Circle of Life

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October 26th 2008
Published: October 26th 2008
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Today I witnessed full-circle the process of existance. It makes me marvel everyday how connected to nature you become living in the country, and how detached us city-folk are.
My sunday morning started (with a bit of a hangover) unwittingly one hour ahead of schedule. Today the clocks went back in France and GB, so what I thought was a late wake-up of 10am, was really a fairly reasonable 9 o'clock. I was the second one up, Nigel having woke up early to try to fix the heater. It was hazy and cold, the first real day of Autumn upon us. I set about tidying up (a little work on the weekends is warranted, I think. It's not like they stop feeding me), and Nigel started fileting some mackerel. I've eaten mincemeat pies (which have no meat, fyi), blood pudding, cornbeef hash, fish pie (not a pie), steak and kidney pie (IS a pie), fish and chips, and now, mackerel for breakfast. Who needs to go to the UK? I've done it all, I'll just look at some pictures of Big Ben and it will have been like I visited.
As Nigel was slicing the meat off the tiny fish bones, the two boys started to migrate down to the kitchen, Finlay the five-year-old clad in a wife beater and underwear, and fluffy booties. I'm sorry I don't have a picture...I just didn't think his mom would want me taking apicture of him in his underpants. As a digression, in British, "pants" means "underpants" and "trousers" mean "pants". This is one of the more difficult vocab for me to adapt to, as every morning (it does seem to be a regular occurance) I ask Finaly, "why aren't you wearing pants?!" and he replies, "I am!! They're nice blue ones!!" And he's right. Luckily five-year-olds aren't embarrassed to talk about their underwear. So, Finlay, in nothing but his pants, hovers over the counter where his dad is preparing the fish. He digs his hands right in, unperterbed by the fact that he's among fish heads and guts. I do admire this about the young one, he seems to remain untouched by the prissy city habits, and also of the nasty bigoted sentiments sometimes espoused by his elders (he told his dismayed grandad that he wished he were a "gypo").
As Finlay played with the dead fish, he poked his fingers into one of their mouths, and exclaimed that one of them had eaten a fish, and the tail was sticking out of his mouth. His dad denied it, saying it was merely the tongue. I consoled the boy, telling him it did lok rather like a fin, and he insisted it was a fish tail that the larger mackerel had eaten. He was so persistent, that his dad took notice, gave it a tug, and pulled out a slim baby mackerel! We surmised that the larger fish had just snapped the baby down, right before getting snagged in a trawler's net. Alas, he was never able to enjoy his last meal, and I dwelt on the futility of it. Finlay was elated by the discovery (and we actually found two more in the same fish's belly), and picked up the little one by the tail, adding a voice over. "Hello, I'm a little fish, and you're my brother!! This one is my mom, and this one is my dad, and they died! Dad, you killed his mum and dad when you cut them up!! Which one is the girl fish and which one is the boy fish?" Don't forget that he's standing on a stool in blue underpants and booties playing with fish heads. I was in hysterics, and his brother couldn't figure out why. I guess when you're a teenager, and have to live with him, he's just annoying. I found the simple innocence absolutely refreshing, and wish I had it taped.
After our breakfast of pan-fried mackerel (Finlay was loathe to give up his little dead-fish friend, but we ended up feeding it to the kittens), we went to a vide grenier, which is like a huge garage sale. The people of the town clean out their houses of all trinkets and whatever they don't want, and display it on a table on the street. It was a frigid and gloomy day, but it didn't rain, so it was quite nice to wander around looking at other people's junk. I didn't find anything that would fit in my suitcase, but the atmosphere was lovely, and we got some chocolat chaud afterwards.
On the ong drive home, we passed a cow farm (which are mighty plentiful around here, Normandy produces a lot of dairy), and Cameron shouts out, "that cow is giving birth!" Naturally, we spin the car around and park next to the farm to witness the spectacle. Right as we got back to the site, something big and red spilled out of the poor cow, and I thought we had just missed the event. Luckily, it had only just begun. We watched from the very start, as poor old Bessie spurted out a tiny calf, nose and front hoofs first, then a mere ten minutes later, the entire baby (and much excess fluid). Covered in yellow slime, the poor calf lay in the grass, frigid, and barely breathing. Nigel said that the mother needs to get back up right away, lick her baby clean, and let it eat immediately, otherwise it might not survive. Mama cow wasn't budging though. We became her five-member cheering squad, encouraging her to get to her feet. Perhaps it was us spectators that inhibited her, but she didn't seem too bothered, just tired. Eventually, a farmer came out running, gave us a wave, and started prodding the heifer. Bessie looked at her with an expression that said, "do you mind? I just gave birth!" the farmer dragged the calf round to the cow's head, and after a tense few minutes, she laboriously climbed to her feet and began to lick her newborn. We all cheered, and decided to leave the new family alone. It was an incredible, and unforgettable moment. I felt like a proud aunt. Who knew something so gross could linger in your mind so affectionately?


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