Glâner: a useful, necessary, verb for Earth Day 2018

Earth Day 2018 Glaner figs Agnes Varda dumpster diving
April 22nd is Earth Day. Reading about our earth's demise has me thinking of a little known French verb -- a verb underdog if you like.  Meet the humble Glaner ("to glean"). Certain French artists highlighted the practice years ago--making the art of gleaning as fashionable as the art of wandering. In other words, it's time to glaner as you flâner! Please read today's story.

TODAY'S WORD: 
glaner (glah-nay) verb

   to pick, to gather, to glean


ECOUTEZ/LISTEN:
Listen to Jean-Marc read the following text: Download MP3 or Wav file

Quand vous ferez la moisson dans votre pays, vous ne moissonnerez pas vos champs jusqu'au bord, et vous ne glanerez pas ce qui pourra rester de votre moisson; vous laisserez tout cela au pauvre et à l'immigré. - Leviticus 23:22

When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. Leave it for the poor and the foreigners living among you.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE...
by Kristi Espinasse
 

In the dramatic opening scene of her memoir The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls is riding in the back of a New York taxi, wondering whether she has overdressed for the party to which she is headed, when she sees something that knocks the wind right out of her Park Avenue sails.

Out there on the curbside, an older woman wearing rags is rooting through a dumpster. On closer look, the garbage picker is Jeannette's own mother! 

As I read the page-turner memoir, I could only imagine how a daughter's heart seized up on seeing her intelligent, artistic, and once athletic mother resort to rooting through the trash. What had brought her to this? And, more curiously, why was the waste picker smiling?

It wasn't until I saw the fascinating documentary, The Gleaners and I (Les glaneurs et la glaneuse), by French filmmaker Agnès Varda, that I began to see this touching scene quite differently, and even to recall a few gleaning episodes of my own. Before writing about those, I will share some of the eloquent descriptions I gathered from viewers' reactions to The Gleaners:

... a wonderful documentary that reminds us of how much we produce and waste in the world and how the disenfranchised (and artistic) make use of that waste to survive... The characters Varda encounters are equally compelling and interestingly are not portrayed as whiny or blameful of others for their situations: they simply state how they live and we are left impressed with their ingenuity. (anonymous)

One of my favorite scenes in the film is when we are introduced to a wizened Chinese man in Paris living at home among a heap of dumpster gleanings. He has taken in a boarder—a happy-go-lucky black man who hunts the day long for discarded food and items that he himself will repair and give away to those less fortunate than himself. "Somebody might need this," the ragpicker says. Evenings, the Chinese man will cook up the dumpster chicken in one of the ovens that his resourceful roommate has brought home. As the men prepare to dine together, seated on crooked chairs and ever amazed by their "fortune", I have to reach over and hit the pause button. Have you ever seen such sweet faces, such sparkling eyes, than on these two lovely men who care for one another and for others? 

In another scene, we observe a clean-cut wirey man stooping here and there as he scours the market stalls in Paris at the end of market day. Here and there he pops a broken piece of celery or apple or lettuce into his mouth... "Beta carotene! Vitamin K! I'm a biology major," he explains, adding that though he earns a salary, he still needs to eat and by the way, he's vegetarian! He admits that cheese is a little more difficult to find, but there's plenty of tossed out bread. We later learn that though he holds a scientific diploma, this biologist chooses to sell papers outside the train station. In a touching "who'd have thunk it?" scene, we see the same garbage picker volunteering his time, each evening, to teach refugees English. His carefully illustrated blackboards featuring, among other objects, a hand-drawn bike and its phonetic word equivalent, attest as much to his selfless and caring soul as to his professionalism and skill.    

There are several other heart-awakening moments in which Agnès Varda steadies her lens on the outcasts who in turn teach us more about the art of living than we will ever glean from the pages of any New York Times bestseller on the subject. The rag-wearing, sometimes toothless characters could write volumes on the subject. Meantime they have more meaningful pursuits: getting by, while managing to smile at life. 

