Right-Sizing after the Rain.

By: Jen Shoop

Mr. Magpie and I have been making good on our May commitments. We started the month with a “hike” (mild walk) at Scott’s Run in McLean, VA. Mr. Magpie flustered me by investigating fungi in oak stumps along the rain-packed trail, sharing flotsam of foraging history and practice he’s been collecting in his self-study of mushrooms the past few weeks. I say “flustered” because I was half-waiting for him to insist he’d found a patch of “hen of the woods” to cook up for dinner, and that’s a risky business. (He is, of course, too wise, respectful, and circumspect to actually forage in a National Park, but he enjoyed joking about it.) We stood on the banks of the Potomac and I was reminded of why I love this stretch of the mid-Atlantic, deep family roots here aside: the landscape feels as it might have felt in the 1800s, or 1600s, or 1400s for that matter. The banks are dense with foliage and rocks, and D.C. bears a squat cityscape, so you see nothing but sky and rock-riddled water and the soft plumage of trees for as far as you can make out. For the most part, trailgoers are respectful, and you witness scant unnatural debris. Just our luck, too: the prior evening’s rain showers had erased the trail of footsteps and other evidence that anyone but Mr. Magpie and I had been in those parts for some time. I felt again the pleasantly dizzying sense of my own insignificance, a vertigo to which I find myself succumbing every now and again when I am in the presence of a greatness so wide as to be incomputable. If you ever feel as though you might be earning the chastisement: “Not everything happens to you,” stand on the banks of the unchanged* Potomac and you will at once find your ego winnowed down to nothing. There is a long history to contend with, and ancient, avuncular oaks beside. It is not unkind, this belittlement. It is necessary right-sizing after the rain.


*Used artfully here. The Potomac carries a long history of heavy pollution. As a child, I remember being privy to dark jokes suggesting that if the bacteria in the Potomac didn’t kill you, a dead body buried there might pull you in.

+More thoughts on D.C.

+On running through Rock Creek Park sans music.

+And 200 runs through Central Park.

+Reflections on hiking.


+I have been enjoying this online radio channel, where you can tune into a forest around the world. It is really good writing “white noise” for me.

Shopping Break.

+Love the fit and wash of these jeans.

+LR just released the perfect wedding guest (and/or bridal!) shoe — glitzy and fun but eminently wearable (with a block heel in case you’re in grass!) for a long night of dancing.

+Speaking of LR, these woven platforms have been selling out left and right but found a stash of them here.

+A million years ago, I hosted a series of in-person Magpie book clubs, mainly in Central Park and occasionally at the apartments of generous attendees (including Inslee and Alison). I occasionally keep in touch with the participants, and some of them send me book recs. One just sent me this book recommendation, saying it reminded her of my obsession with the book Circe. Will definitely be reading.

+Absolutely smitten with this saucy white mini — possible contender for my 12 year anniversary this August!

+This $118 white mini and this white Emerson Fry new arrival are also adorable.

+Running shorts for summer in fantastic colors!

+Summer staple.

+Just love this gauze top.

+These heels are just SO FUN.

+Affordable wet-dry bags in non-hideous colors (a 3 pack for $15) for swimsuit season ahead.

+Still can’t stop thinking about the dad sandal trend…to plunge or not?

+This H&M steal reminds me of Ulla.

+Love these $25 earrings.

+Adore this belt!

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2 thoughts on “Right-Sizing after the Rain.

  1. I love the lushness of DC and its environs–there’s a distinct feeling of being ‘cocooned’ even while living in the city. I will miss this in Chicago!

    1. Yes, so true! However, Chicago has its own kind of big city magic. The Lake is spectacular and driving into town from the airport always made my heart swell for some reason — the skyline is stirring, striking! At the same time, there are bits of leafy Lincoln Park that afford a similar “nestled” feeling to the one you mention in D.C. I felt so comfortable in that part of the city in particular. We ended up buying a home in Ukrainian Village, which presented a nice mix of “urban” and “residential.” So many great areas.


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