I stopped at said hello to Eleanor when we were there in February — my first visit to FDR’s memorial. They all have their intriguing aspects. Great series of photos.
Oh you have to come back! FDR is my favorite of the major memorials on the Mall. The main feature of it, I think, is water, and you don’t really get to experience it fully in winter. In warm weather, all the water features are on, flowing, whispering–it is so soothing. And the trees growing over the memorial are gorgeous.
My mother said the same thing about that memorial — the WWII memorial was not quite the same without the water features, as well. Just more reasons to return!
We were there 10 days ago when it snowed! I love the DC area except for the traffic. So much to see. We’ll be back around Thanksgiving.
Ah, that snow, I think, is to blame for the blossom delay! This time last year, the blossoms were long bloomed-out. I hope you’ll enjoy DC this fall. November is another unpredictable month, but it’s usually lovely. Traffic is a nightmare, so I have been relying on the metro (despite some delays, I love DC’s metro–it’s convenient, clean, and stress-free when compared to driving/parking!). Thank you for stopping by.
I didn’t know about the cherry tree rebels. I also didn’t know about the George Mason memorial. I’ll have to search that out. I love his pose.
Looking forward to your pictures of the cherry blossoms.
The George Mason memorial is a little beyond Jefferson, closer to the river. It is especially lovely right now, because forsythias and magnolias are blooming together, and you can see the Washington Memorial beyond them (the monument is a bit ugly at the moment, though, with all the scaffolding). There were two other spots not far from the George Mason memorial that I completely forgot to find: The Cuban Friendship Urn and the area where the first airmail flight took place (apparently, there is a plaque for that)–have you stumbled upon those by any chance?
No I haven’t but plan to be there early on Thursday morning before work and will try to find them.
I visit Dc area often as I have family in Virginia. Someday I will see the cherry blossoms! We are having a terrible spring here. Cold and even supposed to snow!
I am so sorry! I hope spring arrives soon. This really has been a long, grey winter.
The cherry blossoms were lovely at dawn on Monday – you missed it by one day! Actually, we had to head back to Boston Monday afternoon, but I imagine the blossoms will really be lovely this weekend! Great photos!
Incredible how everything changed overnight! I am glad you got to see the blossoms at their best. As always, thank you for reading.
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