When you spend a lot of time in the city, you have to find your oases. One of my favorites lies between a courthouse and the Canadian embassy, where on any given weekday, you’ll find people from all walks of life sitting, talking, smoking, worrying, mostly ignoring the two fountains that bubble quietly before them. Many times I’ve seen sparrows perching ankle deep on one of the lily pads flicking themselves with water, while pigeons bob their heads along the side for a drink. In the winter, when the fountains are drained, schools of carved fish go on full display. I love that the sculptor put creatures in the fountain that you can hardly see when the fountain is full, and that appear in their glory when the fountain is dry. I love the whimsy of the creatures, the perfection of the depth of the lilypads to the actual living birds, and the humbleness of the bubbling fountain in the center.
Recently, when I went to photograph the fountains for this blog post, I found them uncharacteristically empty in the middle of the summer. There was a parks maintenance person working nearby, and so I asked him why the fountains were drained. He said that there was a problem with the plumbing that needed to be fixed. I asked him when they would be fixed and he said he didn’t know. I pushed for an answer, trying to get a general time frame so I knew when to come back, and he finally said, “Listen, I have no idea. That is not in my jurisdiction.” I burst out laughing, which made him smile. SUCH a Washington answer.
Thank you, David Phillips.