Escapade en Lozère + A hike and a surprise encounter in Cevennes National Park

Les vaches
An all-French edition, comme ceci, caused a few of you to head for the hills last time. Relax! Even if you don't read French, tell yourself, "of the 1000 most frequently used English words, some 50 percent come from French." Well, maybe this is an exaggeration (as was that sudden exodus to the hills, or collines... speaking of which, look at the beautiful scene, above). Thanks to my belle-soeur, Cécile, for today's picture and for your pittoresque words, as in your example sentence, below, from the last line of today's story.

Today's word: accrocher

    : to hang (something) up on

Le réveil fut majestueux, comme accroché aux nuages...
The awakening was majestic, like hanging on the clouds ...

Audio File... I have a surprise for you today. Our son Max is back from Mexico. It is he who has recorded today's file. Click here to listen to it. 

Click here to listen to Max read the example sentence, with accrocher


ESCAPADE EN LOZERE


par Cécile Espinasse

Quand les emplois du temps sont serrés, et que l´on a quand même envie de se dépayser il faut savoir anticiper ce qui n´empêches pas les belles surprises.

De longue date était prévue cette escapade en Lozère, département magnifique et sauvage situé à 200 kilomètres de Marseille.
Nous avions avec une amie très envie de faire une randonnée dans le parc national des Cévennes riche par son histoire, cette région fut notamment un maquis antifasciste durant la deuxième guerre mondiale. Superbe par son architecture de maison en pierres de schiste et de lauze, mais aussi ses forets de chênes, châtaigniers, pins maritime.

Les vaches

Nous avons choisi de parcourir pendant 5 heures une partie du chemin de Robert Louis Stevenson, écrivain écossais qui durant l´année 1878 s´aventura dans les Cévennes avec son ânesse sur 252 kilomètres.

Après avoir laissé notre voiture dans le petit village de Saint Germain de Calberte nous avons pris la direction de Saint Jean du Gard. C´est une journée printanière qui nous attendait, baignée de soleil, de nature en plein éveil et de randonneurs qui comme nous marchaient d´un pas bien décidé.

Les vaches
Pas mal d´entre eux étaient accompagné d´un âne bâté, il va sans dire que ces randonneurs partent plusieurs jours et font des étapes chaque soir dans des auberges qui les accueillent ainsi que leur monture.

Nous étions admiratives, curieuses de tout et, de temps en temps nous nous écartions de notre chemin, attirées par un bruit, une plante, un arbre, une fleur sauvage... C´est ainsi que sur un chemin de traverse nous avons entendu des cloches. Au détour d´un virage broutaient deux vaches, petites, à poils très longs. Une autre bien plus grosse était couchée et ne semblait pas perturbée par notre présence. Aucun signe d´un berger quelconque ni de chien de ferme.

Les vaches
Je restai sur mes gardes un peu en arrière tandis que mon amie s´approchait plus vaillante que moi. Après un face à face droit dans les yeux avec l´une d´elle celle ci à fait mine de charger et nous avons passé notre chemin. Faisant demi tour un peu plus loin pour récupérer notre route initiale nous devions fatalement recroiser les bêtes. Le chemin n´était pas large et bien sur prise de panique je me suis mise à courir sur le talus ce qui a fatalement provoqué la course des vaches vers nous! Une fois à l´abri avons piqué un fou rire à gorge déployée! Le danger était passé nous avons randonné paisiblement humant l´air de la foret, écoutant les oiseaux.

Le soir nous étions attendus à Saint Hilaire de Lavit, commune qui ne compte qu´une poignée d´habitants, dans une ancienne magnanerie,"La magnanerie du Serre" où l´on faisait la culture du vers à soie. La propriétaire s´occupe d´une magnifique châtaigneraie, de ses ânes, ses moutons, ses chevaux... toute seule! Accueille jusqu´a neuf personnes en chambres d´hôtes, prépare un diner végétarien délicieux et plus que copieux. Offre une part d´histoire durant le repas.

Le réveil fut majestueux, comme accroché aux nuages...

