Just a quick jaunt out to the Shenandoah…Not a big photography day, but a day for reconnaissance. Plans are being made for cooler, less crowded weekends.
During this crazy summer of transition I was treated to a outing with friends that mirrored some of our experiences in Brussels together. Sherry, now retired and living in DC, and Sarah, visiting from her home base in New York, invited me to explore the museum and gardens of Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown.
This early 20th century estate houses the art collections and libraries of Robert and Mildred Bliss. The house and its treasures now belong to Harvard University, providing a place for scholarship to those whose interests lie in Byzantine and Pre-Columbian Art, as well as garden design and landscape architecture.
In 1944, the Music Room was the site of talks that laid the groundwork for the creation of the United Nations, producing the United Nations Charter that would be adopted by the member countries in San Francisco the following year. (The above pictures do the room no justice! I was harried by a tour of 9 year old scholars!)
For me the highlight of the day were the gardens. While the house was gifted to Harvard, the grounds and carefully crafted Italian gardens were gifted to the National Park Service. Entrance to the park is from a completely different location than the house and a nominal $10 entrance fee is charged to those wanting to wander the grounds (entry into the museum’s galleries is free).
Mildred Bliss worked closely with Beatrix Ferrand to create the gardens and the result is a wondrous place to both appreciate the artistry of the garden’s designs and to take in the beauty of nature all around you. I highly recommend a trip to Dumbarton Oaks to anyone living in, or visiting, D.C. You can find more information on their website here.
There was so much more to see, but with the forecast calling for storms within the hour, our time was cut short. In fact, we only made it as far as the guard’s canopy before the skies opened up. After a brief wait we continued on our way to M street and the nearest Irish Pub for a beer.
I am grateful for friends who also enjoy exploring the cities around us and digging up the gems that so often go unnoticed during our time in the area. Our day evoked, for me, memories of exploring ancient chateaus, 12th century monastery ruins, quaint shops, and the natural wonders around Belgium. I may not have access to those sites anymore, but I still have access to good friends who share my curiosity and love of adventure. I now have a job that will take up a good portion of my time, but I do hope to see a lot more of this in the coming months of our D.C. tour.
Life in the Foreign Service is fairly unpredictable. Like the old saying goes, change is the only constant in life. And in the FS, that fact is ever more prominent. So here we are now, barely 10 months in to our posting in Nassau, and the winds of change have once again shifted. In less than a month we will pick up anchor and the dog, and sail for DC. This will be the first time in nearly 2 decades we have lived in the US and while some see it as “going home” it will be as foreign to us as anywhere they could send us. However that is a story for another time.
When you start a new posting, you think you have time to see and experience everything. In a place like Nassau, New Providence Island – an island only HALF the size of Tulsa OK! – you run the danger of exploring it all way too soon. There were many things on my to do list – one of them exploring Bonefish Pond by kayak or paddle board. Fortunately we did get to see what little you can by foot.
Bonefish Pond National Park, nestled in the middle of New Providence’s southern coast, is 1235 acres of coastal wetland.
Established in 2002, it acts as a buffer from dangerous storm surge for communities in the south and provides a safe habitat for young marine and bird life.
Bonefish Pond is one of the last remaining mangrove areas on the island and is home to several species of the plant.
The Bahamas National Trust conducts many programs with local schools and organizations to convey the importance of protecting native habitats such as this and encourage more to enjoy what the natural environment has to offer while safeguarding its future for subsequent generations.
Though it is off the beaten path for many of my peers, it is well worth a visit. Go stroll along the boardwalk, look for fish in the rising or receding tides, and do a bit of bird watching in hopes of catching a glimpse of the many birds listed on the informational boards.
Or you could just spend a little time sitting on the steps of the gazebo, with your feet dangling in the water and meditating on what you would like the world to look like when you return to real life.
Honestly just looking at the sky is reason enough to spend some time in Bonefish Pond National Park.
It’s a great place to take a breath when the winds of change suddenly uproot your newly planted life.
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