Jan 23, 2008

Ramblin' Rose

Three days and 1200 miles is a bit much, but circumstance has brought me back to Charleston to tend to the Newlyweds. The D.I.L. is recuperating from a bit of seriously bad food poisoning with complications, and my poor son has been baptized in the fearful worry of being unable to do much except worry. Hearing his helpless concern made all my Primordial "Mom" memories kick in. It's a visceral feeling one would have to place at the beginning of Time; scary and powerful to feel after one's bear-cubs are grown. Pitiless and fearless against any threat when one has little ones in the crib.

The run from Mechanicsville up to D.C. was perfect. Holiday traffic was light in the morning. I slipped the Jetta onto 395 and in a few minutes of twisting turns, rises and runs, there to my left was a city that could easily be mistaken as Immortal; with the Washington Monument gleaming the crisp ache of a 12-degree morning. I felt a lump of pride and awe in my throat and pressed onward. Following my instincts only, I exited on 12th street, zoomed down and under a tunnel and came up for air at...Constitution Avenue! Crossed over 4 lanes and grabbed the last of a green light, went a couple of blocks and found...a parking place. So busy was I just driving and hunting that I was truly speechless to find myself smack dab in front of the Monument!

I hiked the mall for a bit, but even in all my layers, I was in pain from the cold as my face became a block of ice and my fashionable gloves bought in Florida were all but useless. Breathing into my scarf I dove back into my car (seat warmers! yes!) and cruised a bit, looking for a parking place near the Flight museum. It took a while because the city was now being inundated with a bunch of travelers and buses, priests from Spain, monks in what seemed to be very insufficient insulation-- robes topped with parkas, college kids, cars with slogans, the mall was being prepared. I made a mental note to cut my day a bit short and find lodging well before nightfall. Then I found a space at last, right in front of the museum.

Ladybug Luck was still with me.

Can I just say--OMG? I took a bunch of lousy pics, I'm sure, but the up-close reality of rivets and duct tape that founded and keep our flight and space programs alive is a marvel. Yes, I loved Amelia's Lockheed Vega in my favorite shade of red. I loved the Wright Flyer's painstakingly perfect details and simplicity. But I found myself taking pics of turbines and twelve-bangers and instrument panels, radio assemblies and the spinner shroud of the Spirit of St. Louis.

We are so removed from seat-of-the-pants reliability and engineering. We sit in perfectly upholstered chairs in carpeted cabins and never suspect that somewhere within the mysterious underbelly of the craft, our flight-fate is resting comfortably under a sticky layer of silver tape. It's thrilling and dismaying all at once.

On to the National Gallery!



5 comments:

Mizz E said...

Your post is a lovely respite from the "find a new pilot" frenzy. I look forward to your take on the National Gallery - with photos, I hope.

Anonymous said...

... be careful out there... the last time I was at the National Gallery, they had a huge display of Toulouse-Lautrec photos....

Eric

nonny said...

Take lots of photos!!

Teresa said...

I do hope the DIL is feeling much better very very quickly. Food poisoning... UGH - it's the worst.

Oh one day. One day I will get to the Smithsonian. *sigh* I'm so envious!

Peggy U said...

We are so removed from seat-of-the-pants reliability and engineering.

I love that line, and I couldn't agree more. And I wish I had the '65 Dodge Dart still sitting in the garage!