Monday, April 11, 2011

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York. This afternoon our seasons seemed to change from a cool, dampish spring to a rather warm early summer. The time/temperature sign on the neighborhood bank said it was 80 degrees F. Wow! What a switch. On Friday morning, I took a train down to Washington, DC for a long-planned visit. It was cold when I left New York, and even colder, plus rainy when I got to Union Station in our nation's capital. There was suspense at that point whether wrangling between our country's major political parties were going to result in an actual "shutdown" of the federal government as of midnight Friday. The following is a photo of the Capitol Building where some sort of vote needed to take place by midnight. The following photo taken from my wonderful host's car shows the rain. Just behind those trees is where the Capitol is, even if you cannot really see it. This weather called for wooly layers of clothing and umbrellas. One reason for this visit was to see the splendid Gauguin exhibit, at the National Gallery, that had recently traveled across the Atlantic after a stay at the Tate in London. If the government shutdown were to have happened, the National Gallery, as a publicly-funded museum, would have had to lock its doors. If the shutdown were to have taken place, my host would have had to stay home from his government-funded job on an enforced furlough until various politicos got their acts together. And so, we decided to see the Gauguin show late on Friday afternoon, just to make sure that we would be admitted. I have seen many Gauguin exhibits over the years, and it was grand to see some old favorites amongst the paintings, prints, and wood carvings. As we had a few minutes left before the normal closing hour for the NG, we also took a quick peek at a Canaletto exhibit. I liked the Gauguin much more. On Saturday morning we learned from various news reports that some sort of temporary settlement had been reached, and the government would not close down. Unfortunately, the rather fierce weather continued. No actual rain, but grey and chilly, and damp underfoot. We had a great breakfast and then went out to a local garden center to get some annual plants for my host's garden. It was a fun place to visit, where we pulled a creakly little red children's sized wagon around the various beds of flowers, herbs, and other plants and made our selections. This was all very relaxing and so very different from my usual New York pace. After a delicious lunch, we took a walk round my host's neighborhood, and I did take a photo of this cherry tree. This weekend was the end of the annual Japanese Cherry Tree Festival held in DC to honor the Japanese who gave many of these beautiful trees to our nation. We did not attend any of the official events, but saw some of them reported on television later. It was more fun to see local flowers in bloom. If you look very carefully just to the left of the base of this wonderfully knarled tree, you will see Coco, the fraidy cat, one of my host's neighbors. We happened upon her after our walk, and tried hard to convince her to come a bit closer for a hello. In vain. She's a lovely black cat with bright green eyes.
I dined very, very well this weekend, and did not have to do any dishes. Delicious chicken dishes, omelettes, salmon, all with imaginative seasonings. Lots of chatting about all sorts of things, and lots of laughing also filled the days.

All too quickly, it was time to get back to that impressive Union Station, and to hop on a train headed back up to New York City.

I usually show you all a bit of my own city, but this time I have given you just a quick glimpse of another city. Having this quick visit to another beautiful place was great fun.

I'll have to try it again soon.


  1. What a wonderful way to spend a weekend! You are very lucky to have a host in DC. Just last week I read an article in the travel section of our newspaper. It was all about the blossoms in DC and the history of the trees. Thanks for the peek!

  2. What a fun weekend! I'd like to know more about the political problems as we haven't heard anything here in Canada. Time for some surfing.

  3. Such an interesting post, Frances, which brought back happy memories of doing that NY to Washington train ride myself years ago (and the wonderful Union station!). And I'm so glad you enjoyed the Gauguin - I'm still kicking myself for having missed it here in London (though it was some small consolation to read in all the reviews that the crowds at the Tate were so bad it was difficult to see much). It sounds, despite the weather, like a perfect weekend - so glad the politicians made it all happen in the end!

  4. Sounds like a lovely trip, cultured and relaxing in equal measure!

  5. Frances, what a lovely weekend you had. It must have been so refreshing, despite the weather, to be in a different city, seeing different things.

    How lovely to be able to visit the Gauguin exhibition. There are some of his paintings in a little town here called Pont Aven, which was a centre for the Impressionists.

    The cherry blossom must have been very poignant somehow, beautiful, but bringing such sad thoughts of Japan.

    Thank you for another lovely visit.

  6. Quite envious of your weekend - no, make that very envious of your weekend. I missed the Gaugin in London too unfortunately. Should have made more effort.

    How wonderful to see blossom and fresh leaves again - we've gone from chilly to hot in the last few days. Doubt if it will last though.

    Hope you revitalised and ready for whatever retailing in NY throws at you!

  7. Lucky you, two great cities readily available. Culture, friendship, conversation, plants, all thrown in for free.

    The fact that you make the most of it and enjoy it all so much makes me hope that you can have similar outings again soon.

    In the meantime, enjoy spring in NY.

  8. What a lovely respite from NYC!
    It sounds just perfect.
    Except that you did not eat crabcakes at The Market Lunch in Eastern Market...
    But now you have an excuse to go back soon.
    In love with Coco, the fraidy cat..
    And Union Station is just grand isn't it..

  9. I've never visited Washington DC - looks interesting and very different from NY.

    There's nothing like a quick fix of Gauguin - a dash of primrose yellow next to indigo - woooo!

