Every once in a summer, the DC area produces a day or two of absolutely glorious weather which, like a postdiluvian rainbow, seems to atone for months of humid atrocities. We are in such a pocket of unspeakable wonder this week, so I pulled it together and got us out for the picnic Fluffy’s been asking for all summer.
I had intended to picnic in a more picturesque area of the National Mall, but everyone was so hungry we just plopped down in front of the scaffolded Washington Monument and got our sandwich on.
Then we headed to the “Weeeee!”-inducing National Carousel. Fluffy picked the Cherry Blossom Festival horse. Good choice.
This picture was taken pre-Weeee!-induction:
The carousel is conveniently located near the awesome rose garden at the Smithsonian castle that I hadn’t been to yet this summer.
I tried letting everyone stop to smell the roses, but when that turned into Peppers very nearly diving headfirst into the wishing fountain, the boys got strapped back into the stroller.
Favorite smell of the day: Granada rose. Yellow on the inside, pink on the outside, very strong fruity fragrance. Love it. (See Peppers in the background? Yeah. That.)
As if those crazy plants with the polka dot leaves weren’t enough…
Fluffy wanted to see a museum, so I took her to the Sackler and the subterraneanly connected Freer. You know, the lesser Smithsonians? Saw some very cool Iranian metalwork, Korean sculpture, and Himalayan carvings.
I am particularly fond of these museums because no one else is. You can really have the place mostly to yourself even in the summer which is good when you have multiple two-year-olds who respond to your repeated pleas to “Shhh! Whisper!” not by lowering their voices, but by folding their arms (a la Church). Fortunately, in the Sackler, that’s close enough.
The other reason for going to the Freer is that it’s the third Thursday of the month! You know what that means, right? Open shutter Thursday, woohoo! Please tell me there is some nerd out there who knows I’m referring to the Freer’s policy of keeping the Peacock room’s shutters closed every single day except the third Thursday of the month.
The Peacock room is a blue and gold, art deco-meets-Oriental gentleman’s dining room originally from the home of shipping magnate Frederick Leyland. It was designed by Thomas Jeckyll to display Leyland’s extensive Chinese porcelain collection and hand painted by James McNeill Whistler (That dude who painted Whistler’s mother? aka, Whister’s mother’s son? The same.). After Jeckyll left the project, Whistler went hog wild on it adding more design elements and custom paint flourishes and eventually overspending his budget by the equivalent of $200,000. Leyland only gave him half of that. So Whistler finished the room off with a mural of two fat golden peacocks fighting over golden coins. Get it? Get it?
Another fun fact: When the room was cleaned and moved, they scrubbed a thick layer of cigar tar off the ceiling of this gentleman’s dining room and found that rather than being brown, the ceilings were covered in handpainted peacock feathers.
What a wonderful day in the city! The only way it could have been more perfect is if I hadn’t forgotten to bring our library summer reading club coupons for Krispy Kreme. We may have to head back in tomorrow!
Try this outing:
Difficulty level: Moderate. Both the Sackler and the Freer are multi-level labrynths that are difficult to navigate. Add to that the complexity of trying to find the three separate elevators you may need with a stroller, and you get moderate difficulty.
- Peacock room is unshuttered (and therefore much easier to see) on the third Thursday of each month.
- The gardens around the Smithsonian castle are really worth exploring. Beware though, the Italian fountain garden looks precisely like a spraygrounds fountain and will be used as such by toddlers.
- Both the Sackler and Freer galleries are free. Though one is “Freer” than the other! Anyone? Anyone?
Fluffy Fun Factor (Preschooler Rating): Okay. I liked it. Not one of my favorite museums. The flowers were beautifully smelly.