--
For more of Cécile's creative work check out her Facebook page, Courbes et Diagonales, where you will see her designs. Read her previous story about Vespas, here, and her Insiders' Guide Where to Swim in Marseilles 
 (but my favorite story of hers may be about the Cat Café in Marseille...)



Read these classics:
Footsteps: Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer 
Robert Louis Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes.

SELECTED VOCABULARY & EXPRESSIONS

se dépayser
= to experience a change of scenery
un maquis = scrubland (also: WW2 resistance movement)
une randonnée = a hike
la lauze = flagstone, shale tiles
il va sans dire  = it goes without saying
broutaient (brouter) = to graze
poils (un poil) = hair, fur
rester sur ses gardes = keep alert
faire mine de = look like, give the impression
le talus = embankment
la magnanerie = silk farm
le réveil = waking up
Les vaches

Thank you for the time you've spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


C'est La Fête des Meres quelque part. Somewhere, it's Mothers Day (Just not in France)

My dear Mom
My precious Mom usually puts on her makeup lying down. In a pinch, she'll do things the conventional way. What I love about this picture are all the familiar items: her fish purse, her Panama hat, her compact mirror....


Something you don't know about me: I am (superstitious is not the word) very disciplined about not working or writing on Sunday. For me, it is a day to honor God (or Mom. And by that I mean "God or Mom" and not "God, or Mom"-- an absence of a comma in the first instance is used to distinguish the difference between the two (for some people there is no difference between the two). To me, most definitely there is!  Read on, in today's letter to Mom.

Dearest Mom,
 
It's a rainy Sunday here in La Ciotat and I'm feeling a pang of the blues. I wish we could be together--along with Heidi, Reagan, Payne, Max, and Jackie--for one big Mothers Day bonanza with you as the guest of honor!
 
Please forgive me for not sending a card or a gift. The Servicio Postal Mexicano ran off with such parcels 26 years ago, when you moved to Yelapa and I, to Marseilles! And no matter what we could send you it would not express our love and gratitude for you as our Mother anymore than these words which come from my heart, and Heidi's too...seulement, like a clumsy soeurette, I've hurried ahead (time zone in France vs Denver!) to deliver the message to you first :-P

Your feet resting on the open door of the oven (turned down low, warmth in an Arizona winter) you'd put down your racy book or The Bible and pause to tell us the story about Heidi and me looking down from the clouds and choosing our parents (we even chose different Dads!). This has always been a favorite story of mine, one I tell your grandchildren. But I know, deep down, it was God who chose YOU for us, and for good reason: you have shared your faith with us, and this faith is our anchor, our sustenance--our very espoir!

This is the biggest gift of all and you are the conduit. That makes you a direct pipeline to Heaven! But there must be a more poetic image for such a loving connection: It is your Motherly arms holding us whilst God is holding you. 

No matter how far away you are you are still protecting us. Though you had a broken tin roof over your own head for the past two years, you managed to keep a solid roof over our heads. One day we will write that story together, you, me, and Heidi, and share it with the world. Ceci c'est un début.
 
We love you, Mom! Aside from la foi, thank you for the stories, the solid rooftops, and so much more. It would take a pipeline to the beginning of time (where those letters and packages to Mexico ended up?) to measure a Mother's generosity, most especially la tienne.

Love,
Kristi

P.S. After posting yesterday's essay, several people said, including my Dad, that the woman in the story, the person I most longed to be, is you.

*    *    *
Happy Mothers Day to all who celebrate, including my dear Belle-Mère Marsha, in Seattle today--and Lynn-Lynn too (I've a few Belle-Mères up my sleeve!). We are especially thinking Michéle-France, my belle-mère extraordinaire.

FRENCH VOCABULARY 
seuleument = only
la soeurette = little sister, kid sister, little sis
l'espoir (m) = hope
ceci est un début = this is a beginning
la foi = faith
la tienne = yours
la belle-mère = mother-in-law, also means stepmother

Mom on wheels
A favorite picture of my fearless Mom (I know, I know, you don't capitalize "mom" in that last sentence. Here's a bumper sticker for those grammar sticklers--tack it on the back of your car (my own rides a motorcycle or a horse): "M" for Mom, period! 

