rainy day of wonder

how could we resist this:  “Climb the 333 steps to the dizzying heights of the bell ringing chamber in the great central tower of Washington National Cathedral, 300 feet above the ground.”
Tower Climb
the photo above is from the National Cathedral newsletter … there were no blue skies yesterday … we had welcome rain for the first time in a long time … cozy and dry in the hidden corridors and staircases of the Cathedral
… we began our climb …
DSC06249 stairway to heaven
some of the stairs were stone and some were open metal … winding up, up, up in a rigorous ascent … getting hearts of every age pumping

stepping out onto the ledge … looking down from the bell tower…

we were reminded of the differences between gargoyles and grotesques
… gargoyles are spouts for rain water, like this one (double click for a close up)  and grotesques (like the famous Darth Vader at the cathedral) let the water run off their backs and heads
bell ringers demonstrated their art … one lady will celebrate her 40th year of bell ringing … she said just how much fun it is (with lots to learn over the years)
DSC06303 Bells
… so great to watch and SO beautiful to hear from inside (no picture of the six bell ringers I was so caught up in the moment) … not too loud like you might imagine being in the tower …
joyous happy bells that made me misty eyed … wondering if there was such a thing as ‘sad’ bells … well of course there are … a leather piece is strapped to half of the clapper and when the bell goes from ding to dong … the dong is muffled … turns out this is done every new year’s eve to ring out the old year …. then joyous bells peal to ring in the new …

fascinating to chat with one of the ringers describing how especially wonderful the bells sound on a cold crisp night … guess where we want to be for New Year’s Eve


the views we enjoyed from inside the Cathedral were breathtaking as well


a glimpse of the space window … from a high balcony …  containing a piece of lunar rock presented to the Cathedral by the Apollo XI astronauts


we stood underneath one of the two huge and glorious rose windows (10,500 pieces of stained glass make up the rose window)


from balconies and vantage points only open on tours
we hope to return another time for the stained glass and gargoyle tours … so much to learn and take in …
and metalworkers are another story all onto themselves
not forgetting an example of 1,500 separate pieces of needlepoint … more one of a kind kneeling cushions than you can shake a stick at …
there are 150+ people interred in the Cathedral, including Woodrow Wilson and Helen Keller
this dusty homage to the stone carvers (all passed on now) was tucked away in the bell tower … each year from 1960 to 2000 they would share a bottle and sign it … the collection has its place behind the scenes now
while we were in town we had a bite to eat
DSC06471Gordon Biersch
and then saw the new Jane Campion movie ... Bright Star … a visually stunning and beautifully acted period piece … sweet and tragic telling of John Keats young life

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.” ~John Keats, 1795-1821

13 responses to “rainy day of wonder

  1. oh my Goddess! best post ever! Wow! love it and all the little bits, gargoyle vs grotesque! fab! xo cat


  2. Just beautiful. I love the iron work on the door the most. And the view from on high! I do love cathedrals, wow.


  3. This most definitely should win the “Post of the Year” award for being terrific in every way. I have only seen the first layer, must go back and delve into the pictures much more later today or tomorrow. This is almost like being there, no, I take that back, — it makes you want to go there too.


  4. Patty you do a fabulous job of getting gorgeous pictures and the heart of the magnificent church. Only I would not be out there on a ledge. Thank you for sharing.


  5. I have been to the Cathedral numerous times but have never taken a tour. On my to-do-list. I loved this post and your descriptions. I will never forget the first time I saw the Cathedral at the young age of 16 fresh from Oklahoma in town for a church youth gathering. Took my breath away then as it still does now. Thanks for reminding me of the beauty it is!


  6. What a simply astounding post! The photographs are unbelievable — they should be asking you for some to use in their flyer or booklet! Even with my height-fear, I think I would have made the walk and looked out — what a view.

    I’ve always wanted to visit the National Cathedral and someday I will. Until then, I know I will see even more than I could in person, thanks to you. Beautiful work. And the history is fascinating, too! Thanks for that!


  7. This was a lovely post Patty, well planned and executed. Thank you for allowing us to be there with you.


  8. Amazing post Patty, absolutely stunning photos even if it was a cloudy day. I just can’t believe, did you actually go out on a ledge ? I would be terrified up there.
    Sounds like you and Mr Magpie had a wonderful romantic day, tour, dinner and then a movie, which I like the sound of btw.


  9. Well done Patty…you sure captured some wonderful views and made it possible for others who can’t get there to enjoy it ….thanks….JUDY


  10. Patti, your day’s out sound magical. You do such fun and interesting things. I love to take pictures of gargoyles and grotesques as well. I also try to take pictures of ironworks whenever we are on vacation. If I ever get my pictures sorted out I will post my Barcelona ones. (o:


  11. Oh, Patty! You’ve outdone even you! I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Not only were the photographs outstanding, but the text was also so informative. I had no idea that Keats lived such a short life. Thank you for the time and effort you put in to sharing this post with all of blogosphere.


  12. Pingback: Pink Saturday: Vigna Caracalla « Magpie’s Nest ~*~ Patty Szymkowicz

  13. DeLIGHTful rainy day tour of this lovely place. Thanks for sharing.
    Hugs and blessings,


Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts here...it means a lot to me and I appreciate your visit very much oxo

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