Yesterday was a lovely day. The temperature was mild, the humidity was bearable, and if everything wasn't going well everywhere in the world, the downtown Washington that we confronted at the top of the subway escalator was gorgeous.

Where else would one come into the middle of a metropolis and see manicured parks with hundreds of happy lunchers, and streets and diagonal avenues lined with trees with leaves of still-young green?

It got me to thinking about some of the people who made it possible: Pierre L'Enfant, who laid out the broad streets and avenues that became so hospitable to tree planting; Alexander Shepherd, the real father of modern Washington and the one who was responsible for the planting in the 110-years-ago era of President U.S. Grant, but was caught up in the graft scandals of the period, and Lord James Bryce who, as the British ambassador in 1913, wrote a celebrated National Geographic article that focused American eyes on the beauties of Washington's trees and on the goals of beauty that this city might someday achieve.

One could write a long essay, but it wouldn't give time to go back outside and enjoy this magnificent town we call home.