in order to place some limits on my excessive beach collecting, i will often give myself limits for the day such as “only auger shells” or “only striped beach rocks”. “only sea glass” is a common constraint. this was the first time i used “only black or white shells”. i am loving the results.
mediterranean beach shells
le lido, between sète and marseillan, france
roadsides, ditches, vacant lots, and the wild garrigue scrubland that surrounds us are all full of plants like this. they punish any effort to move among them with wicked lacerations and puncture wounds, never mind what it’s like trying to pick them with anything less than thick leather gloves. fortunately, when it comes to the human fauna of this region, and despite almost every cliché about the prickly French temperament, we are almost universally greeted with mediterranean warmth, and physical affection. i will miss the casual intimacy of the double cheek kiss as a greeting when we get back to chilly minnesota.
a particularly evil mediterranean thistle (scolymus grandiflorus)
along the mediterranean near sète, france
the roads here were not made for cars. most of them were made for horses and donkeys and a few were even made by romans 2000 years ago. sometime in the last century the were covered with a thin layer of asphalt. as you can imagine they are not two car widths wide. the best roads, the widest ones, are about one and a half cars wide. so as two cars pass, both cars must slow down and each puts one tire into the side road, only inches from the run-off ditches that line all the streets. and each time we do this, the entire side of the car, and my arm leaning out the open window, is whipped be these meter high stalks of wild fennel.
we learned within hours of our arrival in southern france that we had a swallow’s nest with babes under our terrace overhang; mama was trying to keep everyone fed, and it was clearly hard work. she was swo0ping in and out all day. apparently the urge to fledge has more to do with brain chemistry or the calendar than waiting for favorable meteorological conditions. because this guy decided yesterday was the day to start flying. but, as is typical here, the wind was slamming shutters and shaking tree tops. and so we watched with fascination and a little bit of horror as he launched himself into our courtyard, and then got caught in an eddy of wind which carried him from within centimeters of one stone wall and then another. at some point we turned away. it was like watching brazil against germany in the world cup. i didn’t want to watch. about an hour later our ten year old, joseph, found him/her on the garage floor looking very much the worse for wear, with wings stuck out at odd angles. we nursed it as best we could, and then gingerly placed it beside its nest so that mama could take over. we decided she is a much better swallow parent than we are.
in our courtyard, autignac, france