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Entries from March 2015

The Serenity Prayer in French + La Prière de la Sérénité en anglais

Jean-Marc and cyclamen steps in Sicily
I first saw The Serenity Prayer at a friend's house. We were 13 years old at the time and had free rein (her parents were rarely home). Skipping through the hallway one day, a curling iron in one hand and candy bar in the other--the words in a picture frame stopped me in my tracks. I  hope they'll have the same effect on you.


AUDIO FILE: Listen to Jean-Marc read La Prière de Sérénité following prayer Download MP3 or Download Wav


La Prière de la Sérénité

Mon Dieu,
Donnez-moi la sérénité
D'accepter
Les choses que je ne puis changer,
Le courage
De changer les choses que je peux,
Et la sagesse
D'en connaître la différence.

The Serenity Prayer

God,
Grant me the serenity
To accept
The things I cannot change,
The courage
To change the things I can,
And the wisdom
To know the difference.


The French version of this prayer was taken from Wikipédia.

Cabanos in Marseilles
Thank you for sharing today's post with a friend, via the links below. I leave you with a peaceful image from Marseilles: little fishing huts and beach cabanos in the 9ème arrondissement, where my mother-in-law used to live.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. 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


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


Adieu, Monsieur Thé. Homage to Steven Smith

Teapots

From Portland to Bandol to Assam, India -- people all over the world are paying tribute to Steven Smith, who passed away on Monday. Hats off to you, Monsieur Thé

le thé (tay)

    : tea

AUDIO FILE: Listen to Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wav

Aujourd'hui nous rendons homage à notre ami, Steve Smith. Et nous levons notre tasse de thé en sa memoireToday we pay tribute to our friend Steve Smith. And we raise our cup of tea in his memory.

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

"Adieu Monsieur Thé"

News of Steven Smith's passing came as a complete shock. My husband and I were home, preparing for the last leg of our journée. At ten minutes till 4, I had to leave for an appointment in Aix-en-Provence.  Jean-Marc, seated on the edge of the bed, was putting on dry socks after getting soaked in the vineyard, where he spent the morning arguing with his tractor (its unweildy "fish-tail" had knocked out 5 precious vines).

Seated near my husband, at my desk, I was shutting down my computer after reading the last comments to yesterday's blog post when I saw Elizabeth's words:

Isn't Max coming to Portland this summer to work for Steven Smith Teamakers? Sad news reported in the Oregonian, Portland's paper, that SS died yesterday from liver cancer. I assume his thriving business will continue, but sad nevertheless- he reinvented tea in the U.S. with Stash, Tazo and now his namesake.

My first instinct was to strike out the words of the messenger, whose announcement had come as a blow. A lump formed in my throat as I reread les nouvelles to Jean-Marc. We logged on to Facebook and witnessed the flood of support. Our own tears, now pinching our eyes, fell, adding to the stream of sympathy.

Steve Smith and Kim DeMent

We met Steve and Kim in 2007 when they visited, along with 8-year-old Jack, our former vineyard in Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes.  Max, twelve at the time, hit it off with Jack, whose French was as good as a native's. As the boys chatted about computer games or tossed the ball to Breizh, we strolled among our fruit-bare vines after harvest time.

It was Kim who had put her husband onto Jean-Marc's wine journal, which was especially interesting to Steve, Kim noted, "because he loves wine, but also is in the tea business; which has many similarities."

I was in awe hearing about the man who had sold his tea company to Starbucks. And I remember being struck meeting the smiling personnage whose curiosity and kindness outshined even his good looks. Following close on his heels as he chatted with Jean-Marc among the vine rows, I hoped some of those supernatural tea leaves might fly out of his pocket and land on us like stardust!  But any super magic secret stardust Steve Smith might have wasn't something you had to wish for....

On that post-harvest autumn afternoon, as Kim and I lagged behind the vigneron and the teamaker, one of us fanning the air in favor of flying tealeaves, the other spoke out thoughtfully:   

"I know wine and tea aren't exactly the same things," Kim offered, but if there is anyway we can help you, please let us know. We have a little experience in marketing and packaging. :-)"

Mas-de-martin
Jean-Marc, Christian, me, Steve, Kim, and Neil.

Sometimes you receive the right offer at the wrong time.  Jean-Marc was busy kicking up his own dust in the vineyard. But years would pass, with their harvests and hailstones, and meantime our son would grow up... and begin to offer a new perspective to his father.

As Max helped more and more in the vines, while taking business and marketing classes, we received a reminder from Kim: remember we are here and happy to help!

