We decided to travel to Washington, D.C. this April break, just for something a little different. Our kids have been getting more and more interested in American history–and are always interested in natural history–so this seemed like a good option.
Like with visits to any city, our days were packed. We hit two to three major sites per day, and went to both the National Zoo and the National Museum of the American Indian twice. We ate such a variety of cuisine that by the end, the kids were begging us for “regular food.” Thanks to the magic of pedometers, we knew we walked between eight and ten miles every day. We talked about war, slavery, racism, genocide, patriotism, climate change, presidents, and that the heart of America is hope. We squinted at the names on the Declaration of Independence. We answered the question “Was he a good president?” approximately 752 times. In short, we had a grand, exhausting, educational time.
But there were constant reminders that we didn’t belong there. We couldn’t stop tut-tutting over the trash on the streets. Despite our best efforts–and the fact that I used to live there–we kept getting sighed at for holding up lines on the Metro. And then there was the dirt: we ended each day filthier than we are after a day spent outside hiking or fishing. But mostly it was the noise. The constant, constant noise. Sirens every few minutes, helicopters circling overhead, cars honking, people yelling…I started to feel like the Grinch yelling “One thing I can’t stand is the noise, noise, noise, noise!” At least once a day, one of the kids would cover up their ears and ask “Why is it so loud?”
When we drove back into Maine, we cheered upon crossing the Piscataqua River Bridge, just like we always do. It has been damp, chilly and rainy since our return–a hard contrast to the sunshine and flowers we experienced down south. But the snowbanks are gone and the crocuses are up. The Canadian geese that like to nest on an island in our frog pond are back and the peepers have started up. But best of all, when we step outside, we can hear the birds as well as see them.
It’s so quiet.
It’s good to be home.