Solitude on the Ganges


Boatman on the Ganges at Varanasi at sunrise

At sunrise on the Ganges, it is easy to feel the solitude: one boat, one man, one bird, illuminated by the one sun.

Facing the sun, whether in a boat, or bathing in the river, or standing on the ghats at the shoreline to offer flowers or candles to Ganga, each devout Hindu makes a personal and private connection with the goddess of the holy river Ganges.

Henry Hill (Manassas National Battlefield Park)

Henry Hill was the site of the first major battle of the Civil War, called the Battle of First Manassas by the South and First Bull Run by the North. Manassas was the local railroad station, and Bull Run is a nearby stream.

Henry Hill battlefield

On July 21,1861, both sides converged on Henry Hill. On this day and hill, Confederate Brigadier General Barnard Bee rallied his men as he pointed to the newly-arrived General Thomas J. Jackson and shouted, “There stands Jackson like a stone wall!  Rally behind the Virginians!”

Union forces dragged ten-pounder Parrott guns (each weighing about 1800 pounds, with a maximum range of 1900 yards) up Henry Hill. In total, there were 24 cannon on Henry Hill that afternoon: 11 Union and 13 Confederate.

This land and the “Spring Hill” house were acquired by the Henry family in 1822. On this day of battle, widowed Judith Carter Henry, an 85 years old invalid, still lived here with her daughter and a leased slave.  Confederate snipers fired on Union soldiers from her bedroom window and were answered by a 10 pound shell from a  Union cannon about 60 yards away. Mortally wounded, Judith Henry was the first civilian casualty of the Civil War. She and her daughter and son (who died in 1888 and 1898, respectively) are buried in the Henry Family Cemetery in front of the reconstructed house. (The original house was decimated by souvenir hunters after this battle and then burned during the Battle of Second Manassas.)

The battle on Henry Hill continued until just after 4 p.m., when the Northern forces withdrew.

These photographs of Henry Hill were taken in April, 2016.

For more information about the Manassas National Battlefield Park in Virginia, visit the website at

Stone Bridge (Manassas National Battlefield Park)

The Stone Bridge, or the Fauquier and Alexandria Turnpike bridge over Bull Run, was important to both the Confederate and Union armies during the Civil War. The Union army fired the opening shots of the First Battle of Manassas over Stone Bridge, and later used this bridge in their retreat from the Second Battle of Manassas.

Bridge (c)
Stone Bridge

Built in 1825, blown up by the Confederate army in 1862, temporarily rebuilt in wood and destroyed again by the Union army in the same year, and fully rebuilt by 1884, the bridge remained in active use until the road was realigned in 1926. The reconstructed bridge maintains its historic appearance. Since 1959, the Stone Bridge has been managed by the National Park Service.

These photographs of and near the Stone Bridge were taken in April, 2016.

Split-rail fence
Fence with Flowers (c)
Buttercups among split rails

For more information about the Manassas National Battlefield Park in Virginia, visit the website at

A Day at Green Spring Gardens

Green Spring Gardens is a 31-acre Fairfax County free public park in Alexandria, Virginia.  While there is much to see here of historic interest, our visit concentrated on the outdoors: the gazebo, bridges, ponds, stream, paths, plants, and wildlife.

Old Cellar2
Ruined cellar, Green Spring Gardens

We purposely went mid-day on a sunny day, not the best time for photography, in order to experiment with exposure techniques. However, we like the photos shared here.

The first scene we encountered was a large pond featuring a gazebo, reached by crossing a bridge that also led to other paths.

Green Spring Gardens

The gazebo is a good spot to sit and observe the pond, fountain, and wildlife.

Beyond the gazebo is a second fountain.

Wildlife that we saw enjoying this pond were a Canadian goose and many turtles.


The paths are wide and easy to follow. In addition to young couples, dog walkers, and families with strollers, photographers take advantage of the beautiful vistas.

Another larger bridge crosses the stream in the middle of the park.

There is various convenient seating for contemplating the scenery.

There is also evidence of visitors who decided to leave their mark.

Tree carvings

The Spring flowers and flowering shrubs are spectacular.



These flowers live in the Horticultural Center.



For more information about Green Spring Gardens, visit the website at

National Gallery Sculpture Garden

The National Gallery of Art maintains the 6.1 acre National Gallery Sculpture Garden on the National Mall. The plantings are American species of trees, shrubs, perennials, and ground cover. At the center of the garden is a large ornamental pool with sequenced water fountains. (In the winter, this pool is a skating rink open to the public.)  Around the pool is a courtyard edged by long concrete benches.

Between the pool area and the decorative fence enclosing the entire garden are  21 large sculptures among the plantings. Our favorites of these sculptures are pictured below.

Roy Lichtenstein, House I

For more information, visit the official website for the National Gallery Sculpture Garden at