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Encounter with the Natural Park

After being present for solar energy at the Festival du Vent where we met plenty of green people, we were living in Corsica in a mobile home lent by a friend, hitch hikking with a weekly budget of 10 euros. Then one day we were working at the university of Corte (Corsica) and I come back from a food sting and am ready to eat. But Mike isn’t down for the feast ...

What sort of hobosophy is this!?

The Natural Park of Corsica was having a cocktail just outside the building, we never figured out what for, but when it comes to free food, the hobosopher eats whatever and whenever the hobosopher can eat. Gripped with this sudden sense of urgency to eat as many entrées as I can, I run down the flight of stairs and onto the veranda. I switch into calm disinterested mode with a hint of purpose — to discourage any questioning of my activities, yet at the same time not so much as to provoke an attack on my vagrant activities.

I quickly gravitate to the entrées. There are sandwiches. I smoothly take one just in passing. As I begin to coolly eat my prey I realize it is necessary to create some sort of pretext for staying a longer amount of time — a longer amount of sandwich time. A little bit of slight of hand is in order. I casually wander over to the brochure table, and start prodding gently.

I suddenly remember that the Natural Park is one of the things we wanted to talk to, in order to get some solar concentrators up to the mountain refuges. I quickly run through algorithms to combine an excellent reconnaisance opportunity with swiping more than my fair share of sandwiches — fair share being zero.

At this point I notice the light conversation taking place a meter to my left. A women sits on the end of the table like she has a right to be there. I reason she does have a right to be there, and I start looking for an opportunity to approach her … or someone like her … but only after I’m somewhat less hungry. My immediate goal at this point was deciding what to eat next. Sandwich, sandwich desert, sandwich? Or Sandwich, desert, sandwich, sandwich, Sandwich? Or Sandwich, wine, sandwich, desert, desert, sandwich, wine, cheese, sandwich, desert? It was a difficult nut to crack; had there been nuts to crack I would have just eaten those. But without nuts in the picture, this was going to be tough.

As I contemplated how to maximize my good fortune, the discussion to my left suddenly energizes; in retort to a point made by one of her colleagues, which must have been founded on the evidence that there’s considerably more free food than people around. the woman proclaims that there’s plenty of people interested in the Natural Park.

"Comme qui ?" (Like who?) her colleague rejoinders. "Comme... je ne sais pas mais plein de gens" (Like … plenty of people.) "Par exemple, ce jeune là(such as this this young man?†(gesturing to me prodding the brochures) “Vous êtes intéressé par le parc naturel, n’est-ce pas?" (You’re interested in the natural park right?)

“Oui" Yes, I reply, "Je travaille avec des concentrateurs solaires, et j’aimerais mettre des fours solaires dans les refuges de montagne." (I work in solar concentration, and I’d like to put some solar ovens in the refuges.) Jubilant her little ruse succeeded, she turns to jibe her colleagues , and then suddenly does a double take. " ... Quoi?" (… what?)

I slowly slip into the gig. I toss a bit of low tech solar concentration basics into the mix. She doesn’t know if she quite understands, but her intrigue leads her on into the depths of the hidden realm of the eco field engineer. I’ve played this game before. I dance and nimble, I zig and I zag like I’m going nowhere; and yet … and yet I understand the mountain refuges function off gas that has to be brought up by helicopter. Even if it only saves 20 percent of gas, the savings is really double or more, as it reduces, not only the gas for the helicopters, but the maintenance and labour.

I tell her we’d even do it for free, as the goal of our association is to diffuse the technology as far and as efficiently as possible, and so many people pass the refuges that it’s an opportunity that cannot be passed up. She suddenly starts to comprehend that my actual interest is ecology, and turns her attention-nob from "intrigued while at the same time it’s her job to talk to me" … to high.

Tactically speaking, I probably should have stopped eating the sandwich, but my frontal lobe has a hard time over-riding my brain stem. I manage by continuing to eat, but pretending like I’m not eating so honestly that opposing interlocutor has no choice but to also pretend like it’s not happening. It doesn’t seem serious, but in france, eating habbits are very, very serious, but I’ll talk about that another time.

I ask what’s the best way to approach the park, and we switch into serious mode. She explains that the best thing to do is take a meeting with the president in Ajaccio; I ask for numbers, names, addresses, everything. She starts spilling the soon to be solar roasted beans, but I don’t have a pen. It’s a strategic catastrophe. The first rule in the tacticus (a book of arbitrary rules to keep in mind) is communicate, which means having a writing utensil at all times. I tell her to hang tight, and I run back inside and up the stairs to get a pen.

By the time I rush back, she’s brought her boss over. I sing the same tune and he likes what he hears, I whip out the laptop and I explain the technology in more detail. We agree we should have a meeting. I say I’ll be in Ajaccio in a couple of days and am available anytime. He responds that if we make the meeting now, it’s done: a meeting to make a meeting never happens he says. This wisdom impresses me. Anytime I reply. We make the meeting for next Wednesday at 2 o’clock, we shake hands and then depart. Mike and I debrief, I tell him how it happened, we agree that it’s totally awesome. I book it back outside for some more sandwiches. The cocktail has been packed up, the sandwiches are gone.

All is lost.

Such are the sacrifices of the eco field engineer.

Eerik Wissenz
décembre 2007


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