Sunday, May 20, 2018

Planners Gotta Plan

As weekends away go, it had everything.

A fair amount of rain, yes, but also my first time on the National Gallery of Art's East Building rooftop terrace (yes, the one with the bright blue rooster sculpture) overlooking Constitution Avenue's puddle-slicked lanes. To the right, the Capital seemed close enough to touch.

Truth is, I've been devoted to the National Gallery since fourth grade and it can still thrill me with something new or different.

Art, natch, with the NGA's "Cezanne: Portraits" - surely never did a man repeatedly portray his wife in such a dour manner -  and the captivating newish Calder Gallery where I saw Piet Mondrian's influence on Calder's painting for the first time. The lighting in the gallery masterfully cast shadows on mobiles and stabiles, in many cases (see: "The Rearing Stallion") rendering shadows that looked quite different from the source.

Let's just say the Calder fan with me was transported.

There was the new-to-my mouth neighborhood of Del Ray where we sipped Hillinger Secco Rose at the Evening Star's atmospherically dark lounge and ate in a former house, now the farm-to-table (and French) Del Ray Cafe, which got bonus points when it seemed that every server spoke multiple languages, depending on which table they were speaking to. Or perhaps my head was turned by the chocolate beignets with orange creme anglaise accompanied by glasses of Port.

That's my kind of final course.

This trip definitely had fog. Walking toward the mall mid-morning, we found the Washington monument so shrouded in fog that its top third appeared lost in the atmosphere. Later, at Hank's Oyster Bar for Montand Brut Rose, gazpacho and tuna tartare, TV screens showed us an eerily foggy racetrack with horses being trotted out at Pimlico.

My Dad would be so proud if he knew I saw even a few minutes of one of his favorite sports. I mean, what girl-child doesn't remember going with her father to get a copy of The Racing Form from the drugstore?

Succulent cobia collar (and a charming server from Ukraine) were the bright spot at Vermilion, a place that could take itself a lot less seriously but is too self-involved to realize such a thing. At least the company was superb.

Architecture came courtesy of a private tour of the Pope-Leighey House, one of Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian (one story, affordable, small) houses, a tour given by a man so deeply involved with the house that he'd made some of the furniture reproductions in the house.

There were many things about the house that impressed me, not the least of which was a screened porch complete with screened roof that the original owners had used as a place for the kids to play while Mom cooked dinner. Child cage, screened porch, potatoes, potahtoes, call it what you like. It was a magnificent outdoor room.

I was told I got the star treatment when our guide opened up the dining room's two corner windows - yes, they were floor to ceiling windows - out into the yard. Apparently, most visitors don't get those windows opened so they can walk out them the way god and Frank Lloyd Wright intended.

We'll call that good birthday karma, although not mine.

A driving tour of mid-century modern neighborhood Hollin Hills provided an up-close look at what happens when a neighborhood association takes pains to insure that such concentrated housing stock stays true to its origins. House after house looked pretty much as it had been designed in the '40s, a startling reality in 2018.

As a fan of complementary colors, I found the bright yellow car parked in front of a low-slung purple house with clerestory windows especially fetching.

A meandering drive down the Parkway and along Route 1 (please, can we just take down those Jefferson Davis Highway signs and be done with it?) landed us in Fredericksburg by mid-afternoon, where we first tried out a rooftop deck before switching to the patio for the sake of being able to order brick oven pizza and wile away the hours discussing baseball, feminist writers and the definition of romance.

When our server discovered there was a birthday celebrant at the table, she offered up the traditional birthday cannoli (you know the one), a kind offer, but one which neither Taurus nor Gemini had room for after an elegant sufficiency of two pies, an arugula salad and a memorable weekend.

Next step: rinse and repeat.

I'm doing my best to hang on, but it's looking like it's going to be a wild ride. And I mean that in the best possible way.

No comments:

Post a Comment