New cherry blossoms with Washington Monument in background.

So I had this clever plan: go to Florida in mid-March, spend a wonderful week in the warm sunshine, and come back to SPRING in DC. The first part went great. The second? Not so much.

There are flowers in bloom. It sort of looks like spring. But it’s cold and much grayer than it needs to be.

So that first picture is about hope and disappointment, and it’s not just about the weather. I’m not so thrilled with my government right now: full of promise and bold ideals — both originally and today — but stumbling in execution and wavering in perseverance.

Cherry branch and blossoming trees, Tidal Basin, Washington, DC

The French have a problematic description, “jolie laide (literally: pretty ugly-girl),” for women who are not conventionally pretty (who may, in fact, not be pretty at all by conventional standards) but are attractive nonetheless. While the term may include some condescension, and of course inherently underscores the troubling importance of being beautiful or attractive to begin with, it has some charms as well. The Jolie Laide frequently has attributes of style and personality that combine with her quirky appearance to create a persona that is unexpectedly more than the sum of its parts.

All of which is a long-winded introduction to the second picture, which I consider something of a jolie-laide. It’s certainly not a conventional cherry-blossom beauty shot.

Cherry Blossoms, Washington Monument, DC

By contrast, this picture is conventional. This is what you expect from a Cherry Blossom/Tidal Basin picture (although it could be a tad brighter and sunnier, don’t you think?). There’s nothing remarkable about it, it’s nice and ordinary. Having been brought up to be a world-class aesthetic snob, I have to remind myself that its okay to be nice and ordinary sometimes. Clichés are clichés for a reason: they work for most people, most of the time.

A Year Ago: Valley of Fire

Rock in Valley of Fire, NVI spent a wonderful couple of hours wandering around this state park…
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4 Responses to Promise
  1. Dale
    March 27, 2011 | 2:07 pm


  2. [...] A Year Ago: Promise [...]

  3. [...] A few years ago, I mentioned the French concept/term jolie-laide—something unconventionally attractive (generally a woman who does not conform to typical beauty standards but is indisputable stylish and appealing). And every now and then I find myself experimenting with pattern or color or some other mix of compositional elements, and winding up with something that I can’t in good conscience describe as beautiful. [...]

  4. [...] A few years ago, I mentioned the French concept/term jolie-laide… [read more] 0 Comments « Previous Post [...]