June 15, 2004

Tiger Lilies

I am one of the fortunate commuters who gets to drive on the George Washington Memorial Parkway. It offers a scenic and speedy route to Old Town Alexandria where I work three days a week. We live but a mile or two from Mount Vernon Estate which is at the southern end of the Parkway. It follows the Potomac River from Mount Vernon to Great Falls where it terminates at the Capital Beltway (the Beltway is best to avoid unless one likes sitting in bumper to bumper traffic no matter what the time of day).

The Parkway has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, they used to close off the northbound lanes from Mount Vernon to Alexandria every so often for the public to ride their bikes. My family used to take many bike rides together as a weekend activity. Riding on the Parkway was always special because it was awesome to have whole lanes to occupy and it just felt cool. In 1973, a bike trail was constructed so kids today don't get the opportunity to swerve madly across the lanes and enjoy the bumpity-bump-bump of the seams in the concrete pavement.

Also on the Parkway is a favorite place where we often hung out during my high school years: Fort Hunt Park. Well, I hung out there at other times too, like for Girl Scout camp and other youthful gatherings. But it was hanging out there during high school when we really had adventures. The kind you don't want your parents to ever find out about, if you know what I mean. As the name suggests, the park is the home of an old fort which was originally a coastal defense built in 1897. I always enjoyed exploring the old buildings and such. Fort Washington is just across the river in Maryland and that's a fun place to explore also.

I noticed today on my way home from work the tiger lilies are in bloom. That means it's Summer. When the purple flowers bloom on the trees, it signifies to me Spring has officially arrived and there will be no more cold snaps. You can probably guess I know Fall has arrived when the leaves, well, fall. But Winter has always been my all-time favorite. The trees are bare and the river grim and icy. I find the vistas inspiring no matter what the season, but Winter on the Parkway moves me like no other. And no matter what the season, driving the Parkway means I'm close to home and it never fails to comfort me.

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