Rites of Spring

No rants today, I promise.

Spring is in the air here in the nation's capital, and ranting would just spoil the karma. The cherry blossoms are about to bloom, the Nationals are about to christen a new stadium, and the White House lawn was filled yesterday with thousands of children, most of them giddy at the prospect of having their pictures taken with Mickey Mouse or Strawberry Shortcake or Snoopy.

(Any character, that is, except Teddy Roosevelt, the goofy nine-foot Washington Nationals mascot my daughter is absolutely terrified of. "What is he doing here?!?" asked Alexandra, as we entered the White House grounds. I honestly believe that I can lay claim to the only four-year-old in America who has nightmares about a dead president.)

The White House Easter Egg Roll aside, we're fortunate to have a more subtle, more personal harbinger of spring each year, and we don't have to even leave our house to see it. As if keeping to a train schedule, every March a bird takes up residence in the nest a foot or two off our kitchen window. Sometimes a robin, usually a mourning dove, I watch each day with fascination as the mother patiently sits on her eggs, oblivious to everything around her.

I'm not bird expert, and so I always wonder how these birds find this same nest. Word of mouth? Is there some bird equivalent of Yelp! or Craigslist, where a cardinal can find a nice duplex in North Arlington for not that much? (In fact, go ahead and compare the two images, from this year and last, and I'd swear it was the same bird returning.)

Last year, as some of you might remember, the chick's arrival came on a sad day indeed for those of us here in Virginia, just minutes after a moment of silence for the 32 students gunned down at Virginia Tech. I didn't want to read too much into it at the time, but the touching coincidence stayed with me for a while. This year, we wait again, just as eager to see a couple of scrawny necks peeking out of their nest. In a world filled with so much sadness and war, it's always amazing to me how much joy I can get out of some baby birds being born outside the kitchen window.

And while we're on the topic of birth, I did want to share a beautiful maternity image I shot in the Old Town studio a few weeks ago. I photographed Alicia and her family a few years back and was delighted when they told me they were expecting again. Sometimes women are unsure of what to bring to these portrait sessions and my standard response is something along the lines of, "don't think too hard about it." Well, Alicia brought along some wrappy thing (a very technical fashion term) and within an instant transformed herself into a perfect incarnation of a Greek goddess. That was a neat trick. (As usual, double-click the images for better viewing.)

I'll close this short post today with a couple of photos from yesterday's White House event. The first picture is of our friend Denyce with her daughter, Ella. The last time Alexandra and Ella saw each other they were munching on chocolate crepes under the Eiffel Tower. Now both girls are a few years older and it was fun to hear Ella's talking voice, which is rich and distinctive--just like mom's. I have this dream of shooting Denyce and Ella in costume someday at the Kennedy Center, Big Carmen and Mini Carmen.

The second picture is Alexandra, of course, who might have a thing against Teddy Roosevelt but never met a fairy she didn't like. No, Alexandra is all about fairies and we were happy to see such a convincing one on the South Lawn.

Hope you all had a happy Easter and I wish you all a happy spring. Wedding season begins this week, so we'll be back with some fun pictures in no time.



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