The first time I went to Giverny – and inside the high walls surrounding Claude Monet’s home and garden – it was May. Iris were everywhere.
They were tall and sparkling with dew in shades of mauve, purple, yellow and white. They took the lead in a joyful song of spring with lilacs and wisteria as voluptuous back up singers. My mind grabbed that purple haze of flowers and sealed it away. Irises became synonymous with Giverny for me. I never thought of how it would be the rest of the year. My recent visit was an epiphany.
April means tulips at Giverny.
The iris were only thinking about their diva-ish debut. The wisteria were wistfully waking, the lilacs were racing the apple blossoms for heightening senses with their scents-ability.
I think I’ll need to go every month of the year to truly understand the beauty of Monet’s intricate masterpiece. This visit was the fulfillment of an innocent wish made at another time and another place – far from Paris or Giverny. I’ll tell you a bit about that before I share some of the photos I took of Monet’s true masterpiece.
A few years ago, my friends Kim and Tandi came to visit and spend a weekend with me in Calgary. I toured them around.
We took the time to do things I never make time to do on my own. We took a running class, did a little shopping and tasted our way around a few neighbourhoods. We went to a big old used bookstore and each disappeared down our own row of stacks. We synchronized watches and just let the spines of the books pull us deeper into other worlds until time’s elapse pulled us back into earth’s orbit.
My path led me to a familiar place – the cookbook section. It also took me to a far away place – Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny, France. I love the power of books to transport us in space and time mentally – if not physically.
I found the book in those towering stacks because I’m drawn to all things blue and yellow and so the book’s jacket popped in front of my eyes. Monet loved blue and yellow too. The interior of his home is a startling yellow, garden green and vivid blue and there – on the shelves of that bookstore – was that blue and yellow jacket of a book entitled Monet’s Table – The Cooking Journals of Claude Monet.
I picked it up. There were photos of Monet’s garden in all seasons and recipe after delicious recipe taken from Monet’s journals. All the recipes were tested and updated by none other than famous French chef Joël Robuchon. I sat and became lost in memories of my first visit to Giverny.
I bought the book and showed it to my friends. I told them about how I loved that garden and that artist’s work and way of life. We mused on how nice it would be to go there together. At the next store, my friend Kim bought a sweetly detailed spring coat and a chic little hat. She turned to Tandi and me and said, “This will be perfect for when we go to Paris.”
An email came from Kim and Tandi about six months ago. Would I join them on a dream trip to Paris this spring?
Bien sur. Yes, indeed, I would…and I did.
It’s good to send forth your dreams and desires to the universe and then forget about them. Let the universe bring them to you. How that happens will surprise and delight you.
And that’s the story of how I got to realize that May is for Iris and April is for tulips at Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny.
I’m already looking forward to visiting in the other 10 months of the year. I’ll let that dream unfold like those lazy old water lilies in Monet’s garden.
If you’d like to learn more about the history, view paintings and find current exhibitions, check out Monet on Artsy.
For now, let me take you on a walk around the garden as I saw it with my camera on this last visit. Let’s start with the tulips.
Now for a walk around the pond. It took awhile to get the photos with minimal visitors in them.
On my way back up to the house, I let the little details sink in. There are lots of little details in this place. That’s why Monet lived here so contently for 50 years.
A la prochaine. Until the next time I return to savour it all.
Beautiful Karen! I am leaving for Paris on Thursday. Maybe I’ll get pictures of Irises.
I hope you do!
I hope you have time to go to the new Luis Vuitton Institute while you are there.
It’s my new favourite.
I love those colours too and they seem to pop up in my colour schemes be it home decor or clothing…we love what we love….
We love what we love.
Susan – I could always count on you for words of wisdom.
Karen, you are not only a delicious writer, you take fantastic photographs. Still Life Pond takes my breath away. Thank you for sharing, my friend.
Thanks Tandi. Monet might be a little shocked by the number of people in his garden now but it’s still a masterpiece. I’ll look forward to seeing your shots too. That’s what I love about photography – seeing what each person’s eye lands on. Hugs to you, K