Posts Tagged ‘The Netherlands Carillon’

Types of Cherry Blossom People

While I was spending time at the Tidal Basin again this afternoon I couldn’t help but notice there were almost as many people there today as cherry blossoms. And while some people were there to truly appreciate the beauty of the annual diva-ish spectacle, others in the crowd seemed to be there for other reasons. Some of these people probably saw it as the “in” thing to do, and they didn’t want to feel left out. Some were students on school field trips, and were simply glad to be outside of the confines of their classrooms. Some were members of out-of-town tour groups who seemed to be there so they could check it off their bucket lists.  And many seemed to be there just for a quick photo-op, so that they could then post a photo of the blossoms or, better yet, themselves with the blossoms, on social media.  They seemed like they were in such a hurry.  And instead of being present in the moment, these people mostly looked at the blossoms through camera lenses and cell phone screens, like they probably do with most events in theirs and their children’s lives.

But as I said, some people who were there seemed to truly appreciate the beauty. There were artists with their easels set up just off the beaten path, using paint and their imaginations to put their interpretations on canvasses. There were writers and poets lazily jotting down their impressions in leather-bound journals. There were musicians performing for others, or for just themselves, enjoying the setting in which they performed. There were also older couples on benches holding hands, and younger couples on the grass under the trees, sitting quietly with each other and simply gazing at the blossoms. Still others were leisurely strolling around and taking in the beauty that surrounded them before slowly moving on to take in even more. These are the kind of people who I saw there previously, witnessing the future promise of the emerging green buds, or the gnarly beauty of the trunks of the aged trees before they got all dressed up in their white and pink early-spring attire. They are the people who also enjoy the lesser-known but equally beautiful local sites like the colorful azaleas at the U.S. National Arboretum, the bright tulips near the Netherlands Carillon, the seasonal offerings available at The National Park Service’s Floral Library, and the flowering dogwood trees on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol Building. These people added to the atmosphere rather than just adding to the crowd. They were there to contemplate and be captivated by the beauty, and not just there to attend an event.

While every person had their own story and reason for being there, the people seemed to fall into two general categories. And these two types of people usually go through their entire lives in the same way they spent their time today at The Tidal Basin. One type will have temporary memories that fade into obscurity as quickly as the cherry blossoms and crowds disappear. At best they will end up with just photographs that capture the opportunity they missed to actually experience in real time the true beauty that was right in front of them.  The other type of person takes with them the memories of the moments they spent today, moments that they experienced rather than moments they chased. And it is these moments that added together make for a beautiful and appreciated life well lived.  What type of person are you?  And is it the type you want to be?

The Netherlands Carillon

The Netherlands Carillon

The daffodils are long gone, and the magnolia blossoms are mostly gone until next year too.  The cherry trees have already peeked, and although there are a few blooming trees remaining they are getting more and more difficult to find.  But there is still a lot of color to be found. After my recent ride to The National Park Service’s Floral Library I was inspired to seek out more spring flowers on this ride.  I found what I was looking for at the Netherlands Carillon.

Adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery and near the United States Marine Corps War Memorial, the Netherlands Carillon is located near the intersection of North Marshall Drive and North Meade Street in Arlington (MAP).  It is in Arlington Ridge Park and administered by the National Park Service as part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway complex.

The Netherlands Carillon was a gift from the people of the Netherlands to the people of the United States in 1954, given to thank the United States for its defense and aid during and after World War II.

The carillon’s bell tower is an open steel structure and is approximately 131 feet tall.  It contains 50 bells which combined weigh almost 31 tons.  A staircase leads to a glass-enclosed observatory platform and playing console about 82 feet from the ground.  The carillon plays Westminster Chimes on the hour and plays American patriotic music twice daily.  Special songs are played on May 5 (Dutch Liberation Day),on July 4 (Independence Day), on September 2 (V-J Day), and on Thanksgiving Day.  Other concerts and recitals are also performed on the carillon throughout the summer.

Tulips bloom from early April to the first week of May in the D.C. area, and the grounds of the Netherlands Carillon are particularly beautiful at this time, but a bike ride to the Netherlands Carillon is worthwhile at any time of the year.

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