A few years ago our family were in Paris. It was August and everywhere was teeming with tourists - not the ideal situation to see everything in comfort, but the sun shone and we were able to visit all the monuments, museums and attractions that were on our to-do list. Also we took a long weekend to go and see the Normandy beaches and the Bayeux Tapestry, both of which I highly recommend to anyone visiting the area.
On the way back to Paris we stopped off to visit Monet's house and garden at Giverny. Now both my husband and I are gardeners, and it turned out that we had picked the best time to see the gardens - everything was in full bloom, and now I understand what a "riot of color" truly means. Monet's garden was so big that the lake in his famous paintings is actually across the road from the main garden and house - there is now a tunnel under the road for the visitors to get there safely (quite necessary in my opinion as drivers in Paris and the surrounding country-side drive like NY taxi cab drivers!)
But all the paths were full of tourists, just like ourselves, so the beauty of the surroundings was somewhat marred by all the chatter and bustle, and we had to queue for the best places to take pictures! But then, just as we came out of the tunnel and walked down the path to the lake, it started to rain ... a few people had umbrellas, but most turned around and walked quickly to the shelter of the house and gift store. We, being native Brits, are impervious to rain (!) and carried on to the lake, determined to see it and take some photos.
Standing under the towering willow trees, listening to the soft patter of the rain on the water, everything went still. The beauty of the flowers, the lake, the whole setting, overtook us. I completely understand now why Monet did so many paintings of his lilies on the lake and the nearby bridge. It was a place to commune with God - a glimpse of Eden. Even the rain seemed to pour gentle blessings down on us. When it stopped, the few of us who had stayed were given a gift of seeing this setting, newly-washed, as though we were cherished guests of the garden's creator - as indeed, we were.