Entries Categorized as 'About Nature'
January 4, 2015
This picture was taken on January 1st at Giverny. Outdoors, under a mistletoe plant growing on a tree. Mistletoe is extremely common in our area and can be seen on a wide range of trees including poplars, apple trees, aspens or oaks.
As long as the leaves don’t hide it, mistletoe is very visible and puzzles many visitors. It is a parasite and it does kill the branches it grows on by being too greedy, but the tree itself generally resists. In the meanwhile, mistletoe offers bed and board to many birds. It is now considered an ecological keystone species.
As a guide, I was recently asked by a client if we also kiss under the mistletoe on New Year’s Eve. Actually, we do sometimes, although I doubt this habit belongs to the French folklore. But because we love kissing in France, any excuse for it is immediately adopted, of course. However to tell the truth, the clock striking midnight is enough to start the kissing party.
I wish you many opportunities for kissing this year and twelve months full of love, friendship and warmth. Have a wonderful year 2015!
August 15, 2014
A puzzling sign hangs on a fence in Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny. Visitors are begged not to disturb the owl. They scrutinize the cage. Where can this mysterious owl be sleeping?
Their efforts to find the bird are doomed to failure, because there has never been any owl in the poultry yard. It should read “Don’t disturb the Fowl” but a puckish hand erased the F!
The French translation is vague: don’t disturb the animals.
What can be seen are two white and black turkeys and a few chickens. From time to time, the roaster sings a loud Cocorico, regardless of any owls or human beings that could be asleep in the vicinity…
July 26, 2012
Here are the moor hens living on Claude Monet’s pond at Giverny.
Every year, they nest on the island in the middle of the pond, or in the shrubs around. After a few weeks, they appear on the water with their adorable little chicks, five of them generally.
They are so sweet, light enough to walk on the lily pads. Both parents take care of them. But it won’t help.
Because we are human beings with a memory, we know what’s going to happen next: the ducklings will end in the belly of the pike living in the pond. This is the cruel story that repeats every year.
But because they are moor hens, and have not much space for brains in their head, they forget every year and keep nesting on the same location.
This afternoon two of the smalls only were left.
April 30, 2011
Frogs are very loud these days at Giverny.
The rest of the year, they are rather shy, and you rarely see them. But in Spring, especially in April, they croak.
The big bubbles the toad inflate on their cheeks betray them, although their color matches perfectly the water lilly pad they are seated on.
Their choir is not continuous. It sounds all of a sudden in the silent air. One frog starts, and quickly all the other ones reply, louder and louder. After a minute or two, they stop briskly.
I suppose they believe they sung harmoniously and are waiting for the applause of the visitors walking around Claude Monet’s pond.
December 12, 2008
I wanted to show you the red squirrels we have got in France. They are very different from the striped ones that are so common in other parts of the planet.
Red squirrels are generally shy, so you can’t promise to your child you will see one during your next walk in the wood.
But at Fall the squirrels come closer to the houses, looking for hazels. Once the leaves are fallen they can’t hide a lot, what makes them easier to photography.
It is absolutely lovely to observe a squirrel hopping on the ground and suddenly speeding up a tree. They are delightfully light and agile, which makes human beings feel clumpsy and heavy in comparison. Our bodies are so much bigger than theirs!