Yesterday I made a quick trip to Dumbarton Oaks to see whether the snowdrops were out. I thought they might be earlier this year, as it has been so warm with the exception of the deep freeze around Christmas. The guard at the entrance told me that snowdrops were indeed out near the kitchen gardens.
I looked first on the south lawn where they often bloom, but there were only a few single blossoms. My next investigation was the flowering quince, which is so magical when it blooms that I rarely get a good picture of it. It was starting flower buds, so I’ll go back in a few weeks to check on it.
From there, I made my way toward the kitchen gardens. I knew the meadow the guard had referred to. And there were indeed snowdrops, winter aconite, and a few early crocuses. It was a lovely late afternoon and a relief to see these midwinter portents of change.
From them, I wandered to cherry hill, where I could see small buds on the cherry trees and eyed the forsythia thicket for signs of developing bloom.
It was a quick visit, but I also ran by the back lawn, where there was an installation called The Brier Patch. Like many of the art installations I have seen here, it was thought provoking and perfectly suited to the site. It was intended to reflect the briar patch in American culture, where one might get in trouble or find safety, drawing a connection to schools as a similar place. A link to information on the artist and the exhibit can tell you more. You can also search Dumbarton Oaks on this blog to see other art installations.
The Brier Patch references racial inequality and made me think of Horse by Geraldine Brooks, which I had recently read. It is the story of the most successful race horse in history, told through modern fictional characters and historical characters from the 1850’s to the 1870’s. It shows modern and historical racism and illuminates the history of enslaved horse trainers and jockeys in US racing. It is well-researched and well structured, told through the different voices in different chapters. It’s also just a rip roaring good read and I recommend it for the complexity of its characters and the richness of the story.
Cheers to everyone! I hope you’re having a good week!