Gentle rainfall did not discourage a few small groups of visitors yesterday at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, D.C. This park contains marshes and gardens with almost surreal light, sounds, smells, and color–even on a drizzly day.
Indeed, a wet day in wetlands has some surprises of its own, it turned out. They included the unforgettable sight of countless water drops (some as big as golf balls!) gliding down the waxy ridges of thousands of broad lotus plant leaves. All at once, when breezes stirred the plants, these drops would fall often several feet into the dark garden pools below. The sound these translucent orbs made–perfectly round as they slid off the leaves and into the water–must be like what a million tiny waterfalls sounds like all at once. This water symphony created an eerie but beautiful sensation of something unfamiliar, like a botanical surf. It was hard to believe that all this was happening only a short distance from the U.S. Capitol Building.
Up ahead, splashes of color made by some visitors’ umbrellas bounced above the crimson, faint yellow, and white hues of the swaying lotus plants. In such a riot of sensations, lotus blossoms seemed to stare us bystanders in the eye. As we left the park, the light rain gave way to blue skies and the water symphony was in its last encore for the day.