I went hunting for the frozen waterfalls mentioned during a show of "Metro Connection" .
From the description, I was picturing a hidden place, a short hike scrambling on rocks and a sudden vision of water falling in a narrow deserted gorge. From my knowledge of the region, I know that the location of these waterfalls is in a "mall paradise", just north of the Beltway, a place where the wildest vegetation I expect to see is a bunch of overgrown bamboos in the lot of a lazy gardener.
I enlist the help of a friend and we head out toward the suburbs looking for the promised wilderness.
We find what seems to be the start of a walk on a paved path. The terrain is desperatly flat. A hint of a small hill here and there, but nothing that could sustain the waterfalls that I envisioned. We walk on some dirt path, encounter small train tracks, and a nicely manicured lawn surrounding a small pond. This is clearly a quiet and small park in the middle of the noise of the suburbs but no waterfalls.
Our first inquiry to an old man walking his dog yields a smile and a forceful "I've known this park for 20 years and never heard of a waterfall!"
A woman is coming up to us wearing earphones. A dog unleashed beside her. I call after her and she reluctantly takes off the earphones and mutters "Let me shut off this thing" fumbling for the pause button on her tape player. Same question about waterfalls. She pauses and tells us that there are no waterfalls in this park but there is another park on the other side of the pond we passed. "Maybe you'll find waterfalls there", she says. "You have to open a gate and walk in and maybe you'll find a place in that garden where water goes over some rocks and could be considered like a waterfall." She can see my disappointment and adds "Well, maybe they built one recently." We thank her but are both ready to walk back to the car. As we are leaving, my friend asks me " Did you notice the last sentence?" Yes I did. We are now both laughing at the "Maybe they built one recently", so typically American. "There are no waterfalls? Not a problem. We'll built one." Said with such a natural, such a poise.
How to explain that we are looking for waterfalls not simply to look at falling water but because they are landmarks, a signature from Mother Nature. No man-made waterfalls can be worth an exploratory trip. Even only one to the suburbs.