One Perfect Day

Our friends’ son slept over the night before our trip to Giverny, and I wake to the sound of the three boys, still in their beds, chatting about their stuffies’ eating habits. It’s a pleasant way to start the day. Eventually we rise and eat and make our way to the train station, meet up with our friends, and set off for Giverny.

This stop has been on Ben’s to-do list since last fall, when he first started to learn about Monet and the Impressionists. He painted many pictures of the Japanese footbridge in Monet’s garden:

Meanwhile, we’d been visiting Monet paintings wherever we could find them in San Francisco.

Giverny is fabulous. The gardens are in full flower — roses, sweet peas, cornflower, daisies, and a whole red field of poppies. The boys can run in the big field or amble along the paths; we give Eli the camera and he shoots and shoots like he’s on a photo safari. “Do you like this flower, Mama?” he asks; “I’ll picture it for you!”

The house is rambling and beautiful, every room painted a different bright Easter egg color. I wish I could have photographed the kitchen, which has walls of robin’s egg blue, blue and white tile, and is hung with a series of copper pots.

We head home and meet up with another family — friends from San Francisco — and linger in the courtyard of our rental apartment with glasses of wine and salty snacks while the boys toss a frisbee. A boy who lives in the building comes into the courtyard with a ball, and after kicking it toward us a few times, we get the hint and start up a bit of a soccer game with him. Eventually, people need dinner and we go to the bistro next door, filling it. There’s not much on the menu that Ben and Eli are interested in eating, but they sit and color and nibble on some sweet potato fries (of all things) before ordering big bowls of chocolate ice cream for dessert and then heading back home to bed.

I’m sure there was some whining somewhere along the line, there was some stress about the train tickets and the boys didn’t much like the picnic lunch we brought to Giverny (ignore the guidebooks that say you cannot picnic there; you are only forbidden from picnicking within the garden, but that leaves an entire field plus paths dotted with plenty of benches), but that all fades pretty quickly and what remains are the remembered scent of all the flowers and the image of one happy boy, grinning on the Japanese footbridge.

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