Sunday, September 03, 2006

Hello Ernesto

Even the tail of a hurricane is no regular storm.

The winds are nowhere near hurricane force, but they’re somehow more dense than a regular storm’s, full of momentum, like a rushing army. Mature trees shiver to their roots and howl in their branches.

I took my kids to Teddy Roosevelt Island on Friday afternoon. I don’t really know what I was hoping my kids would see, churning water, whitewater around the pylons of the bridge, sunken trees, a parking lot underwater, I don’t know. Partly, I think, I just wanted to know we weren’t afraid of a little rain.

The parking lot was empty. And so protected in shorts, T-shirts, sandals, rain coats, and a Disney princess and a Batman umbrella, we clambered out of the VW as the last two runners (there are always runners) fled the island. A folded blue umbrella stroller with a towel for emergencies clutched inside was my walking stick on this adventure. I told my kids to hold tight to their umbrellas. At the top of the bridge, my 6-year-old daughter told me the wind was almost pulling her off her feet. From there we could see that the river wasn’t overly high despite threats of flashfloods, and as we approached the island, I kept looking to the water for the beaver I saw there a few years back.

I spotted a turtle in the water, a gray body just visible and the dark point of a head sticking out, near a tree that hung so low, its leaves were in the water. By the time I got the kids looking in the right direction, the turtle had disappeared, so we left the bridge.

Mainly, what we saw on the island was stuff we see anywhere, only wet, very wet. All the trees stooped and drew the canopy lower.

But we hadn’t been there in years, and we hadn’t been there when the wind was loud enough to make me think I was hearing a train in Rosslyn before I realized there was no train above ground in Rosslyn. And I don’t think I, or we, had ever been there when we were pretty sure we were the only people on the island, with a potential flashflood to cut us off from the mainland. When Hazel said, “What’s that!” and pointed to Roosevelt’s statue through the branch of a low-hanging tree, it had all the feeling of exploring the rainforest and stumbling upon the dais of some lost religion.

It was serene, though rainy, and we watched a duck paddle the reflecting pool as large drops of water fell from a tree to splash and leave bubbles like snow globes on the pond’s surface. The fountains ran on as if by magic with water that blossoms and subsides to overfill giant urns.

By now, my thoughts had turned back to the river that was probably rising, and the kids were cold.

On the bridge, I saw again the turtle and watched as it plooped underwater before the kids had a chance to see it. “Maybe he only wants grown-ups to see him,” my 4-year-old Harry said. I laughed, and we stood there near the middle of the bridge looking for it, and then we saw it back near the tree where I’d first noticed it. When we left, one other car had parked at the other end of the parking lot.

Department of Corrections…

Turns out the
Arlington Connection Newspaper is available, free, to anyone who wants it in Arlington. I wrote last post that I couldn’t get a free local paper in Buckingham, but I can. I simply called their subscription number (703-917-6465) and signed myself up. (Thanks to Miles who commented and publisher Mary Kimm who emailed to put me onto this bargain!)

I’ve beaten up on the
Sun Gazette a lot lately, but I never thanked Scott McCaffrey publicly for putting this blog on the political notes column of the paper two issues ago. I’m sure not just a few people swung over at least once to check out this site. Pardon my rudeness, Scott.


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