So I thought I’d do a light-hearted post about death and what not. Now I appreciate that on the face of it, it probably doesn’t seem too light-hearted but believe me, I think you’ll enjoy this one about flattened animals along the empty roads of Normandy. Well let’s hope so.
Before I begin, I must say I don’t particularly enjoy seeing various animal species KO’d on my local roads, however, it does make for some interesting driving and seeing which poor bugger didn’t make it to the other side. Also, I’ve never seen such a variety of animals and birds albeit dead. I’m a city mouse and now I’m a country mouse – the last time I saw a hedgehog in the UK was probably in the 1980s. In fact, I think they are extinct there now. I see them on a weekly basis here, albeit flattened as a pancake. Interesting fact – I do believe they are eaten in the south of France assuming before they are flattened.
So keen is my interest that I have taken to stopping my vehicle, getting out and standing over the unfortunate victim and papping them. There are some incidences whereby I would also be killed should I stop and take a picture. Some of the best road kill pics have been unattainable for those reasons and are generally in the darkness of the early morning school run. Unfortunately I cannot pap those and add them to my album.
When I first came to Normandy I was a tad judgemental about such road kills. Little Miss McJudgeyjudge so I was. It thought that there was no need for all these deaths. No need for it at all. I also thought that some French drivers could have avoided killing these creatures if 1) they drove like the rest of the world 2) didn’t get their drivers licence out of a Christmas Cracker. I know. I know – I love saying this to myself. I have used this expression my whole life and is as standard to shout it out in South London.
Come on, don’t tell me you haven’t ever said something along the lines about the way in which “the French drive” normally followed by words such as “nutter” “up my arse” “have you got an indicator?” “oh, I’ll guess which way you’re going shall I?” “twat” “stay there” “don’t you dare” “come on! you’d get a bus through there!” “can they even park?” “look at this muppet trying to park” “omg”. In fairness, I have said all of these in the UK but with much more frequency here. The one I have never said is the impatient one of “just go will you!” Nope. There is no need for that one. I digress.
That was until I, myself, became a road killer as, you see, it is relatively easy to kill animals here on these rural roads and that’s with me sticking to the speed limit of 80 kmp (50 mph).
My first taste of this was a bird – a frigging bird – you know a thing that has actual wings and can fly up and away. It decided to be all nonchalant like. How very French. The birds here are not like your A typical UK bird. A UK bird will not play chicken with a car. As soon as you approach (even a pigeon who’s carrying excess pounds) they will fly up and away. You won’t even need to slow down.
No French bird is doing this anytime soon. Much like a French person on a pedestrian crossing, they are going to cross the road when they decide, even if you stop for them. They aren’t gonna be told when they are crossing. Nor is a bird going to fly up just because you are approaching them at 50mph. They’ll be like “I’ll fly up when I’m good and ready and I may, just may not fly up and away at all”. Okay then.
Boom. I even slowed down for this bird as I hit the brake I couldn’t quite believe I had to brake for a bird. But brake I did and it still gave me the finger. His head went one way his feet the other. Yarp he was cut in half by my car grill. That was my first Normandy road kill. Prior to that I would often think how an earth is an owl, a kestrel or any high calibre bird laying dead in the road? This is how. They play chicken and often lose.
Next up was, I think a pole cat or a pine martin. It was long and weasel looking. I know I’m no expert when it comes to countryside animals. I know foxes. That’s your lot. It was dark, foggy and he came out of nowhere at a slow pace but not slow enough for me to miss him. Boom. Second road kill. A slow motion road kill.
I’ve had a deer spring out in front of me on another school run but managed to react with James Bond precision and my car escaped a right off and the deer his life. Wild boar running for it’s life with the chasse in hot pursuit. I have avoided many rabbits, a huge beaver type thing sitting all casual like in the middle of the road, in the morning darkness debating whether or not to cross. He may have even been smoking a fag with an expresso, I cannot be 100% sure….. I have avoided more things than I have killed.
I recently spotted a dog. Yes a dog. It looked like a wolf at first but no it was definitely a dog as the owners posted that he was lost on facebook the same day. I sent a picture of him to a local lady who runs the animal refuge centre. Later she sent the facebook link to a lost dog who came from the same village – again I spotted the dog on my return from the school run. However, in my quest to pap road kill, I may have come under suspicion of actually being the road killer myself! The owners wanted to talk to me. I suppose they would want to know why, someone would want to take a picture of a dead dog, unless that person had actually killed said dog. They didn’t, in the end phone me, however it might have made an interesting conversation. And indeed, I may be seen as the killer, whilst standing over these unfortunate animals. That is the price I may have to pay to bring you this little nugget of rural French life.
Finally, on a happier note, here is Mr Beaver who I kamikaze swerved to avoid whilst he was having a fag in the road. There are some that do survive even with their nonchalant attitude. Chapeau to them!
You have been reading Our Normandy Life!