“Oh, it’s iced over.”
Amy and I were walking by the Capitol Reflecting Pool, on our way to Air and Space to catch a bus to the new annex in Dulles. It was bright and sunny, but the temperature being just about freezing, a good section of the pool was covered with thin ice.
Seagulls stood atop the ice, some walking gingerly across it to avoid falling through, while more reckless birds freely hopped from spot to spot, occasionally splashing about as their feet punched freezing holes in the surface. Some hovered just inches over the ice like moon landers, flapping their wings till they landed just so, with only the slightest skid. Others, however, careened in at oblique angles, landing and skidding and skating and colliding with other seagulls. Squawky birdfights ensued, and suddenly ended as the ice collapsed under their slipping, sliding webbed feet, and the birds were forced to flap away from the gap of freezing water that had formed.
The whole time, a strong breeze had picked up, and the ice had begun to move south, the whole scene drifting away from us toward the center of the Reflecting Pool. Amy and I could have stood there for hours, I think, just watching seagulls on the ice and laughing together at them, but we had a bus to catch.
We spent the day at the Udvar-Hazy Center, looking at bombers and biplanes and Concordes and space shuttles. It was fun, and as I looked at Amy that day, I realized just how precious it is to love and be loved someone who can enjoy seagulls and space shuttles alike.
(Photos of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center coming soon.)