Jacob and Charlotte Lehrman Foundation Reflection Pool by Hilary Solan
Arlington, Va.—Sometimes storm systems have other plans for travelers. Tropical Storm Hanna recently welcomed me during a water-filled trip to Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia. A weekend’s worth of activities had to be reevaluated and condensed, but what I never would have imagined is that I’d be far better off once I abandoned my rigid itinerary. Saturday’s trip to some historic attractions in Alexandria
was scrapped, and what filled its place was an afternoon spent catching up with friends in Arlington and getting ready for a last-minute dinner party.
Locals are used to such storms, so they are a bit braver than this Midwesterner. What would have kept me inside was reason for them to make plans and ride it out together. Our hostess keep dish after delicious dish coming as we watched the storm weaken, then stop, as the evening went on. It was startling to wake up to the bluest skies and 70-degree weather the following morning. The weekend’s events resumed, but reminders of the storm lingered as I made my way into the District of Columbia.
Tucked into the National Mall, the sculpture garden of the Smithsonian‘s Hirshhorn Museum is home to works by artists from David Smith to Auguste Rodin. As I arrived, it was hard to imagine that just hours before, strong winds had broken arms of my umbrella, yet signs of Hanna emerged after just a few minutes at the garden. The water was high in the Jacob and Charlotte Lehrman Foundation reflection pool, a long, inset piece with a small fountain that sends ripples to the edges. Nearby, the damp grass told the same story.
A quick ride from the Mall later, I was just a few feet away from the giant pandas Mei Xiang, Tian Tian and Tai Shan at the National Zoological Park. Although the three are some of the zoo’s most popular residents, a crowd was gathered around the sea otters, trying to get a better look as the animals dove into the water. Something tells me these little swimmers didn’t mind the rain as much as some of their neighbors at the zoo. Turns out, I didn’t, either. — Hilary Solan