New Day…

I watched the sun rise this morning, the ducks swimming by south to north, the geese flying overhead north to south, the light spreading across the river—first a red strip, then orange…pink…a yellow ball peeking through the grove of trees across the water, then ascending the treetops…a golden globe heralding the day.

The river flows steadily towards an open expanse into the Chesapeake and ultimately into the Atlantic Ocean. It has been a mild winter so far, no ice on the water, just an occasional dusting of frost on the ground which melts with the sun.

On a flagpole by the river the American flag ripples in the breeze as the geese flap by. My dogs—one blonde, one black, both part Labrador and other breeds, wander along the river front, finding their smells and place to rest and watch the day unfold.

It is a new day…with a new government in my home city of Washington, DC. Today I look backward and forward at the same time. I am not the only one contemplating past and future, past as prologue? I share here two earlier posts, one from January 2009 after the inauguration of Barack Obama “When the Crowds Go Home, Ideas Keep Traveling.” Much has happened in the intervening twelve years. The other is October 2012, “A Visit to the End of the World” written from the edge of where the ancients thought the world ended, in Finisterre, Spain. Only a wide and empty Atlantic Ocean stretched before them. It was necessary to imagine…

How these connect I leave to another post and look forward to hearing from others.

(Photo credits: Joanne Leedom-Ackerman)

When the Crowds Go Home, Ideas Keep Traveling

(January, 2009)

The crowds have left; the reviewing stands, disassembled. The reflecting pool is frozen with sea gulls light-footing across it. Washington, DC has held its grand party. For three days, everyone was on foot, bundled in coats, scarves, gloves and walking everywhere–to the Mall, to the Capitol, to the White House (or as close as one could get), peering over barricades, hundreds of thousands of people.

Most of those who came to town have returned to all the states in the union from which they came. Those from the more than 100 foreign countries here to watch the Inauguration have also returned. As the full working week commenced in Washington, snowflakes were falling; the sky was cloudy, and the Potomac River, crusted with ice at the edges, waited for spring.

But the spirit remained. And the consequences of this global gathering were only beginning. Among those visiting Washington were women from the world’s conflict regions, women engaged in peace building, who were gathered to share experiences and also to study and watch the U.S. electoral process, particularly as it might apply to their circumstances and lives….[cont]


A Visit to the End of the World

(October, 2012)

I visited the end of the world this week, at least the spot on the earth where the ancient Romans believed the sun left the earth and the known world ended. The AC 552 highway takes you there in four lanes with possible detours through charming fishing villages along the coast of Galicia. If you stand on the granite cliffs of Finisterre, Spain looking west, you see the billowing Atlantic and can understand the Roman’s perspective for nothing lays beyond, at least nothing one could see or travel to in the ships of their day.

The Romans called the spot the Cape of Death since the sun died there. It was also a place of numerous ship wrecks on the jagged rocks reaching out in a finger hook into the sea before a light house was built centuries later. The Greeks had denominated another spot on the earth, Mount Hacho in Spanish Morocco, as the place where the world ended because that was as far as their eyes could see….[cont]


  1. Kate Blackwell on January 23, 2021 at 10:55 am

    Dear Joanne,

    Your musings on A New Day in the life of our country, and in ours, are inspiring. I liked that you connected this historic Inauguration to other times and other feelings about history, country and the different challenges of life.

    For me the Inauguration was like going back in time, to people I knew but hadn’t seen in a while, to dignity in the oaths taken and lightness in the socializing, to thrilling singing, to a magnificent young poet, and a hominess as the usher placed the box at the podium for the short people and removed it for the tall. But the moment that surprised me in the emotion it evoked came later in the day, when I saw a photograph of the Oval Office with President Biden sitting at the desk, in front of the familiar yellow curtains, signing a paper I knew was going to do somebody some good (or at least not hurt anyone).

    Lastly, I loved the pictures of the shore, the always beautiful sky, the dogs frolicking. It reminded me of other important parts of my past and, in our friendship, the present as well.


  2. Deena Ackerman on January 23, 2021 at 11:12 am

    Hey Joanne,
    Very much looking forward to working under Janet Yellen.

    • Joanne Leedom-Ackerman on January 24, 2021 at 7:59 am

      Yes, a new day for you too! Hope soon we can see each other.

  3. Joanne on January 23, 2021 at 1:38 pm

    Kate, how nice to hear your reaction to the Inauguration and to hear from you. Yes, a new day and let us hope in this new year we can all see each other in person again!

  4. Bonnie Raphael on January 25, 2021 at 6:06 pm

    I was raised on poetry and art in all measures. My daughter, as well. As a public school teacher in California my heart was broken by the impact of No Child Left Behind. A forced attempt to cancel the practice of honoring the fire of creativity in each child and young adult. Our schools have an opportunity to be filled with a new kind of vigor. The word rigor has no place in early education. My joy at this inauguration is manyfold. My granddaughter’s spirit will be nurtured. Thank you to all who serve this most important generation yet. Thank you Amanda Gorman for allowing the words to come through. We are all in this together, indeed. Thank you, Joanne, for your words of wisdom and encouragement to all.

  5. Joanne on January 27, 2021 at 10:37 am

    Thank you, Bonnie, for your words and art and spirit as well!

  6. Eugene Schoulgin on February 3, 2021 at 9:46 am

    Dear Joanne,

    I fully understand your enormous feeling of relief. Like waking up from a nightmare and realizing the sun is stil there, even if it shines with a somehow exhausted light.
    As an European I believe I share my view of misbelief concerning the political reality during the last four years in the US with a vast percentage of my continent-women and men. How was it possible to follow a man like the last president? It was also to experience something we really thought belonged to the darkest past in Europe!

    We who are watching from the side line I think has got a shaking insight in all the problems US is facing. Old and new mistrust has to be healed, an undisturbed pandemic has to be overcome, social injustice and racism has to be defeated, a climate has to be saved. What a task in front of the democratic party!

    Even a non believer has to pray you will succeed, and there I have the faith. What else is there to hope for?

    with friendship

  7. Joanne on February 3, 2021 at 12:47 pm

    Thank you for writing, Eugene. Because of our long work together in PEN, I especially appreciate your perspective and support and shared hope that America can express its best ideals in action and that as citizens we can also share and express common values even if opinions and policies may differ on the path to achieving these. I depend on friends like you around the world who share the values of free expression and respect and civil discourse. In friendship…🎈

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