As for my own dumpster days—as a privileged child—I'd root unselfconsciously through the trash bin (one we shared with the neighbor), ever amazed at the ongoing source of riches (in this case--cans of Hamm's beer which could be recycled for cash after stomping the cans flat!). Our neighbor, a single, middle-aged woman, regularly replenished the trash bin with this blatantly underestimated source of income! I began to feel sorry about her loss, which to me related to her pocketbook and not her liver health (I had no idea that all those cans equaled addiction). 

I regret losing the desire to salvage things (publicly, at least, though the occasional foray through a stranger's trash still happens), but I am grateful to live here in France, where gleaning is alive and well and rooted deeply in the culture! How many times during family outings has an uncle or a cousin or a grandma stooped to pick up a tumbled down apricot or a chestnut, or paused to uproot a lonely asparagus or a bunch of herbs from the edge of a neighbor's yard. "Have you seen what they charge for this at the markets?" my in-laws shake their heads. Soon they'll make up a fresh batch of herbs de provence--more fragrant and delicious than can be found on any supermarket aisle. 

When my husband returned from the States after his multi-city wine tour he brought me an unexpected surprise: two charming rush-bottom chairs!

"I found them in the airport parking lot," Jean-Marc explained, "beside the dumpster." I admit, if he had brought those home 15 years ago--as a consolation gift for his two-week absence, I might have been hugely disappointed! Nowadays, I don't want the ill-fitting T-shirt that he had quickly rung up at a pricy airport trap shop. (I'd rather have a couple of bars of chocolate, or, in this case, some adorable chairs!) 

Each time I look at the chairs, I feel the same kind of affection one feels when looking at some of the characters in Agnès Varda's documentary. They are quirky. They are imperfect. They are charming. They are lovely. And, as one of the men in the film said, "they are needed."

Gleaners-and-i

    - To see a preview of this wonderful film, click here.
    - Rent the entire video here or let us know if you found --gleaned it -- it somewhere ! Thanks.

Film maker Agnes Varda turns her camera lenses toward modern day gleaners--the poor, the dispossessed, the ecologically aware and the alienated--to paint a new but still somewhat romantic image of those follow along behind the parade of life, picking through its remains. - Jean E. Pouliot

I enjoyed seeing parts of France not normally seen on the screen or by tourists. In fact in some ways this documentary could serve as a kind of travelog so widely does Varda and her camera travel about the French countryside and cities. - Dennis Littrell

 Global culinary tours
BORDEAUX AND THE DORDOGNE small group tour Sept 17-25 - culture, cuisine & wine. Click here for itinerary.

Thank you for the time you've just 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! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy


Dégouliner: the rain trickled, dripped, and poured but it didn't keep us from touring La Ciotat

Cement church tiles in la ciotat France salamander
Something about these reptilian tiles tells me they are not as old as our church (built here in La Ciotat in 1603. The cement tiles, it turns out, were set down 8 months ago, during a partial renovation). I do like them, though, and you? Some say the salamander is symbolic. Of what, I wonder? My friends from North Dakota and I had hurried into the 400 year-old église to escape the deluge outside. More, in today's column, below.

Today's word: dégouliner

    : to drip, trickle, bleed 

Example Sentence and Audio File, text read by Jean-Marc:

Click here to listen to the sound file

Couler lentement, goutte à goutte ou en filet. La sueur lui dégoulinait dans le dos. Peinture qui dégouline du pinceau. -les-synonyms
To slowly pour, drop by drop, or in a stream. Sweat trickled down his back. Paint that drips from the brush.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE


    by Kristi Espinasse

Il y a des jours comme ça!  Grrr! I've lost the previous version of this post--poof, just like that! At times like this I am tempted to jeter l'éponge, or throw in the towel. Speaking of sponges and serviettes (oh, the power of French words to get us back on our feet again!), we could have used those last week, during le déluge. Instead, my friends from North Dakota and I ventured out into la pluie--unwilling to let a few too many raindrops gâcher notre vie!

Brian Miranda Erin  Smokey golden retriever
First stop: home! Brian, Miranda, and Erin stopped by our (still-under-renovation) house, to pet Smokey.  Wearing K-ways with built-in capuches they were ready to face the upcoming cloudburst, or rafale de pluie.

