Friday, July 27, 2012

Feel Beauty in Monet's Garden

I couldn't leave NYC for a month in Arkansas without visiting Monet's Garden, or as close to Giverny as possible - a one hour subway ride to the Bronx.  I knew that the exhibit would still be at the Botanical Gardens when I returned, but the water lilies were blooming -- the water lilies!

The subjects of Monet's 2000+ paintings may have ranged from haystacks to parasoled women, but it's the pasteled blues, greens, pinks, purples of the water lily pond that I immediately associate
 with his name.

Five years ago, I stood in the center of the Musée de l'Orangerie's oval-shaped room, surrounded by Monet's water lilies. . . panel after six-foot panel of lilies on water wrapped around me, flowed through me.  Like a peaceful dream.

I tried to imagine the man who spent the last 30 years of his life painting them.  What was so compelling about this flower, its kinship to water, the way it changes from sunrise to dusk? "These landscapes of water and reflection have become an obsession for me," he wrote to a friend in 1909. "It's beyond my strength as an old man, and yet I want to render what I feel."

When I walked into the Conservatory Courtyard Pools at the Botanical Gardens, I understood.

"I want to render what I feel," Monet had said.

For a few minutes, I put my camera aside and sat on a bench, searching for words to describe what I saw, but stopped.  It was simply enough to feel the beauty.  

A picture of Monet, taken in his later years, hangs in the Conservatory, amid a stunning simulation of his Giverny gardens.  His quotes are tucked in among dahlia, foxglove, daisy, and rose.


  Whether it be the flowers of Giverny, the waterlilies floating on the pond, or the oak trees outside my window here in Arkansas, Monet reminds me to feel the beauty of Nature's moment.  To feel it, be inspired by it and experience its peace. 


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