I have an urge to pinch myself. The ducks floating along, bobbing under the water for food, the brown one preening himself about two feet from me—they could be swimming in any pond or fountain in the world. Power Ranch not far from my house. Meadow Lake in Enid. Literally anywhere.
But as my gaze moves further down the sandy walkway, I see the massive stone columns designating the corners of the garden – some square, some circular, topped with statuary centuries old. Satyrs, Nymphs, Roman soldiers, a woman holding a child aloft. They tower over the garden and surround the 196 foot diameter basin where I sit.
I am seated on one of the painted green iron chairs that surround the fountain. There are other, smaller pools around the perimeter. The languages around me are foreign: French, German, Italian, Middle Eastern. Different but much the same. Friends taking photos of friends who pose on the rounded cement edge of the basin of water. Parents speaking to children– their intentions obvious and familiar though the words themselves are not. I see on their faces and the children’s responses: No. Not so close. Be careful. A few bread crumbs at a time. We will get ice cream later. Why? Why not? You’re tired. A father gives directions to his wife and two lovely teen-age daughters and I know he is saying, smile, or take off your sunglasses, or OK, now….
Suddenly the wind picks up and shifts direction. I feel a mist and look up to check the clouds above me. The sun shimmers through the gray density but there is no sign of rain. The mist is from the fountain which shoots high into the air before splashing back to its stone base and then down into the basin itself. I hear giggles as people check the images on their cell phone cameras and conversations with family or friends back home.
My eye wanders ever further and my focus is taken by the long rectangular buildings to the right and left, and the one dead center – forming a court yard with an arched stone gateway entrance. On top of the arch the gold angel figurines draw attention though the central sculpture appears charcoal gray and without detail from this distance and with little sunlight. A horse drawn chariot, its rider standing, staff in hand. The Louvre.
In Paris. In France. I am sitting in the Tuileries gardens looking at this famous building. A half hour ago I had lunch at an outdoor café with this same scene. Am I dreaming? No. But it feels that way. I soak it in and let myself doze slightly for just a moment. I will wander a bit now. I’ve rested long enough. Behind me, miles away but looking so deceptively close, is the Eiffel. Another day. I’m not up for the walk or even the bus ride. Not today.
Today is strictly for the gardens and for thanking God for my good fortune to experience this moment.