I am happy to be back on the Vineyard. Thank you all for your kind words regarding the loss of my father. It has taken a bit of adjustment to get back into the everyday doings of my life.

I thought I would take a few paragraphs to comment about my trip to Washington a couple of weeks ago.

First of all, our nation’s capital is a beautiful city. I wish I knew more architectural history. Some of the buildings are awe-inspiring. The wide streets set off each of the buildings.

We (Violet and I) were not able to take the White House tour. One needs to contact her congressman well in advance. Who knew? We did hang around the entrance for a while talking various Presidents. As far as garden news, there were some good sized trees on the west wing roof. I’d love to see what other potted plants were up there. As we climbed the hill up to the Washington Monument I got all crazy about a leak in the irrigation system. Violet had to talk me off the cliff. “Mame, someone will fix it before any more water is wasted.” Honestly, mouths of babes!

The lawn up to the reflecting pool was being reseeded. I naturally told her about wading in that pool during some Viet Nam War protest.

I noticed most plantings seemed to be of a singular nature. That is, huge swaths of one thing — say red begonias. It seems to be a popular landscape method over the past decade. Impatiens, salvia, even one color of daylily are preferred choices. I, however, am not particularly fond of the practice. If I use all the pink impatiens I would interplant with hostas and astilbes. The perennial foliage is way more interesting.

I digress. After the Lincoln Memorial and the Viet Nam wall we made it to the Natural History building of the Smithsonian. The main purpose of our trip was to see the dinosaur bones. Violet had studied them last year at the charter school. We spent a good deal of time there. She knew more about them than I did.

One huge attraction was the live butterfly exhibit. We were ushered by groups into a solarium filled with plants and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of butterflies. They used a great deal of Mexican sage and red pentas to attract and feed the insects. There were tropicals I did not recognize. The butterflies landed on us. One guy had a huge one on his forehead for several minutes. Talk about a photo opportunity. We had body checks before exiting.

We hopped a cab and headed for the National Zoo. It is also part of the Smithsonian. It is a wonderful facility. The animals have plenty of room and the plantings both in and out of the enclosures are great. They are remaking the elephant pavilion. It will be several acres. They are on a big fund-raising and educational campaign to save the Asian elephant. Because it was Halloween weekend, all the vegetarian animals were enjoying pumpkins for lunch. We had a completely wonderful visit.

Saturday we attended the Jon Stewart-Stephen Colbert rally. After the Capitol Mall was packed (close to 200,000 people), Violet and I counted folks still arriving. She counted one, Mississippi, two for 60 seconds while I counted 200 by fives. They came in at that rate for over two hours. We had a blast — people with signs and costumes. I liked one that read, “Stop trying to take our country back — let’s move forward.”

I was surprised at the change in season on the Vineyard in little over a week. The leaves are mostly gone and we had a hard freeze. I left picking peppers and tomatoes and came home to black death. I spoke briefly to David Finkelstein, who mentioned his cilantro survived as he is in a frost pocket. On close inspection I noticed I still have dill surprisingly.

Plenty of kale, collard, carrots, lettuce, beets and cabbages remain. Nature is good to us.

A few quick words about the midterms. I was happy to see the Senate remained in Democratic hands and both Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell went down. The progressive Dems only lost four seats while the Blue Dog conservative Democrats lost over half their caucus. Good riddance to them. I say, when can we ever have real liberals?