Boaz can spot animals in the wild so easily that walking with him anywhere sometimes feels like walking through a very laid-back zoo. We’ve seen owls, bats, deer, lizards, hummingbirds, so many rabbits and chipmunks, a blue heron, muskrats, a dozen raccoons, ibex, river otters, a wild baby pig, and a few other things I can’t remember right now.
In rural France his specialty is hawks and falcons, and we’ve seen more than I can count. I can count about three before I lose interest.
We’d really like to see a fox. The man who owns the 17th-century farmhouse we’re staying in says the forests around here are full of foxes, but he says we won’t see one. “You won’t see a fox.” he said just last night. Then he went on to describe foxes as reddish-brown, medium sized, short legs, angry. Pretty good description. We can pictures it in our mind's eye now I guess.
There are also supposed to be lots of buzzards, and those buzzards are in luck because there are so many dead things.
On a trail by a cornfield we saw two shrews, both dead, very small and soft-looking. We didn’t touch them. (Did you know shrew skin is tastes sour to cats? A cat owner told us that the other day.) Shrews have snouts that make them look like adorable little fur-covered elephants, or adorable little woolly mammoths.
Outside a pastry shop we saw two tiny tiny black mice, both dead and bloated, lying in the middle of the street. We looked at them as we ate macarons that tasted like lemon-cheesecake.
On the highway on the way to one of the many castles we saw a dead animal the size of a small duffel bag, with a white face. We’re still trying to identify what that one was.
I’ve decided the difference between being able to speak a language and being able to speak it fluently is knowing the little ways to express yourself when something unexpected comes up. I can ask for lemon-cheesecake macarons at the pastry shop, but if the cashier makes a joke about not giving us our change, all I can do is stare at him nervously, without blinking. I know there is something funny and normal to say back, but I don’t have a clue anymore what it is. When France gives us surprises I have nothing to give back except long, silent pauses.
The part of France we're in is mostly countryside so most of France’s surprises for us are small, dead animals. It presents them without comment and we stare back without comment, positive that there is something good and normal to say, that we used to know but we’ve forgotten.
I hope we see a fox soon, a live one. You know, reddish-brown, angry, with short legs.