Fifty Shades of DC

The prolonged winter in DC is over. This past week, the temperature has consistently been around 60F. And the once chilly and aloof DC starts to strike people with its cuteness by offering thousands of cherry blossoms and magnolias. 

After work, I took a walk at the Washington Monument and WWII Memorial. That was the first time I visited the park since I came to DC this semester (last time I was only 12 years old and didn’t remember that much). I kind of deliberately saved it until now so that the grass, flowers and warm breeze could balance the frosty glow from the white marble. And it worked out well:

Because we just had probably the coldest winter in DC for the past 20 years (my colleague, a 25-year-old DC native, told me that he didn’t remember having such a cold winter since he was 5), the cherry blossoms were delayed for quite some time. Typically, they should have reached peak bloom around late March. Well, the good thing is that the spring semester students (like us, UC Merced, Umich, and Carnegie Mellon students) came back from our spring break to experience the blossoms in full swing. I’ve asked several friends from DC to suggest some spots to see cherry trees and here is what I got:

1. The Tidal Basin. Of course. If you’ve seen a picture of the Jefferson Memorial or the Washington Monument through blooming cherry trees, it’s probably taken from the Tidal Basin. But it can be very crowded as people from all over the country (and in some cases, the world) come to share the beautiful view.

2. Stanton Park. Near Capitol Hill. Less crowded than the famous Tidal Basin.

3. Meadowlark Botanical Garden. Located in Vienna, Virginia. 25 min drive from UCDC Center. Or take the Red/Silver Lines to the Vienna Station and then use Uber/Lyft.

Now that spring has come, it’s almost time to say goodbye to DC. I will be moving out at the end of next week and will go on an East Coast campus tour that has been long overdue. But I somehow know that I’ll come back at some point. Maybe as a graduate student, or as a researcher at some think tank, or staff at some advocacy group. In any case, I have the feeling that more stories are yet to come between me and this legendary city.


Summer Dong is a UC Berkeley senior studying political science and history. She is interning at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC as a Matsui Washington Fellow.