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  • Every day I discover more and more beautiful
    things. It's enough to drive one mad. I have such
    a desire to do everything, my head is bursting
    with it.

    Claude Monet


    (Excerpt from a short story titled POSTCARDS EN ROUTE)

    I am spending the whole afternoon here in Monet’s luminous garden, soaking up the vibrant colors, listening to frogs, crickets and the whirr of hummingbirds. It is all bathed in the clear Old Masters light of early autumn, leaves beginning to burn with slow fire.

    His ‘paintings’ are everywhere you look – you feel them giving you a warm French hug. Bonjour !

    Being here is like stepping into a virtual reality dream. Instead of just looking at Monets on some well-guarded museum wall, here you can experience them in their third and fourth dimensions: shifting color, fragrance of herbs, nasturtiums, lavender. Here, you see inside his paintings, through them, around them, escaping the limitations of the frame altogether.

    You see with Monet’s eyes, and you want to pull out a brush and capture this vista, that bench over there under the willow. There are masses of lavender, clouds of it, hovered with dun colored bees and small white butterflies, giving the sense of the garden always in a soft focus slow motion, never static.

    There is a rich smell of apples, but I do not see any apple trees - perhaps a trick of the wind. And of course I spend hours by the pond, watching the water lilies drifting slowly through reflections of sky.

    How did he ever see with such clarity how things really are - indeterminate, approximate, tentative? In his shimmering blues and soft greens, his portraits of the numinous, he anticipates by decades the quantum physics of Einstein and Bohm, particles and waves in constant flux.

    Watching sunbeams and shadows dance across the water under the wind, I feel as though I am in a holy place, companioned with angels, angels who speak not with sound, but with light. Tomorrow, I begin my journey. These handwritten letters to you are fun, sort of like travel back into another time, a vacation from e-mail, which is so instant there is hardly ever time to catch up with one's self. Here, at Giverney, walking through flowers and watching clouds, there is all the time in the world.

    Postscript: One spring, my Aunt and Uncle, who collected art, were staying at the Plaza Athenee in Paris having appointments with art dealers. It was raining. One of the dealers told them that there was an ancient barn out in the countryside where a treasure trove of Monets (which happened to be out of fashion at the time) were languishing, gathering mold. He told them they could have the whole lot, just to take them off his hands, for around $5000. My Aunt thought about it for a moment, mentioned the rain as a kind of excuse, thanked him for thinking of them, but said their collection looked to the future, not to the past, and there was just not a place for Impressionists. And off they went to buy some early Yves Klines, of nude models rolling around in blue paint and then imprinting themselves and their privates in brilliant "Kline Blue" on canvas. Sic transit gloria mundi. This is the story of how I missed living with the Monet "Water Lilies."

    (Photograph by Alex in the Heart Garden Center in the 3-D virtual world of Second Life)

    (PHotograph by Alex in the Heart Garden Center, in the 3-D virtual world of Second Life)
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