The Luxembourg Gardens in Paris was not on my “To See List” until I strolled through it on my way to take Chuckie to see the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Calm and peaceful. Beautiful. I was immediately hooked.
Traveling the world with a rascal cat in tow has its challenges.
When we were in Paris, Chuckie’s insistence on visiting the Eiffel Tower was a bit of a disaster. And then seeing the Hunchback of Notre Dame almost led to arrest and imprisonment? So, going to a park seemed safe. After all, the Chuckster loves to be outside and there’s no better park to visit, when in Paris, than the Luxembourg Gardens.
The night before I began building interest for the idea.
“Chuck,” I said, “tomorrow, let’s visit the second largest pubic park in France. Buddy, this park dates back to 1611 and covers acres and acres of land. Think of all the fun you’ll have running around. And for once, cats are allowed.”
Now, cats don’t smile--much--but I detected a gleam in his eye. He looked pleased to hear that he wouldn’t have to spend most of his time squished in my smart bag.
The next morning--super early--we took off for our destination, which luckily, was within walking distance of our hotel. The Luxembourg Gardens is a mega attraction not only for Parisians but also tourists. Its heyday was in the 19th century when the park boasted a marionette theatre, a music kiosk, a greenhouse, an apiary (bee house), an orangerie with sculpure and modern art on display), a rose garden, fruit orchards, and 70 works of sculpture scattered over the grounds.
And even today, the park has over one hundred statues, monuments and fountains--which includes twenty figures of kings, and queens and saints--but we weren’t really interested in all of that. As soon as we arrived, we made a beeline for the “Fountain of the Observatory,” because I know my cat, and he loves the sound of running water.
“You’re going to love this fountain,” I told him. “And just don’t look at the water. There are four statues up there, and each woman represents one of the four continents--Europe, Asia, Africa and America. They are holding up the world and spinning it around. It’s pretty cool.”
Of course, the only thing that Chuck really cared about was the water. He watched it spill in giant torrents from the statues and splash around.
The moment we arrived he was mesmerized.
And I was a nervous wreck.
If there is one thing I’ve learned--expect the unexpected.
It was just like Chuck to want to go over and drink from the fountain.
Now, cats don’t like to bathe in water. Thank God. So I didn’t have any fear that he would jump into the fountain, but cats do unpredictable things, especially when provoked, and even though we had the fountain pretty much to ourselves, I was on super alert.
But Chuckie seemed calm as can be.
He sauntered up, casual like, to the fountain. Continuing to stare at the water.
And I have to admit--it is a majestic sight.
All was well. And, in fact, Chuck started sniffing around, actually relaxing and enjoying himself. The sun had come out and it was promising to be a beautiful day in Paris.
I should have known that things never stay all right for too long . . .
I should have known not to let my guard down . . .
But, seriously, what could happen?
A gigantic dog suddenly appear and threaten to eat the kid?
No, it wasn’t a dog.
It was a butterfly.
Cats can’t seem to resist butterflies.
Sure enough, Betty Butterfly whisked on by the Chuckster and did a few neat little spiral turns around his head.
Chuck noticed her.
Whether Betty noticed Chuck is another matter. She fluttered her pretty multi-colored wings and flew off for a minute, only to return seconds later, and then she flew off again.
Chuck followed. He jumped up, of course, and tried to swat at her, but she cleverly avoided him.
Betty flew closer to the fountain.
I didn’t notice.
Neither did Chuck. He wanted only one thing. To get that Butterfly.
Or, should I say, poor Chuck because her flying slowly enticed him to move closer and closer to the fountain.
Soon, she was hovering near the edge and even though Chuck could feel the spray of water on his whiskered face, he plowed forward anyway.
The second it happened, I knew he was in trouble.
But it was too late.
In his efforts to squash Betty, Chuck had leaped onto the edge of the fountain and now he precariously hovered there as she skittled into view.
I don’t even thing he heard my screams of warning.
The poor kid toppled head first into the fountain.
Betty Butterfly disappeared after that.
Deliberate attempt to get her revenge on my cat??
Well, we pulled Chuck out, and now we had no other choice but to return home--our day at the park, slightly ruined.
And, no, I didn’t say anything--like--Did you learn anything from this situation, Chuck?? Because, after all, it’s in a cat’s nature to chase butterflies just as it’s in a butterflies’ nature to entice cats.