An American Takes a Walk
By Reed Whittemore
In the middle of this life's journey
He came, like Dante, on a wood
The notes said stood for error
But in his case stood for good,
Where his art and prowess left him
And let him become a child
To whom the wild seemed milder
Than his old neighborhood.
Had he, with those abandoned
Sons of fatal decrees,
Then been found by a shepherd
And bred up to shepherdese,
Or retrieved, like Dante, by Virgil
And led through circles and seas
To some brighter country beyond
His annotated trees,
He could not have been more cared for.
Nature was awfully kind.
Hell in that motherly habit
Put hell quite out of mind.
How in that Arden could human
Frailty be but glossed?
How in that Eden could Adam
Really be lost?
We spent a lovely Sunday mostly downtown with Adam and his friend Daniel Wigle, whose parents had gotten us all tickets to the U.S. Navy Band Home for the Holidays concert. Since it's difficult to park in that area when there's a big event and expensive for everyone to take the Metro, we drove down early and walked past the White House, the National Chanukah Menorah, and Occupy DC to the branch of the National Aquarium in the Department of Commerce, which currently has a rescued baby albino alligator as well as the usual animals representing various marine sanctuaries and U.S. waterways. There weren't a lot of people for a Sunday afternoon, so we had no trouble watching the tree frogs, stingrays, turtles, sharks, and puffer fish.
Then we walked to DAR Constitution Hall, meeting up with the Wigles and several other friends of theirs (their two younger sons tried to adopt a woman who had a camera they wanted to play with). The concert was lovely, mostly traditional American holiday songs as opposed to religious songs, though they did the Nigerian "Betelehemu" and the Ladino "Ocho Kandelikas" as well as "Auld Lang Syne" too. We picked up Adam's girlfriend on the way home so they could go over math together and had veggie jambalaya for dinner, then watched the Ravens lose to the Chargers -- we missed the Day of Upsets earlier as the Packers lost, the Colts won, and the Redskins managed to beat the Giants which does not actually make me happy since the Eagles won. Now we're watching news coverage of the deaths of Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong Il, which have overshadowed the Iraq pullout, Israeli prisoner swap, and Republicans being infuriating over payroll tax cuts.
The United States Navy Band performed "Ocho Kandelikas" -- the one Chanukah song of the Home for the Holidays concert.
Pairs, trios, and quartets as well as soloists sang the more than 20 songs.
Occasional letters were read to characterize how sailors feel separated from family at the holidays.
The show also featured dancers...
...and a visit from Santa Claus to remind people to support the troops over the holidays.
A sailor sang "Christmas in the Islands" for troops serving in places where it doesn't look anything like a white Christmas.
On the way to and from the concert, we walked past the National Chanukah Menorah...
...and the White House, decorated for Christmas.