We live in a limestone area – eons ago, this was a shallow sea and millions upon millions of shells and sea creatures lived, died, and were made into limestone. (I think that’s cool though I have no idea How it happens. I can’t imagine the time or the quantity it took!)
Down below the village (I use up and down because we’re on a hill up here, and if you leave the village, you just automatically head down) is a well-known site for finding fossil shells. I often go down there to dig around for fun. The shells we find look as if they just came off the beach yesterday. The digging site is amazing. The sand and shells for some reason never formed into solid rock, so it’s like picking at packed sand, and the shells just drop out, intact. After a hard rain, there are hundreds just lying on the ground. I think I’ll take a walk down there soon and look around.
The fossils are from the Eocene epoch, which is when the first mammals made their appearance, and when the first great extinction event occured. The stratas delimitating this epoch are very clear in the small area where we dig for fossils. A black line, about three inches thick, marks the end of it. The sand is suddenly different, black, and full of organic matter. The shells disappear, all except one type, a sort ot tree snail, which is still found in the black matter. After that line, there are no more shells. What provoked the extinction is anyone’s guess. But what is certain is that the ocean dried up and forest took its place, and the millions of sea creatures living here formed into limestone, which was used for centuries to build the cities of Mantes, Versailles, and Paris.

Today it’s raining, but I’m happy – my new washing machine arrived. When they took out the old one, I found three socks that I’d been searching for for ages, and a mega-huge-spider scurried away under the counter. But I have decided to get over my spider phobia and so I will ignore it. It will probably grow to the size of a small terrier and then Auguste will have a playmate (with eight legs – do you think he’ll mind?). The washing machine is chugging away happily. I have about ten loads of laundry to do. It also has wheels! Is this a new feature? I can pull it out easily and clean behind it! No more losing socks and such!

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