During our half-year stint here in Washington, we’ve had quite a lot of fun. We’ve hiked some really beautiful trails, and they seem all the more beautiful because we come from Houston, where there certainly is beauty but it is a flat beauty. We’ve climbed over boulders, snacked alongside creeks and rivers, and scampered through woodland floors.
We’ve visited almost every monument, memorial and museum on our list. Some of them many times.
We’ve been sightseeing with friends and family, with Helen in the sling, the stroller and on my back.
Helen has learned to walk in our 2 bedroom apartment, and practiced her skills at the National Gallery of Art with an admiring audience. We have spent hours riding to and from on the metro, and I’ve seen people’s faces light up with a smile for our cute fair-haired child.
Thomas knows the metro as well as many a station master. He can tell you which stations are on what lines, as well as where the transfer points are and which stations are underground, or above ground. He can read the map and tell you which direction to walk to get to whatever tourist location is the day’s destination.
Nature Study has looked like watching mama birds feed baby birds from our balcony, gluing leaves and sticks to the bark of trees using only tree sap at the Crystal City Water Park while waving to commuter trains passing by, picking up flower heads on our walks to the library, park and mall, and throwing acorns to skittering squirrels. Oh, and of course, there was the study of the critters in the parking garage. By the way, the thing I thought was a mouse turned out to be a chipmunk, so yay!
We learned that if you want a meal along the Mall, you can forget it unless you eat at one of the museums, and that there are nearby food trucks that pull up to the office buildings all along the outskirts of the touristy areas. We learned that most metro elevators stink. We also learned to use our knuckles or elbows to push elevator buttons.
We learned that people around here are nice when you’re walking or hiking or biking, but if you’re driving you hear a lot of honking. Oh, and you’ll get lost nearly every time you go anywhere, even if you’ve been there 3 times before. Well, maybe you wouldn’t and I certainly never would’ve guessed I would’ve but there you go. I am a little tired of feeling lost.
We learned that at Grace Presbyterian Church in Vienna people will welcome you into their hearts and lives even if you will only be here briefly. There we found brothers and sisters in Christ who truly love each other.
Our love for America was fostered and fueled by these simple experiences. For me, seeing the Star Spangled Banner and realizing that the night it flew in sight of Francis Scott Key was a generation after the signing of the Declaration of Independence brought to light how vigilant we must remain to retain our freedoms.
And a simple walk from the Washington Monument past the World War II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial is enough to make me thankful for the vision of great presidents and for the loyalty of our military who sacrifice more than most of us realize to protect us against our enemies and allow us to do things like go for a walk without fear, worship freely, and peaceably change government leaders by vote.
As the time for our departure to chilly Moscow peers around the corner of next weekend, which is the 10th anniversary of the attacks on September 11th, 2001, our hearts burn strongly with a love for this great country of ours. And I know that it isn’t cool to be in love with your country but I am.