    I didn't catch the Tate show last year, but still remember the vast Post Modern exhibition many many years ago and being bowled over by the Gauguins!

    Shame you didn't get closer to the little black cat - she's one of those aloof moggies - we have one of those ;-)


  10. Never been to Washington, so thanks for the trip! How far is it? You make it sound like 150 miles but it is probably more like 400. Love Gauguin's work - didn't see the London exhibition, sadly. He always appealed to me in my youth - I think I've still a hankering to go running off to Tahiti.

  11. A wonderful trip to the Capital. I've only been in Washington DC once. Spent most of my time in meetings. Hotel was right across the street from the Pentagon. On the free evening I took myself on a tour of key spots in the city. But nothing as nice as what you saw. Glad you didn't get locked out.

  12. Hi Frances,

    You have had a lovely weekend! It's good to hear you liked the Gauguin exhibition. We have seen it as well, but I am not sure anymore where it was. I believe in Amsterdam. I like his colourful paintings. Especially the ones he painted during his stay in Tahiti.

    Enjoy the sun!

    Lieve groet, Madelief

  13. I have to confess Frances, to hating Gaughin with a passion (I'm sorry!) But, it is always lovely to be looked after and to be fed with out having to wash up. What a monumental station that is, it looks vast. Am glad your politicians came to their senses in the end, it was on the main news over here.

  14. Hi Frances, just joining you as I don't want to lose touch with you now I am no longer part of Purplecoo.(Lawyerlady)

  15. It sounds like you had a lovely trip. I've never visted Washington DC even though we lived in the States for three years. I was very cross with myself that I didn't get to see the Gauguin exhibition when it was in London either.

  16. That was a perfect weekend you shared with us in Washington Frances, thank you.

  17. Frances, you're tagged! Over on mine... :) xxxx

  18. Your life is my dream Miss Frances. New York, the beautiful parks, the excitement of the city, now train rides to DC and exhibits. (Sigh) A part of me lives thru your posts.. Of course as a Mom to 4, "MiMi" to 2, I did not miss the notation on not having to do dishes. :) Another dream of mine. Thank you again for the mini vacation.

  19. I have not been to Washington DC in so long.. Looks like you had a nice time. I have never been to the National Museum... Need to make a trip of that some time soon.

  20. What a lovely week-end. How I envy you the Gauguin exhibition.

  21. I would have made a quick dash to
    the Gauguin exhibit and spent time
    at the Italian's show of Venezia.
    I think you visited a war zone
    last week in Washington of which
    the ramnifications of that divided battle of politicians will be felt
    by we American's for decades in
    the negative, but yes the flowers
    doth bloom.
    Truly nice to be an Optomist.

  22. Wow! That looks an amazing weekend. I can't tell you how much I would have loved to see that Gaugin exhibition.


  23. Lovely as always, Frances. I never made it to DC...but feel as if I've seen a little of it through your eyes. Gauguin? How wonderful. I've not even seen an exhibition the once. :( xxxx

  24. hello Frances - lovely to be back reading about your travels and the Gaugin exhibition

  25. Dear Frances,

    What a wonderful weekend away you had, and I am sure a much well earned deserved trip. So wished to have been there with you to see Gauguin, lucky you.!

    Lovely pictures and the pink blossom Frances, thank you for sharing with us.


  26. Frances, A lovely weekend, I am sure you hardly noticed the rain. It is lovely to read how much you packed into a weekend, all good for the soul. You write about it so well, your enthusiasm shines through.

    Lovely to see all the spring flowers too, last post.

  27. How did I miss this pst about your trip?
    Sounds as if you had a really good time.
    Yes, Gaugin has so much more passion than Canaletto.
    I gather that Gaugin was a rather unpleasant person. But what a painter!
    Loved the glimpses of the garden......but missed the fraidy cat!

    Yes, it would be thrilling if we could have a few sunny days in a row.....!

  28. Hi Frances,
    That sounds like the perfect weekend away. Friends, good food and some beautiful art.
    All the best.
    Ingrid x

  29. What a wonderful weekend! Thanks for sharing it with your lovely pictures.
    And thanks for your comment on my blog about the Grasmere Gingerbread recipe in your book! I wonder if it is the ONE? (Is it a sort of biscuit rather than a sort of cake, I wonder, as that's the type we bought!) Have a great week.
    Helen x

  30. Love DC and love your 'reportage' of the weekend. Greetings from Brussels

  31. Thank you for your lovely comment on my blog. I meant 'husband' in a generic way, and didn't want to be exclusive! I have also made hankies from old skirts and shirts of my own, which in fact are far prettier, but didn't have any handy to photograph!

    Pomona x

  32. This was a great trip. I wish more cities would invest in rapid trains. In ten days I am taking a train from Paris to Brussels and it takes less than 1 ½ hours. Unfortunately I think the Republicans are trying to cut the rapid rail incentive. I remember going from Philadelphia to New York when my husband was attending the University of Pennsylvania and it was lovely to be able to see New York often. I have not seen Washington in the spring – it must be spectacular. The last time I was there was in the fall and the gold colors were gorgeous. I think it makes it more special to visit a town when you have a good friend to visit.