November 25, 2013

Late Autumn Beauty: Garden, Neighborhood, Life

The idea for today's post came during Sunday's 4am "joy of quiet" time. At 11am, I ventured outside with my camera, even if the wind chill factor WAS 15 degrees. I'm not complaining; I much prefer these cold days to the swelter of July. On this cold morning, I returned to my warm house feeling invigorated. In the summer, I come back feeling totally wiped out.

My Home Garden
The side yard still shows some color:

So does the back yard. On Saturday -- a "warmer" day -- I cleared the pond of leaves.

The Palisades Neighborhood
I love my neighborhood, and Sunday provided just another "why." I made the three-minute drive to the weekly farmer's market next to the Safeway's parking lot. Figs, the Lebanese restaurant/carryout I visit often, is just across the boulevard from the parking lot. At each place, I stocked up on provisions that will provide healthful meals for this non-cook until Thanksgiving. And at each stop, merchants greeted me as "John" or "Mr. Schappi."

Driving home, I stopped for a brief walk in Battery Kemble Park, which opens off MacArthur Boulevard, our "Main Street." Coming toward me in the shot below is a mother, with a child and dog. On my Battery Kemble walks, I'm the oddball solitary walker.But I'm used to being the oddball.

Into the park -- with the cold weather -- it felt like the Maine woods.

Across the boulevard is the historic "Little Red School House." Beyond, the park stretches down to the Potomac River.

The weather was so lovely (ha!) that I drove a few extra minutes to visit my favorite street in the Palisades -- Potomac Avenue, which runs along the bluff above the Potomac River. The winds that ushered in this Artic front took down most of the remaining leaves. But the bare trees now reveal Chain Bridge that connects DC with the Virginia palisades:

I made one more stop before heading home: the neighborhood's historic brothel. The spot from which I took the photo below had been a stop on the Cabin John trolley that ran from downtown DC, through Georgetown, and on to the Glen Echo amusement park just across the Maryland line.

This location was once an open-air dance pavilion, a popular warm-weather stop on the trolley line. Later, the structure was turned into a house for more private and intimate pursuits.

Needless to say, the original house did not have the solar energy panels on the roof, evident in the photo above. Nor did it have the bee hives the current owners maintain in the garden. But -- in a nod to the house's unusual history -- the jars of honey produced here sport this label: 

Late Autumn: A Beautiful Time of Life, Too
I won't belabor the analogy. But like the trees with their disappearing leaves, I've also been on a "less is more" campaign, eager to reduce my possessions and simplify my life.

There's one exception to that campaign: family and friends. More than ever in my life, I feel supported by the people I love. For me, that particular bounty makes this late autumn feel more like April in Paris.

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