And so, for his two-month marketing internship beginning in June, Max will be taken under Smith Teamaker's wing. The other brave and beautiful wing has flown now. But if you look to the horizon, above the ethereal mist, you will trace the spectacular golden-sepia shimmer to a trail of tealeaves falling from the sky.

SteveSmith
We send our love and support to Steve Smith's family and to all of his friends and fans.  

Read the New York Times obituary for Steve, click here.

COMMENTS
To leave a comment click here. Thanks for sharing today's edition with a tea lover.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. 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


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


"Dodo" and things that go bump in the night!

Smokey-anemones

Smokey, a  kid at heart, about to prance beside a carpet of anemones. Today's word is part of a very useful list of French baby talk. See it here (including a recording of each word).

dodo (doh-doh)

    :  beddy-bye, night-night

Paris Monaco Rentals

France and Monaco Rentals: short-term holiday rental properties throughout France. Click here for pictures.


AUDIO FILE:
 Listen to Jean-Marc: 
Download MP3 or Wav

Fais dodo, 'Colas mon petit frère...
Go to sleep (Nicholas), my little brother...

                                             -from a well-known comptine, or nursery rhyme

Improve your French pronunciation with Exercises in French phonetics. Click here. 


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

Dodo, from the French "dormir," brings back so many memories, including sleepless nights or les nuits blanches. How many times did we sing this golden oldie to our children:

Fais dodo, Colas mon p'tit frère Fais dodo, t'auras du lolo...

Now that the kids are grown, sleepless nights should be a thing of the past. But when the lights go off Chez Les Espi, our house is as lively as ever!

A grand slam of her upstairs door means our daughter is ruffled once again...

"Mais qu'est-ce qu'il y a!" Jean-Marc shouts.

"Eteins la lumière!!!" our daughter complains. Jackie can't stand it when we leave the hall light on. It filters in beneath her bedroom door, distracting her from sleep. Owing to our bathroom's location (down three sets of stairs and across two rooms), Jean-Marc and I flip on the light switch a few times each night as we make our way safely across the house.  Invariably one of us forgets to switch off the light during the two-minute aller-retour. On the way back to our room, we get a startling reminder when the door slams shut (it's Jackie, turning off the light herself).

By the time we crawl under the bedcovers, the tone is set for the night. And we work out our frustrations in dreamland... 

It must have been 4 a.m. when last night's debacle began. "Quit talking about plants!" I begged. "Enough going on about plants, plants, plants!"

Jean-Marc was mumbling something back, when he sat up and turned to me. "C'est toi! C'est toi qui parle des plants." You're the one talking about plants! And with that, I woke up to the amusing conversation we were having.

It was both funny and revealing... Lately, the scales are falling from my eyes and I am beginning to see clearly how the things I accuse my family of are sometimes my own doing (it wasn't Jean-Marc who misplaced my new pot-holder. It was I who left it under a stack of dishes! It wasn't Jackie who took my brush... I see I'm the one who left it in the car... And it wasn't one of our dogs who ate the rest of the yogurt cake....)

Yogurtcake

                                 (Don't miss the yogurt cake recipe, here.)

Breizh-on-porch 

Bon, back to today's headline: Things That Go Bump in the Night, or les monstres qui surgissaient dans la nuit. If it isn't loud doors it's loud snores and things outdoors that keep us awake....

Last night something poked at my ribcage. When it happened a second time I turned over and naturally stopped snoring (but before I fell back to sleep, I smiled, impressed about how Jean-Marc's new tactic had worked! Instead of saying "Chérie, tu ronfles!" (a phrase that was keeping me awake all night long!) he now gets the message across silently.

But once the whistle of my breathing stops, the eery sounds of the forest keep us awake. One in particular makes our blood curdle. ..

"On dirait quelqu'un en train d'être égorgé!" Sounds like someone is being strangled! Jackie says, trying to pinpoint the exact sound. This particular high-pitched cry is as chilling as any Hitchcock film. Come to think of it, maybe it's a bird cry? Or, in keeping in theme with today's word... a dodo bird?

I think on that a bit as I try to fall back to sleep, only this time it isn't sound keeping me awake, it's that nightly tug-o'-war! My husband is yanking the covers again! But he WON'T get them all this time, no! I've carefully tucked in the entire length of my side of the bed! And, for extra protection, I've tucked in my half of the end of the bed. There!

And just when we begin to nod off, our 19-year-old rolls in--back from the nightclub at 5 a.m. Now, if we could only get some sleep around here...