Church door la ciotat France notre dame de l assomption vieux port boats
Beautiful carved wooden door and anciennes tomettes carrées. Looking out to the Vieux-Port from inside Notre Dame de L'Assomption

Briocherie la ciotat franche vieux port potted tree
How would you like to live behind a briocherie? Would you be tempted to stop there each morning? I hope you are reading closely, because this is a first hint about some news we have to share with you. Here's hint number two: the next time someone asks me the following question, I may be able to say "Oui!"...

"Kristi, do you know of a place I can rent in La Ciotat? A darling little place overlooking the port? One where I won't mind climbing 3 flights of stairs to get to that magnificent view?"

Enough hints. On to the next pictures (all taken by Erin) which have nothing to do with the upcoming news (except that they are near the historic old port of La Ciotat--just like that neat short-term rental unit!)

Kristi miranda brian la ciotat square
Standing with Miranda and Brian in La Place Sadi Carnot. This little square is usual alive with bistro tables and people enjoying the sun, but, as stated earlier, pas de soleil today! A note about Place Sadi Carnot--it was part of the ancient cemetery, surrounding the church, in Roman times.

Cafe de l horlage

Boucherie orientale
The scent of roasted chicken drew me and Miranda (still wearing her trusty capuche) right into this Boucherie Orientale.

Voilà, those were just a few more photos from my friends visit. You can see part one (Cassis) here. And Miranda has written more over at her blog. If you click on the smaller photo near the end of this blog, it'll start the seconds-long video of the stormy sea. What a contrast to those beautiful and peaceful tree blossoms in the foreground! 


FRENCH VOCABULARY REVIEW

dégouliner = to trickle (rain), drip (paintbrush), run (make-up)
gâcher la vie = to ruin one's life
une église = church
une éponge = sponge
le déluge = downpour, torrential rain, The Flood
la serviette = towel
K-way = windbreaker or raincoat
la capuche = hood
les anciennes tomettes carrées = old square terracotta tiles
la rafale de pluie = cloudburst, blowing rain, rain squall

Merde!: The Real French You Were Never Taught at School (Sexy Slang Series)
Paris-themed mini umbrella 
T-Shirt "I Don't Need Therapy I Just Need to Go to France."
La Roche-Posay sunscreen - rated top by Consumer Reports
Nothing says "summer in the south of France" like these wonderful quick-drying towel used in Mediterranean countries


Women at DRC
Autumn excursion in France, especially for women - "Women in Burgundy: Life, Laughter, and the French Paradox” October 18 to 27, 2018 - includes two nights in Paris. Click HERE for details.

 

 

Dogwood blossoms or some other kind in la ciotat on the beach
"Cercis siliquastrum." These beautiful arbres de Judée, or Judas trees, are blossoming all over town! You can just see the raindrop on the edge of that lower branch of this "redbud tree"... the drop about to dégouliner or trickle down to the ground. I hope you enjoyed today's périple, or trek through La Ciotat. See you in a few days.

Thank you for the time you've just 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! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy


Quel temps de cochon! Beastly weather in La Ciotat, Cassis, and Sanary-sur-Mer!

Hudson and the Puppy lost in Paris
Out now! Jackie Clark Mancuso's latest in her much-beloved Hudson series: "An expatriate dog in Paris meets a young stray and helps him search for home...via a whirwind tour of Paris with stops at Hudson's favorite haunts." Order a copy here.

un temps de cochon

    : lousy weather, beastly weather, 

Thanks to my friend Dominique for sharing today's expression!

Audio File:

Quel temps de cochon: click here to listen to the sound file

Quel temps de cochon!
What lousy weather!

Global culinary tours
BORDEAUX AND THE DORDOGNE small group tour Sept 17-25 - culture, cuisine & wine. Click here for itinerary.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

My friends from North Dakota just visited us here in La Ciotat and got soaked! Erin, Brian, and daughter Miranda (joining us from Slovakia, where she's working with Cru (an international campus ministry), are avid hikers, used to the rugged outdoors, so we didn't let the pouring rain and this veritable temps de cochon hold us back from some local sightseeing.

