Her Snowy Billowing Feathery Coat

I take long walks on the wide beach below my house, every day of the week. On weekdays, it is almost totally empty. And I love it.

The first time I spotted her, she was walking quite afar from me. She looked so stunning. She was splendid in her snowy billowing feathery coat. So graceful and so petite. 

I had never noticed her before even though I had been strolling all over the place for quite a few weeks.

It was getting late and I did not want to be caught by the rising ebb.

I shrugged and retraced my steps. I’d probably see her again.

The weather had been fine for weeks now. A little bit misty and cold maybe... Perfect weather though to take long walks on the beach.

Before the tourist throngs flood over our beach, you get to bump into the same people, day after day... ‘To bump into’ - wrong word considering the vastness of the beach.

I hit the beach the next day at about the same time. I had to walk for a long time before I spotted her. The sea was receding and rocks were emerging. There she was again.

Still wearing her snowy billowing feathery coat... Getting much closer to her, I noticed that she had put on black leggings and that she was sporting boots... bright orange boots.

She was beautiful. So beautiful that I stopped to watch her before resuming my promenade.

She was leisurely strolling along the shore, wading at times through the wavelets. She did not pay any attention to me. Maybe she did but since a deserted beach is a haven of peace, she never showed that I was bothering her.

I walked slowly past her because I did not want to disturb her. This is rule number one when you are wandering on the beach. It is a very peaceful place and you want to keep it that way.

On my way back, she was standing on a rock the ebbing sea had just unveiled. So elegant and graceful that I held my breath. 

I would have been so happy to swap my human nose for her sharp aristocratic beak, then and there. Wouldn’t you?


Postscript - My feathery friend is a Little Egret (Egretta Garzetta), very rare in our part of Brittany. I hope I have not offended him if it's a "him" since male and female look alike, even during the breeding season. Anyway, she/he is an incredibly beautiful bird that fills my heart with joy every time I cross her/his path on the beach. Almost every day...

*Good Luck, and Good Night*


I Love Spring Tides But...

I love living by the sea.

Whenever something goes wrong in my life, I need to come back home and rest or think things over while looking at the sea below my home. Just looking.

The Channel is not a peaceful sea. But I love it. I love it when I wake up to high tide with fierce waves beating up the cliff. I love it when I wake up to low tide with a golden sand beach below and peaceful wavelets far away.

I love taking long walks on the beach especially when it is deserted by humans and filled with birds, so different from season to season. We are so lucky to have so many migratory birds around here... even though I love to listen to the bickering gulls while I stroll along the shore all year long.

Right now, I am so happy because there is a wonderful spring tide... meaning that I get to walk even further into what should be salty water... an enchanted landscape filled with rocks of all shapes and heights, with seaweed resting on the sand while they are waiting for the sea to come back and small puddles crammed full with all sort of shellfish.

I love spring tide.

This afternoon, I decided against taking a long walk on the beach below. I’ve been taking long walks there every day ever since I came here. Very long walks.

Today is the very first day of spring tide and the weather is getting a lot colder because of a very fierce Northern wind. The sea is beautiful. But it is cold on the beach.

Instead I took a walk not very far from the village.

There is this islet not too far from the shore, called ‘Le Verdelet’. It is a bird sanctuary and no one is allowed there except during spring tides when an offshore bar emerges for a few hours. The shrimpers and clamdiggers are allowed to fish on the foreshore but it is still forbidden to climb on its slopes... especially now when so many birds are sitting on their eggs there.

I did not try to walk across to the islet. I am not a daredevil and I do not fish either!
I took a walk around and I found a nice spot where to wait for the tide to rise. I got there fifteen minutes before the end of low tide. I wanted to watch the bar disappear.
I know it is very impressive because I’ve seen it happen many times. But today was special... Very strong winds hence strong currents...

It was a good thing that the long Easter week-end had not started yet, bringing hordes of people over to Brittany... Spring tides are real crowd-pullers.

And spring tides spell disaster from time to time. Too many people are totally unaware of the scope of spring tides. They start to walk to islets which look so attractive. Then the tide rises and it rises very fast. In some places, it comes in as fast as a galloping horse.

