Bells, books, and sweets

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

These are the bells hanging in Plot #61, with the National Cathedral bell tower in the background. We are fortunate not only to have a wonderful view of the Cathedral, but also easy access to its greenhouse and the always-enchanting Bishop's Garden that lies to its south.

This weekend, the National Cathedral is holding its annual Flower Mart, a two-day festival and plant sale. They usually offer a great variety of herbs, flowers, and miscellaneous gardening knickknacks.

I have gone to the Flower Mart for several years in a row now, but oddly, I've never gone to buy flowers. I go because I love the festival atmosphere, the people watching, and, I think mostly, the food. They offer all the typical, bad-for-you festival foods like funnel cake, grilled sausage sandwiches, soft-serve ice cream, and giant bags of salty-sweet kettle corn for the walk home. (It's so bad, I know. But we all have our weak moments.)

Another of my favorite features of this event is their used book sale. There's a room full of old books -- on all sorts of subjects -- and they cost as little as 50 cents a piece. Who can resist that?

The Flower Mart is also one of the two times per year that the Cathedral bell tower is open for public tours. If you're claustrophobic or afraid of heights, it's not the tour for you. But barring those details, it's well worth the climb. You'll walk through the dark inner bowels of the Cathedral roof, pass through a room with giant carillon bells (the largest bell is bigger than my dining room and weighs twelve tons!), and, if you don't have a nose bleed by then, you'll go all the way to the top room for a demonstration of the peal bells, which are rung by hand. From there, you'll be treated to an amazing view as you look out from the highest point in Washington, D.C.

If you're in the D.C. area and I've piqued your interest -- for gardening knickknacks, large bells, old books, and tempting sweet things -- check out the Flower Mart this Friday and Saturday.


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