Washington Guide to Spring

Posted February 29, 2012 at 4:41pm

For Alfred Lord Tennyson, spring was a time “when a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” For Emily Dickinson, it brought a “whole experiment of green.” In Washington, D.C., it means cherry blossoms and baseball and a chance to enjoy, under hopefully warmer skies, the natural and man-made bounty that the capital region provides. There are three weeks until the official start of spring. Here’s a day-by-day guide to get you from here to there.
 

March 1

March is Women’s History Month, when Americans celebrate great ladies and their achievements. Renowned actress Meryl Streep has made the creation of a national women’s history museum in Washington, D.C., one of her pet causes, and Members of Congress have also sought to see such an institution come to fruition on the National Mall. In the meantime, Washingtonians can visit the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, home to artifacts of the women’s suffrage and equal rights movement. Check out Susan B. Anthony’s desk, the gavel from the first official meeting of the National Women’s Party and “Votes for Women” playing card decks and teacups.

March 2

Catching the actual Rolling Stones in concert may not be an option, but don’t miss the next best thing. Satisfaction: The International Rolling Stones Show is coming to the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Md. Unlike the real Stones, their imitating counterparts are much gentler on the wallet. Tickets are $15. The copycat band was started in 2001 by frontman Chris LeGrand to honor “the world’s greatest rock-and-roll band.” More than a decade later, the cover band is still going strong, performing 150 shows a year. And this year, the cast is extra eager to start you up, as they celebrate 50 years of music from one of rock’s most enduring groups.

March 3

On this day in 1849, Congress established the Department of the Interior. The agency oversees dozens of national parks, monuments and historical sites scattered throughout the region. A scenic hike on the C&O Canal or a stroll in Constitution Gardens, “an oasis within the bustling city,” are options for those unafraid of the chilly weather. If you don’t feel like heading outside to celebrate the agency’s birthday, check out indoor activities such as the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site.

March 4

In the current economic climate, catching a glimpse of pictures visualizing an even tougher era can be a sobering experience. The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown, Md., is hosting “Art for America: Selection of WPA Prints,” a collection of more than 70 pictures capturing everyday life in America during the Great Depression. The exhibition has been running since October, but this will be the final day visitors can take in the works. The pictures came as a gift to the museum in 1943. The Works Progress Administration, established in 1935, provided the necessary funding for the then-unemployed artists, who in turn brought to life through art the difficult, sometimes tragic, times that they witnessed and endured.

March 5

What better way to start the week than a blanket spread on the National Mall, a jug of wine, a loaf of bread and a book of poetry by a former Senator. Maine Republican William Cohen’s “Of Sons and Seasons” (1978) and “A Baker’s Nickel” (1986) remain a pleasure. 

“It’s gone.

The place where

I was born.

So many years

it stood tall and brown

on that street of immigrants

who spoke in broken accents

and unshattered hopes …”

March 6

The family that made it cool to be a ghoul is coming to Baltimore. “The Addams Family” is a Broadway musical running March 6-18 at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center. Tickets range from $58 to $295. The play is a tale of young love told in comedic and musical form.  The Addams’ young, morbid daughter, Wednesday, falls for a boy who doesn’t quite fit the goth mold. Sworn to confidentiality, Gomez struggles to balance his daughter’s trust with his desire to reveal to his wife a secret that could alter the dynamics of the household. The cartoon creation of artist Charles Addams, the odd-but-lovable family first entered the American consciousness in the 1960s, sparking decades of television reruns and movies.

March 7

Take a drive to Bedford, Va., home of the National D-Day Memorial, for a “Lunchbox Lecture” on the “Powers of Persuasion: Propaganda and WWII” at the Bedford Welcome Center. Bedford, about 200 miles southwest of Washington, lost 19 men at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. The program will show how propaganda posters featuring women were used to evoke powerful emotions among the public. Admission is free, but bring your own lunch.

March 8

The Environmental Film Festival is celebrating 20 years of promoting “green” films with a launch party. Tickets are $20, and the event will take place at the Warner Building Atrium, 1299 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The festivities will include art, dance and music, along with catered food and drinks from Chipotle, FreshFarm Markets, Honest Tea, Occasions Caterers and Restaurant Nora. Through a silent auction, you could win a six-night stay for two at the Hacienda Cusin in Ecuador. The party is the opening salvo for 13 days of screenings. The itinerary includes an appearance by Ken Burns, who will present a sneak preview of his latest film, “The Dust Bowl.” James Redford will have his film “Watershed,” a cinematic examination of the Colorado River, introduced by his father, Robert Redford.

March 9

The first battle between ironclad naval vessels took place 150 years ago today. The USS Monitor and CSS Virginia dueled to a standoff at Hampton Roads, Va. At the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Va., you can see artifacts from both ships, a full-scale replica of the Monitor and, through an interactive presentation, experience what it was like to be stuck inside a ship during a storm. The Monitor foundered off Cape Hatteras in December 1862. It was found in 1973. The Virginia was originally a U.S. Navy frigate designated the Merrimack. The Confederates changed the name after the ship’s conversion to an ironclad. The anchor of the Virginia can be seen on the front lawn of the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond.

