Sunday, March 30, 2014

Column and Glass

The Smithsonian's American Art Museum and Portrait Gallery share the building that used to be the Old Patent Office. Climb the stairs to the second floor and you will find yourself in the middle of the Great Hall, which retains its High-Victorian splendor. I love to look out of the etched and stained glass windows, which are at eye level with the columns that line the south entrance. Miniature people scurry up and down Eighth and F Streets, going in and out of carefully restored buildings that have been there since Lincoln's time. Offices of glass and steel now occupy parts of these same city blocks. What would the long-gone residents think of their neighborhood now?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lavender Crocuses

Finally, in spite of  almost-weekly snows, the crocuses have opened. They take in as much life-giving sunlight as they can manage, brightening corners of gardens and swaths of lawns with their humble, no-fuss blooms. Next  week they may have to endure one more fresh blanket of snow, but the crocuses will make it through; a promise that spring is inevitable. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014


This is the week when Americans deck themselves in green and hang shamrock wreaths from their doors, even if they can't claim any Irish ancestors. My green photo has a southwestern origin. Saguaro cacti are the ones that look a bit like people, with arms upheld in a perennial salute. In desert areas, they are a welcome bit of green. Their spiny ridges curve in graceful lines, each cactus slowly forming its own unique patterns as it grows. These shapes remind me of rippling water or melting icicles, an irony, considering their hot, arid homes. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Deruta Doorway

Doors and their surrounding architecture can tell you a lot, but they can also leave you pondering the history of a place.  Deruta, Italy, is renowned for its ceramics, so many of the buildings are embellished with tiles, plaques or bas reliefs. Buildings change hands and the decorations no longer relate to their present occupants. This young woman with sheaves of wheat poses above a Latin inscription  proclaiming "Bread for All."  Too bad this isn't a bank. The reflection of  renaissance-era buildings lured me on down the street to search for more of these colorful mysteries. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

View From the Bus Stop

What? More snow? This week's snow looked like a child's drawing: flurries of absurdly exaggerated flakes, so big you could almost discern the shape of each one as it drifted down. Feathery whiteness piled up on trees and lawns but did not stick to the sidewalks. Through the glass of the bus shelter, I could admire the laden branches. Two hours later, the sun came out and by five o'clock, all trees were bare again. This may be one of the best kinds of snow; beautiful, but requiring no shoveling.