Seven years ago tomorrow, on my birthday in Y2K (2000), my husband and I visited Giverny, the former home (and now museum) of the French Impressionist painter Claude Monet. It was the middle of a whirlwind week in Paris, my first overseas trip that required a passport. Monet has been my favorite artist since my early 20s and my first art history class, my first real exposure to art that made me finally appreciate it as a worthwhile contribution to the world we live in. For some reason until then I had been given the impression that art was fluff, something extra, not something vital to our survival. Of course, now I feel very differently. You can learn a people’s history thru their art. A people’s art is their lives, their history. Hundreds and thousands of years later, all that remains of many cultures is their art. The people are long dead, the buildings in ruins – the art giving us a clue to who these people were, that they mattered, that they had been here at all.
I think about this quite a bit these days. As a child-free person by choice, I won’t have offspring who care, someone to pass on my knowledge, memories, memorabilia. I have a baby niece now, which gives me a faint glimmer of hope, but I know how big a part of my life my own aunts are (next to none, that is), so that’s just a straw to grasp at. I will long outlive my beautiful dog, and many dogs after her. I am getting older, the natural progression towards death someday. Late 30s is a lot older than mid 20s, and even mid 30s.
Birthdays lend to contemplation of navel lint and other important things by someone who spends time alone driving, walking a dog, or standing in the shower, scrubbing pensively, (it is where I do all of my great thinking). There also was an article in today’s Seattle Times, Legendary landscapes of Monet, van Gogh that reminded me of that special day seven years ago, of sitting on a bench in Monet’s garden, after walking across the Japanese bridge, staring out at the pond and eating butter cookies and drinking apple juice, with my loving husband of two and a half years, who helped make it possible to spread my wings beyond the Atlantic.
There also is worrisome financial news today, of the US dollar weakness against foreign currencies, Dollar’s new low against euro worries France, which reminded me of that amazing trip and makes me wonder when we will get to go to Europe again (our 2005/2006 winter trip to Italy was even more amazing then Paris). We won’t be going anywhere for awhile, probably, since we just bought a new townhouse and have spent a minor fortune in furnishing and decorating it (still in progress – have you any idea how much custom window treatments cost? whooee!) But I also don’t want to see our currency value slide even more, making it even longer before we can afford our next trip, probably to Germany. 2008? 2009? Who knows.
So, I am celebrating my 37th birthday tomorrow by going on a tour of King County farms with my husband and his father, and wine tasting at Rockridge Orchards, one of our favorite farmers market vendors. Then we are preparing an Italian-inspired meal to share with old friends and new neighbors. I will spend some time with my Italian greyhound, Sophia, and cuddling with our three cats – all in our new home. It’s going to be a perfect day. Even with the worries of international currency woes, travel costs, and lost art.
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