this day, like any day on the island, starts with butter. salted butter.
confiture tomates-vertes. green tomato jam. this time, thanks to a friend of the volunteer who sent him off with jars of jam.
today is part of la fête de la nature, a yearly event all across france that celebrates nature with free activities. and you will be busy busy busy helping, so the camera won’t be coming out too much.
someone’s brought in an injured hibou. owl. a moyen duc. a long-eared owl.
the maison du fier has just opened.
people file in. then file out as they leave for their respective field trips.
then, as things wind down and dusk settles in… the astronomy club arrives. with their telescopes.
you impatiently wait for the sun to set behind the MDF so you can start gazing upwards.
you consider yourself lucky, as usual, because the astronomy club of the charente-maritime region is made up of some of the nicest people. it all begins with a far breton being offered to you as everybody waits for the night.
then they enthusiastically answer all your questions about the stars, the sky, the sun – everything. even the stupidest questions, they answered without making you feel awkward. what interests you most is the discussion about la crépuscule [twilight] and all the angles that are important to sunset watchers.
you see saturn, m55, the milky way, plenty of constellations, the north star… in a pocketable size. it makes you rethink the idea of size, as you can’t quite get over the fact that you just saw an entire galaxy live – not a photo, not a video, not a movie, but the real thing no bigger than perhaps a large coin.
you hang out with the astronomy club until about 2h00. you wanted to stay until 3h30, but your body needed sleep.
three hours and thirty minutes later, at 7h00, you’re up and ready.
a sortie ONF is about to happen, and you’re on the schedule. l’office national des forêts. the national forests office, who is in charge of the forests and the dunes at île de ré.
you might be beyond tired but you find everything that is said fascinating.
for example, the forests were not here originally. they were planted here in hopes of stabilizing the dunes and keeping the ocean from taking back land.
also, you’d think that the ONF would have national park status, or something similar… but no. in fact, all their forests are considered private property. and in a land known for it’s administration fun, it is a headache as there are then plenty of loopholes for people to steal land which the ONF must constantly keep an eye out for.
dunes. your favorite. the protector of the island from the ocean. however, they sadly need protection from humans (thus, fences) as walking and playing on them only makes them more fragile and less effective against the ocean. you think it’s a bit sad how something that protects humans needs protection from humans as well.
here is really the moment where you begin to truly like la plage sauvage. a wild beach. a beach that is far from the pristine spotlessness that most of the world has decided is ideal. a beach full of plants that prick – but also keep the dunes in place – is what you now you prefer. the more you understand it, the more you prefer it.
then, your usual formula. sunset, dinner, and sleep. preceded by other activities and a long afternoon nap.