Thank you for the time you've spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa


Profiter de la vie

Jean-Marc wooden boat
My old man, who records the sound files for this word journal. Merci, Jean-Marc!

If only we'd stop trying to be happy, we could have a pretty good time. -Edith Wharton
Si seulement on essayait d’arrêter d’être heureux, on pourrait peut-être profiter de la vie.

Today's Words: Profiter de la vie

    : to enjoy life

Audio File: click the words below to hear the soundfile:

Profiter de la vie


 DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

When I am old and wrinkled—well into the troisième âge—I want to race along the shores of Brittany on my Mobylette, that most groovy of French bikes with an engine!

I want to be an eccentric vieille dame. I don't want to care about what anyone thinks, as long as I am not imposing myself on their philosophie de vie. I'll ride my old bike along the seashore. I'll wear black goggles and wrap a long wool scarf, in orange potiron, around my neck. Off I'll fly, scarf ends flowing in the wind.

I'll let go of the pedals, WHEEEEEEEEE... and sing a song by Yves Montand—or a tune from Les Misérables—depending on my mood.

I'll pack a picnic with all my favoris. Inside the panier there'll be boiled eggs, anchoïade, Gratin Dauphinois, pungent cheese, a soft baguette and a flask of Earl Grey. There'll be tangerines to eat and a few squares of dark chocolate.

I'll gather delicate coquilles from the foamy seashore and tie them to my shoes. You'll hear the jingle of seashells when I pedal by.

My voice will be agreeably hoarse, not from les Gauloises or le vin but from whistling all the day long—a habit I'll have picked up at the beginning of the century, when a certain Frenchwoman cautioned: "Les femmes ne sifflent pas! Women don't whistle!" That's when I puckered up and blew another tune... and another... and then one more!

I hope to have a dear old friend, one who is much more excentrique than I. She'll dye her white hair rouge vif or aubergine. We'll tchatche about the current generation and how people need to loosen up and 'profiter un peu de la vie,' enjoy life a little, like us.

I'll say, "Pépé! Les oursins!" and my old man will return from the rocky pier where he has spent the morning hunting sea urchins. When he cracks open their coquilles, revealing the mousse-like orange roe, I will remember that real treasures don't come with a price tag.

I want to live near the seagulls so that I may slumber beneath their cries and wake up to the whoosh of the sea. I'll push myself to a stand, smooth back my white locks, adjust a faux tortoiseshell comb, and say "Dieu merci!" for another day.

Before I tuck myself into bed at night I will, once again, empty mes coquilles into an old metal cookie tin, a treasure from long ago. Looking over at my seashells, I will give thanks: my cherished, tired tin runneth over.


Hat-freckles
When this story was first written, I didn't have a dog and could not know one of the essential vital ingredients to happiness (besides my old man) in one's golden years.

French Vocabulary
Listen to the following list of French words: 
Download MP3 

le troisième âge
 = retirement
Mobylette = a particular model of moped, a vintage Mobylette
une vieille dame = a venerable lady
une philosophie (f) de vie = a life philosophy
orange potiron = pumpkin orange
favori(te) = favorite
un panier = a basket.
l'anchoïade
(m) = anchovy purée mixed with olive oil
un Gratin Dauphinois = a potato casserole with milk, butter and cheese
une coquille = a shell
la Gauloise = brand of cigarettes
le vin = wine
excentrique = eccentric
rouge vif = bright red
aubergine = eggplant purple
tchatcher = to chat (away)
le pépé = grandpa
un oursin = a sea urchin
Dieu merci = Thank God
Paint provence with Tess

First-fava-bean
We both love to putter in the garden. It's fun to collect fava beans.
Le Levant Island

Thank you for the time you've spent reading this post. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving this journal. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Sent with love and gratitude for all of your wonderful, insightful and creative stories and photographs. My life is enhanced reading your books and blogs beyond measure! May you continue to be blessed doing what you love and feel the gratitude of your devoted readers. Appreciation, hugs and love to you and your beautiful family!"
--Lisa