March 10

The “Swordsmen’s Rendezvous” exhibit at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum in Alexandria, Va., has been running since Feb. 11, but this will be its final day. The event is recommended for ages 5 and older and has an entry fee of $6. Tours take place every 30 minutes, and the exhibit is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Witness a real-time swordplay re-enactment, a simulation akin to what George Washington used on his way to mastering the craft. Visitors can also browse the antique weaponry on display. The grand finale of the program offers a chance for some observers to become practitioners. Pick up the sword and put into action the tricks of the trade you just learned. 

March 11

Put on your finest leprechaun hat and hit the pavement in D.C. for some St. Patrick’s Day fun. The nation’s St. Patrick Day Parade takes place from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. On Constitution Avenue between Seventh and 17th streets, you’ll be joined by other District residents, decked out in green and eager to embrace the culture of the Irish, even if it’s only for a few hours. While some local Irish pubs will sponsor elements of the parade, including the various musical acts, the event is primarily geared toward family, providing age-neutral entertainment in the form of floats and marching and pipe bands. For one day at least, the sounds of Dublin will fill the streets of D.C.

March 12

Take a trip back to the Renaissance at Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum with “Exploring the Appeal of Renaissance
Statuettes,” which delves into research conducted by Johns Hopkins University neuroscientists and their study of how the brain reacts to tactile stimuli. Visitors will be given an opportunity to touch and evaluate Renaissance-like sculptures to determine whether touch affects their appreciation of art. The show runs 10 a.m. to
5 p.m. 

March 13

It’s less than a month until the Nationals’ home opener. Stay inside today and catch the Nats and Detroit Tigers from spring training on MASN.

March 14

National Geographic Live is in D.C. showing a documentary that analyzes the effect that ivory poaching in Mozambique has had on that country’s elephant population. “War Elephants” follows world-renowned elephant researcher Joyce Poole, and her brother, cameraman Bob Poole, as they journey through Gorongosa National Park in an attempt to build trust with elephants whose herds have been victimized by ivory poachers. The screening at the National Geographic Society at 7:30 p.m. will be followed by a discussion with the Pooles and Gorongosa National Park Administrator Mateus Mutemba. Tickets are $10. 

March 15

The Riot Act Comedy Club hosts stand-up comic Iliza Shlesinger, the youngest winner of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” The Dallas native has appeared in several television specials, including Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham,” and has been featured in the History Channel’s comedy documentary, “I Am Comic.” Shlesinger has performed in various countries for U.S. troops overseas and is the host of the syndicated VH1 comedy dating show, “Excused.”

Shlesinger’s three-night stand begins today at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at riotactcomedy.com.

March 16 

Books, lectures and lively discussion may sound like college all over again, but if you find yourself in Richmond, swing by the Virginia Historical Society to relive your undergrad days with a free conference. “From the Earth: The Environment in Virginia’s Past and Future,” runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., focusing on the relationship between Virginia’s environment and its people. Sponsored and funded by the Virginia Environmental Endowment, the conference will include book signings by Roy T. Sawyer, author of “America’s Wetland: An Environmental and Cultural History of Tidewater Virginia and North Carolina,” and Helen C. Rountree, author of “Pocahontas, Powhatan, Opechancanough: Three Indian Lives Changed by Jamestown.” To register go to vahistorical.org/news/vee_register.htm.

March 17 

If the March 11 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the District didn’t suit you, celebrate on the actual day with a trip to Manassas, Va., or Gaithersburg, Md., each of which hosts a lively parade. The Maryland version includes the usual array of elected officials, Irish dancers, pipe bands, fire trucks and equestrian units. In the Old Dominion, you can enjoy Irish dance groups, the Northern Virginia Firefighters Emerald Society Pipe Band, the Washington Scottish Pipe Band, the Fairfax Deputy Sheriff’s Coalition Pipes and Drums and the Marine Corps Color Guard.

March 18 

Spring is the season of love, so they say.  It seems appropriate, then, to embrace an art form often shared between lovers. The Kennedy Center is hosting a two-hour free dance class on the Viennese Waltz, described on its website as “elegant yet controversial … due to its musical sensuality and the close contact between partners.”  A lesson at 5 p.m. precedes a 6 p.m. performance and opportunity to join in the dancing. Afterward, you and your dance partner can head out to Vienna, Va., for a waltz and a bite to eat.

March 19

The second annual Baltimore Greek Week celebration, which kicked off Sunday and runs all week, focuses on “The Mediterranean Diet: A Greek Journey Through Food,” with restaurants highlighting the country’s cuisine in honor of the 191st anniversary of Greek independence. On March 25, there’s a parade from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

March 20 

In just a week or so it will be almost impossible to ride the Metro on a weekend afternoon: The cars will be packed with locals and tourists heading to the Tidal Basin to marvel at the cherry blossoms. But if you’ve seen it all before and want to avoid the crowds, there’s another option. As spring begins, the Library of Congress is launching an exhibit celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the Japanese gift of cherry blossom trees to the District — the same ones causing all the traffic congestion by the Mall. The show’s featured artwork and photographs paint a picture of “the historical significance of cherry blossoms in Japan and their continuing resonance in American culture and for Washingtonians in particular.”