"Test the Ice first, then in life, go for the Gusto"
I've had a lot of great runs abroad and here in DC.
This Christmas eve evening I had the most amazing and thrilling run of my life.
It wasn't supposed to be the GREAT run. After all, my goal was to visit and enjoy the Tree -- the Colorado Blue Spruce that has adorned the center of the Ellipse every Christmas since 1978. I wanted to learn more about the meaning, the history and why it was called the Pageant of Peace.
The first National Christmas Tree lighting was made by President Calvin Coolidge in 1923. Over the years, the tree has stood as a symbol of good will and peace and the person given the honor of "flipping the switch" have ranged from celebrities, elected officials to children representing humanitarian organizations.
The tree is amazing -- after all it has served six presidents: Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, GW Bush, Obama. Around the Nation's Christmas Tree are 56 smaller trees -- one for each state and, DC and the 5 territories.
Little did they know in 1978, when the tree was donated, that this particular tree would live for so long.
The meaning of "Pageant of Peace" is particularly poignant this year, with our troops serving in harm's way overseas -- I pray that they will come back home safely soon.
What was new with the tree this year, was the fact that GE has provided LED lights from top to bottom that are much more energy efficient as well as many ornaments from last year-- a great example for all to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
But then I stumbled upon the Capitol Reflecting Pool. In warmer times, the Pool is peaceful and calm and designed to inspire solemnity and reflection. However, as much as I've wanted to go for a dip, I never did -- the water was usually too dirty (too many ducks)
But today, there is no reflection on the shiny surface -- since it's all covered in ice (And no ducks anywhere). In my seven years in DC, I've never seen anything like this before. Not knowing when I would get another chance, I wanted to go out for a walk on it.
But could it be really frozen throughout or just parts of it. Water is most dense at about 38 degrees F. As the water in the bottom cools, it rises to the top. As water cools, it expands thus creating a layer of ice that is less dense than water. Ice floats because of hydrogen bonding (less dense than liquid).
I knew that the temps in DC had stayed below that all week, after the blizzard, and since the pool was rather shallow -- knee to waist deep, it wouldn't take long for the pond to freeze over.
And yes indeed -- today, the Pool inspired me to live on the edge and run all over the 6,500 square feet reflection pool, on the jagged edge of excitement and vivacity.
At first, the ice looked cracked and unsteady. In places, you could hear the water lapping with that familiar sound of depth against the side of the pool. Perhaps the water at the edge of the pool was deepest to mitigate the formation of waves. But upon further investigation, the ice was solid, at least four inches thick -- enough to hold a 150 pound man. There were spots throughout that were thinner, transparent, some bubbling up with oxygen. I would keep an eye out for them, I added. But before the night was over, I would skate right by the broken ice, oblivious to a thing except the feeling of peace floating in the middle of the lake and the Magnanimity of Christmas and all things good with love, hope and benevolence.
So off I went, running across, from side to side, from corner to corner -- all of a sudden I was a fearless kid again.
I didn't stop for over an hour and a half. Before long, passer bys stopped and joined me. Some went on their own. Some went with a little coaxing. Lo and behold, I had started a Christmas Eve family event.
It was a thrill to run freely, skate casually on the frozen ice. It was tough keeping balance, and when I got tired, I simply skated, moving from side to side.