We began our tour at the Parc du Mugel, but no sooner did we drive into the parking lot than the sky opened up and it began to pleut de cordes! That's when Jean-Marc suggested we take the Route des Crêtes and see the countryside via car. As our car lurched up the side of hill toward the famous cliffs overlooking Cassis, some of us kept our eyes off the snaking, two-lane road which did not have a safety wall. It helped to focus, instead, on all the calming wildflowers that carpeted the national park! The rosemary was blooming and its purple-blue tint drew our vision--and our feet--out over the gorgeous landscape. You can see how windy it was by the state of Miranda's blond locks, which took flight!

Mirandas hair
Miranda walking arm and arm with mom, Erin

Cliff near cassis france
Le Cap Canaille--the almost-highest sea cliff in France, above the Mediterranean along the Route des Crêtes--or "Road of the Ridges"--which joins La Ciotat and Cassis.

Bird of paradise in cassis
Erin took this photo after we arrived in the little port of Cassis. She loves bird of Paradise (l'oiseau de paradis), which, we decided, would go well in our garden here in La Ciotat. Qu'en pensez-vous?

Poissonnerie fishmonger in Cassis France blue shutters striped awning charm
Even in off-season it is sometimes tricky to find a parking spot, so Jean-Marc kindly dropped us off near the port and went searching for a place to se garer...
 
Friends and umbrellas parapluie
My friend Erin and our trusty parapluies. It was so windy that one of the umbrellas broke!

Cats and jasmine in cassis france
We noticed all the potted jasmine dotted throughout town, and lots of "window cats."

Brian and jean-marc at Restaurant la Table in Cassis
After checking out all the menus along the old port, we skipped back to Rue Severin--one of the little streets without a sea view, and found a delicious menu at an affordable price! Only 14 euros for both an entée (we had salade de chèvre chaud) and a delicious filet of fish. One waitress served all the tables and did a great job (even our basket of bread was crispy and hot from the oven!) (The place: Restaurant A Table, 7 Rue Severin Icard, Cassis)

Kristi and erin in Cassis

Jean-Marc introduced Brian, Erin, and Miranda to the world-famous white wines of Cassis, which our friends loved.

Erin jean-marc kristi in cassis
Thank you Miranda and Erin for these pictures. My friends are already headed back to North Dakota. They've escaped the deluge, here, but face a blizzard at home. Wish them luck, and Miranda, too, as she continues her work in Slovakia.

Erin and miranda on the beach in la ciotat
Something else about Erin: she created the interior for my books Blossoming in Provence and First French 'Essais'. She works with my friend Tamara and TLC Book Design

I will be uploading more pictures from our visits to La Ciotat and Sanary-sur-Mer... so check back this weekend for some more colorful scenes. Thank you all very much for reading and enjoy your weekend.

FRENCH VOCABULARY REVIEW
Quel temps de cochon! = what lousy weather!
il pleut des cordes! = it's pouring!
l'oiseau de paradis = bird of paradise
La Route des Crêtes = Route of the Ridges
qu'en pensez-vous? = what do you think?
se garer = to park
salade de chèvre chaud = salad with hot goat cheese
la parapluie = umbrella

Merde!: The Real French You Were Never Taught at School (Sexy Slang Series)

T-Shirt "I Don't Need Therapy I Just Need to Go to France."

Gourmet French Macaroons

Window in cassis france palms
A window with a lot of character, that never seems to change each time we visit.

Port of cassis france colorful buildings waterfront
Lighthouse or phare in Cassis France
Looking in the opposite direction...here is the phare, or lighthouse.

Old wooden fishing boats and le chateau de cassis hotel restaurant
Old wooden fishing boats, or "pointus", and the Château de Cassis (now a hotel-restaurant) high up on a sea cliff. 

Thank you for the time you've just 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! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Kristin, Your tips and experiences on French and life in France are the best resources I can think of to keep my French alive."
--Amy