Nature photography, political rants, and Martyman laughs from the ten-time award-winning author of "Cool Creatures, Hot Planet" and "Endangered Edens."

Flamingos in France

Flamingos

Marty’s photo of the day #1611: One of my most vivid memories of visiting France (while working on my first book) was just how nice the people were. Back in the U.S., Republicans in Congress had just renamed French fries “freedom fries” and French toast “freedom toast” in the congressional cafeteria, and pundits on Fox News had piled on the insults—all in protest of France not supporting George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

Hours after taking this flamingo photo (at Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue in Southern France), Deb and I walked into a truck stop and felt very conspicuous as the only Americans there. As burly truckers stared at us, we wondered if the childish insults and food renaming were on their minds. Were such actions now the American stereotype? Soon the stares disappeared and were replaced by occasional smiles and helpful tips on the proper way to eat escargot. Yes, everyone was eating escargot and drinking fine French wine!

The best part of the night was a friendly waiter, who patiently gave Deb a French language lesson. Thanks, France, for the most memorable truck stop meal ever. My thoughts are with you this week.

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