Monday, March 31, 2008

Some Things Stay The Same 

The cherry trees were blooming on schedule in Washington DC last Friday. The day was warm, and thousands of visitors on school break were wandering the mall. Arlington cemetery was green with row on perfect row of marble markers. The gems at the Smithsonian Natural History were as big and beautiful as ever and paintings at the National as striking. It is hard to believe in a town as politically dynamic as Washington DC that some things stay the same year after year. It is as if there is a need for permanence in a city where nothing is fixed for long.

The sameness is a message about America. There is amazing wealth and power in the monuments and museums. The message is that all this was assembled for and belongs to the people, not to a president or Congress. This is why, but for the crowds, that is wonderful to visit Washington. It is our town.

But for the heat and humidity, I could have lived and worked there. But, Washington has always been unbearable for its temperature. Since the beginning, it was a hardship post for diplomats in the summer. Air conditioning solved much of the problem of July through August, but Congress, the President and anyone else who can still abandon the town in the summer. So, even in its sameness, there is a message of impermanence. Come and visit, but don't stay. However, millions have ignored that advice to live there and tolerate beastly traffic.

It is back to work this morning, but seeing cherry trees in bloom for the first time was worth the trip.


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