Monday, July 28, 2014

Skating on The Mall

The other day, I went for a walk on The Mall.  The National Mall.  It’s about a half block from my office.  I’m not bragging.  Okay, I am bragging … a little bit.

I headed down the northern edge, toward the Lincoln Memorial.  I could see the White House out of the corner of my eye, way off to the right.  A crowd of people in t-shirts and tank tops loitered outside the wrought iron fence, taking photos across the South Lawn.

I continued down the sidewalk until I arrived at my day’s destination, the Albert Einstein Memorial.  I’ve seen it a few times from afar, but never close up.  This was going to be my up-close day.

Unfortunately, there were a couple of other families who had the same idea.  Their kids were climbing all over Albert.  They were snapping pictures of each other.  The children were full of giggles and running around like crazy.  I couldn’t really get the personal viewing I’d hoped for.

One of the kids—a little boy—called out, “Albert Einstein is my idol!”

This seemed a little strange.  I thought about suggesting Tony Romo instead, but kept my mouth shut.
Finally, the families cleared out, and I got my own photos and Albert-time.


As I headed back to the office, I noticed something I’d never noticed before.  At least I don’t remember noticing it before.  A sign near the Constitution Gardens Pond that said “56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence” and an arrow pointing straight ahead.  “What is this?” I thought, and I followed another sign to a wooden bridge that led to a small island.

Upon arrival, I noted seven other fellow-travelers who’d also made their way to the island … two couples, a single, a kid, and a park ranger.  I’m not sure who went with whom, but the park ranger was giving a “tour.”

There are 56 stones to commemorate the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence.  This happened in 1776.

Those were the highlights.  The tour didn’t take very long.

Afterward, the park ranger and one of the couples stood awkwardly in some shade at a corner of the memorial.  The woman looked over at the ranger and asked, “So, do you give tours here year round?”

“Yes, ma’am,” he replied.  “In fact, I was out here last winter, and there was a man out there ice skating on this very pond.”

He continued, “I stopped him, of course.  I told him, ‘You might know what you’re doing, but a lot of these people around here don’t.  Someone might get hurt if they come out on the pond.’”

He concluded, “A fellow coming out here and skating on this pond.  Can you imagine someone doing a thing like that?”

I thought about it for a second.  Maybe less than a second.

A frozen pond.  Snow covered willows and magnolias.  A perfect view of the Washington Monument.

Could I imagine that?

Well, yes I could.

Now where can I get my hands on a good pair of ice skates?

Flicr photo by NCinDC


Monday, July 7, 2014

Rainy Days
From the 1973 Petit Jean

At Harding Elementary,

my 2nd grade classroom

and my 6th grade classroom


the same classroom.

Coatracks in the hallway outside the door.

Classroom library tucked away in the back corner.

A large bank of windows along the western wall.

My strongest memories, of that room, are of rainy days.

I mean stormy,

dark clouds, and lightning days.

Raindrops pelting the windows like bullets.

The sound of it so loud

you could hardly hear the teacher.

Dark and scary on the outside,

but warm and cozy on the inside.


Like resting in the hand of God.

Feeling happy, calm and protected

when the whole world was coming apart

on the other side of the glass.

I loved those rainy days

with Mrs. Alston or Mrs. Alexander


just a few steps away.


that life can be good

even in the midst of a storm.