Jeudi noir [black Thursday].
Meteorologically, the newspaper we purchased a couple of days ago had tagged today as Jeudi noir because of the clouds and storms expected to afflict much of La Belle France. Yesterday evening the sky was full of dark clouds illuminated by the occasional lightening flash, perhaps a prelude of things to come. Since we are somewhere relatively comfortable and increasingly quiet as people leave, rather than hitch up and travel in foul weather, only to have to set up in foul weather when we got somewhere else, we elected to batten down the hatches and sit out jeudi noir in relative comfort here in La Brenne. A few spots of rain fell half-heartedly during the night but nothing much. Rain did seem to start in more earnest at 6:30 AM, though.
The order had obviously gone down the lines to “let ‘em have it at first light”. Dutifully, at 06:45 hrs the artillery barrage began. Right on cue, the massed forces of the French hunting fraternity raised their shotgun stocks to their shoulders and “let zem ‘ave eet”. With the rain falling and the sound of gun fire, it really only needed the sky to be illuminated by lightening to simulate the flashes from the muzzles of field artillery pieces to be a fair re-enactment of a morning on the western front in 1917. Today is September 1st, the start of the French hunting season and I imagine that the “zem” in question were the thousands of ducks sitting in blissful ignorance on the reportedly 2000+ étangs in this area.
You have to remember that this is France and French time is bonkers, being two hours in advance of the sun. (Central European Time in summer is two hours ahead of GMT.) Celestially, therefore, the barrage began at 04:45 hrs. Given the weather conditions of heavy overcast and rain there really was no “first light” and I’m surprised anyone could see anything to shoot at. Nonetheless, being French and prepared to blast away at pretty much anything that shows any sign of movement, shoot they most certainly did.
The population on the lakes may now be reduced to hundreds. Today was certainly Jeudi noir for the ducks.