The lucky ones get stranded on the islets. The unlucky ones... are washed out on a beach, several days later. It is hard to understand how something like this can still happen so often.

There are warning signs all over the place though, warning people not to try to come back once the tide is rising. They say that you are supposed to remain on the islet and call a number. A boat will come and rescue you... which is true.

A couple of months ago, a young man tried to walk back from the Verdelet a few minutes too late. He lost his footing and drowned right by a boat that had come to his rescue. This is what I call a very untimely and stupid death.

This accident was the reason why I wanted to check how fast the tide was coming in... I took two pictures. One at 2:23 p.m. And the second one at 2:46 p.m.

On the first one, people are walking back from Le Verdelet. The water is still low and the bar quite high above the sea level. But the tide reversal will happen in a few minutes... Within ten minutes, the bar will be submerged and totally impassable.

On the second picture, the bar has disappeared. The currents were so strong that they generated small waves. Small waves so powerful that you are washed out to sea before you get to realize what's happening to you.

Very frightening indeed.

And yet so beautiful.

*Good Luck, and Good Night*


Popeye's Atlantic Liner

Popeye is a sailor. And a good one too. No doubt about that.

Popeye loves to travel but there is nothing closer to his heart than the sea - seas and oceans - any vast expanse of water, preferably salty!

Guess why he fell so much in love with Venice? Easy, isn’t it? A romantic city? Wrong. Well, maybe but more surely because Venice used to rule over the oceans and stands in the middle of a laguna, right by the sea.

I still remember our trip on the Eastern Coast of the United States. Of course, we had to spend one night in Newport (Rhode Island), a Mecca for sailors, or else... The weather was very bad and foggy. Since our hotel was right by the harbor, the foghorn kept us awake all night long. Popeye was so delighted... I was furious.

Cars are almost inevitable in our life because there is travelling to be done even if we tend to travel by train a lot. But Popeye is not obsessed by cars.

Boats are his obsession! For years and years, he’s been going to the Paris Boat Show... and comes out of it with eyes shining and a mind filled with dreams.

Of course, we’ve been the proud owners of boats ever since we got married - almost!

Our first boat was a «Zodiac», an inflatable dinghy. Let’s not laugh at Popeye. He was happy as a lark, bobbing up and down the Mediterranean waves!

Years later when we settled down in Brittany, we bought our first real boat... a boat that looked like a boat with a hull and seats... A boat I hated so much that I used to throw myself overboard and swim to the shore whenever the waves would get too wild to my taste!

We had good times with this boat though. It was a good boat for wakeboarding... (for beginners, I mean...)

We still talk about one of our first engine failure right in the middle of the Rance. We were lucky to encounter some very nice old people on a huge boat from Jersey. They had to tow us to the nearest harbor. Their dinghy was bigger than our boat! I am not kidding. We still laugh about it!

This boat lasted quite a long time and kind of died on us... Popeye was crushed but since it happened right at the beginning of the cancer years,  he made the best of it. I mean, loosing his boat.

As soon as I started to feel a little bit better and therefore less self-centered, I realized his great loss and goaded him into buying a new boat! Don’t take me wrong! There was no spirit of sacrifice there because I chose the boat myself! Well, almost.

The «new» boat was nice and comfy, as comfy as a boat can be for me. It was 10 years old and sturdy. Not too small and not too big. Big enough so that I would not get scared if the sea turned choppy. Very fast for our wakeboarders. And fast enough to make landfall very quickly as needed. And it boasted two brand new engines. (An engine failure far from the coastline is very stressful when your boat only has one engine and then what?)

It was small enough so that we would not be tempted to «camp out» at sea since there was a cabin (small), a toilet, etc.

«Altariel» was a nice boat. It taught me not to be afraid while spending one whole day at sea. It taught me that being on the water can be a lot of fun and that the coastal countryside as seen from the sea can be very beautiful and striking.

We did have lovely times aboard Altariel.

Last summer was cold and rainy. Since Altariel had no top, we stayed home a lot while a sulky Popeye watched the sea from Les Tertres.

This was something to think about. And think we did.

This summer, Popeye will pilot an Atlantic liner... Her name is not “Titanic”. He called her "Galadriel".

*Good Luck, and Good Night*