These seagulls found the last remaining ice floating on the Tidal Basin for a rest and some fishing. It may be tough to see but one of our gull friends had just plucked a live catfish out for breakfast — only to find the gulls from each side of the iceberg jumping onto his part of the berg, casting the whole flotilla to begin drifting precariously toward the sea wall. While we didn’t wait for the crash, we did observe that these squawking friends appeared unconcerned even though their perch was about to slam into a decaying concrete wall. Their eyes only see the sky above, when their beaks are not pecking frenetically into their subdued prey. Within weeks, this scene will burst with a frenzy of pink blossoms; but grey washes out all color — grey sky, grey water, grey birds.
Late last fall I began posting photos on Instagram with the tag #morning view. Every morning we head out for a hike or long walk to start the day with clear minds, and check-in on the characters that we’ve grown accustomed to on these treks.
But at some point over the last month, as I struggle to write anything but lesson plans it occurred to me that my material was obvious: #morningview needed a plan too. Since we’ve been unable to travel during the Pandemic, our roaming has and continues to be much closer to home than usual — but the amount of material within 50 miles of home is immense. So I thought to myself maybe I should write what I see everyday, instead of waiting for those bigger trips; it’s rare a day goes by that I don’t take at least one photo so here we go. For now, I’ll start where we are and work backward to the beginning of the year. Fingers crossed, this project will have a bigger purpose soon.
Jefferson in the Mist: February 3. Freezing fog, ice on the Tidal Basin.
Cold and damp to the bone day, but hovering around freezing as we head out for this trek. Some days we have a particular route we want to take on these outings, or a particular goal. For this day, it was all about capturing the fog as best we could as it hovered on top of the monuments. It’s easy to see the the swirling and shifting patterns in the ice – that moment, or many moments over the last few weeks where time stood still and this usually fluctuating basin for the Potomac and snapped it into place. For weeks on end the water moves with the tides that roar up and down the Potomac; but for now time is suspended while the sheet of ice captures all that moves.
Dense fog encircled the Jefferson on this day and I think back to a few times I’ve been stuck in airports due to freezing fog like this — because it’s hard to hear the usual soaring upward roar of jets taking off from nearby National Airport (I will always use the original name). Jets may well be taking off for that sunshine above the clouds, but silence reigns on this day. Our usual helicopter friends from Marine One to Eagle One and news choppers are also silent – no whirring, thwap thwap just above the tree-line, as visibility is below zero. On this day, silence is omnipresent – except for our shrieking at the awesomeness of the ice (wishing we had some sticks to poke it) and witnessing the suspension of time.