Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas in the Washington, D.C. Latvian Lutheran Church

Christmas 2015 was a bit unusual for me, as I was still in Washington on Christmas Eve; other years I had always flown to the Midwest before that, seeing as we traditionally celebrate the holiday on Christmas Eve itself. Last year, however, various reasons caused me to buy a flight to Michigan only for Christmas Day, but that meant I was able to attend the Christmas Eve service in Washington's Latvian congregation. It was an absolutely beautiful service, with a gorgeous vocal solo by a singer who used to sing with the Latvian National Opera choir, and with the congregation's hymns accompanied by both the organ in the balcony and the grand piano at the front of the sanctuary.

As we sang the last song, Silent Night, the sanctuary's lights were turned off until only candles and the Christmas tree remained illuminated.
May you and yours have a peaceful and beautiful Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

As I often like to point out, the Washington area has a plethora of fantastic sights to see. In the 17 years I have lived in the region, I am still visiting great places for the first time! For example, earlier this summer a friend and I took time to explore the Basilica of the National Shrine. Another beautiful spot in Northeast Washington is the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, a small national park which is so unusual that it is featured on the postal stamps which were released in June to celebrate the National Park Service's 100th anniversary. Two of my friends had lived near the gardens for several years, but even they had not managed to check out this hidden gem, so the three of us headed there on a very warm and sunny weekend morning. Wow -- we were all disappointed we'd not made it there earlier! So beautiful!

Other than many ponds with beautiful blossoms, the gardens also have a great boardwalk out into a marsh and a trail to the Anacostia River.
Us tall folk had to be extra cautious here!
From April 1 throught October 31, the gardens are open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. I recommend going first thing in the morning when the gardens are in bloom, as there is little protection from the hot Washington sun, and lots of competition from ideal photographs from other photographers and visitors.
The gardens are also open the rest of the year from 8:00am to 4:00pm. There is no entrance fee, which is always a bonus! When you arrive, be sure to check on the climate change observation post near the entrance. Take photos from each of the prescribed positions, and submit them to help scientists track changes in our climate!