It may be hard to believe, but there’s more to the nation’s capital than politics. And some of the best things to do here are free.
In spite of the chill last Saturday my niece Katey, my friend Laura, and I decided to head down to the mall and have a girls’ day at the museums. The first stop on my list was the Smithsonian’s American History Museum to see Sandra Cisneros’s installation of “A Room of Her Own: My Mother’s Altar” in the tradition of Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
Cisneros has been one of my favorite Mexican American authors since I discovered her wonderful little book, The House on Mango Street, many years ago. After three decades, this book is still being taught everywhere, from elementary schools to universities. This story, written in a series of vignettes about a young girl growing up in a Latino neighborhood in Chicago, inspired me to try the vignette style for my own book, To Come and Go Like Magic, about a young girl growing up in Appalachia.
There was no way to get a photo of the complete exhibit with my IPhone without capturing a whole bunch of people in the pic, but you can go to the link above and get a better appreciation of this lovely altar with its flowers and candles and antiques and all the foods and photos of her mother and the people she loved.
People watching is always fun in the summer, but it was way too cold to sit on a park bench and imagine the lives of passersby. We did stop for a few minutes, however, to watch the skaters in front of the National Archives.
Then we “danced” in the cold over to the National Gallery of Art to see Degas’s Little Dancer. The National Gallery has the largest and most important collection of Degas’s surviving original wax sculptures in the world. Its wax version of Little Dancer Aged Fourteen is the only one formed by the artist’s own hands and the only sculpture he ever showed publicly.
(Note: This exhibition is presented in conjunction with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ world-premiere musical Little Dancer, which runs from October 25 through November 30, 2014.)
We strolled through the halls of the Dutch masters and then briefly visited my favorite “old friends,” the French Impressionists — Pissarro, Renoir, Cezanne, Monet — before pausing to wave goodbye to Vincent on our way out.
The sun was going down and it was getting colder and we were lucky to hop onto the Metro right away. By the time the lights came on we were drinking latte at the Starnut Gourmet.
Time to go home and flop, right? Not tonight. We finished the evening in Ecuador — traveling from the Andes to the Amazon with these terrific musicians at the Alden Theater. Andes Manta…
It’s possible to spend a whole day in DC and not think about politics at all. It’s also possible to travel around the world in a day. That’s one of the things I love most about living here. After four decades in this city, I still find new things to do and still enjoy revisiting favorite places.