 

Cat-in-ciotat

A cat in La Ciotat. Can you see the "upside down dog," third shadow over?Don't miss all the photos I took this week. Follow me on Instagram . I'll be posting more pictures soon!

COMMENTS
To comment on this post, click here and many thanks for reading!

Comment box tip: it is not necessary to fill in all three boxes. Just your name (as you would like it to appear in public) and maybe your email address (remains private). The third box, "URL" is for your website or blog. Hint: You can leave this box blank or share your site--or a site you like. Ideas: add your Twitter or Facebook or Instagram link. Or use the box to promote a site you like (a charity or a good cause?). I look forward to clicking on your links!

Tess-workshop

My very dear friend Tess is opening her farmhouse for her Paint in Provence workshop. You will be picked up from the airport and fed homemade meals during this relaxing and inspiring getaway to France. Check out the dates and see photos here! And I will see you in May and June, when Tess drives workshop attendees to our vineyard, for a painting day in the olive orchard. 

Tarragon
 The first time I ever picked tarragon was at my friend Tess's farmhouse. She was making poulet à l'estragon and would I mind collecting a few branches from the garden? she asked, her wooden spoon pointing toward the potager. I couldn't tell an herb from a weed, then, but by some stroke of luck I returned to the kitchen with the correct aromatic branch. Stoked, I went on to plant the versatile herb in my own kitchen garden, enjoying it with chicken, in salad dressing and more. But by the end of winter it seemed clear the plant was dead (an annual, after all?). Only a few dried, leafless sticks remained. And then, sometime last week... I noticed the budding fuzzy green carpet, above!

Tarragon-chicken
Tessa's tarragon chicken, with cream, onions, peppercorns, and l'estragon.

Forward-this-post
Snail mail in the town of Pélissanne, north of Aix-en-Provence.

SHARE IT - LIKE IT
Thank you very much for reading this post. By sharing it with a student, teacher, family member or friend, via the social media buttons below, you help to get the word out about my French language journal. Merci encore!

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. 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


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


en l'occurrence - such a useful expression!

Papeterie-aixoise
Une bonne heure with my son in Aix-en-Provence = le bonheur. (See Max in the doorway?)

New

Beautifully renovated and decorated home in the Luberon. 4 bedrooms and a study with a sofa bed, each with ensuite (full) bath. This villa comfortably sleeps 7-9 adults.


EN L'OCCURRENCE
Strange to think I have never used this French expression. I hear the locution adverbiale so often, when my husband or my daughter or my belle-mère speaks. So why have I never tried it out? For the simple reason that so many of us students of French don't use certain expressions: 1) we are not exactly sure of what they mean and 2) we're too lazy to look them up! 

Lazy like this, we can make the mistake of assuming a word's meaning (I thought today's word meant "on the other hand"). Let's have a closer look, now, at an oft-heard expression and today's mot du jour:

en l'occurrence

    : in this case, in this instance, as it happens

Also:
occurrence = case
en pareille occurrence = in such circumstances

AUDIO FILE: listen to Jean-Marc talk about winefarming:
Download MP3 or Wav file

Lors de la plantation de vignes en 2014 au Mas des Brun, nous avons constaté 24 décès, ce qui en l’occurrence représente 0.6% de mortalité sur les 3 700 plants mis en terre.

Following our 2014 vine-planting project at Mas des Brun, we noted 24 deaths, which, in this case, represents 0.6% mortality among 3700 planted vines.


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

I'm going to spoil you with photos in today's edition--after the previous catastrophic post--a formating nightmare as you see here! Thank you for being so patient and, without further ado--or sans plus de cérémonie, here are some images from the past week:

Still-life-dining-table
A snapshot of our dining table, yesterday morning. Clockwise, beginning in the center, we have the beautiful Azalea plant, a gift from Gail and Fred--the couple who are letting Max stay in their home this summer. Next, the straw hat I wear most of the time, followed by Jean-Marc's electric pruning shears, or sécateurs éléctroniques.

And there, below center, are the cards I bought at the stationary store pictured higher up. The open book of Proverbs is a gift from Anne and Kirk, who visited recently. If you are looking for a beautiful apartment for rent in Aix, click on the link below!


Above the book is more daily bread, held in an old pelle à cendres. (Now that I think of it, that couldn't be an ashes pan--not in wood! But I am sure that is what Michel told us when he offered the gift years ago...)

  Fred-and-Gail
Fred and Gail (Max's hosts) the day they came for lunch. They loved Jean-Marc's rosé and were so encouraging and enthusiastic about our vineyard project. No matter how much hope and faith you have in a project, you also have your days. So it is always helpful to see your progress through another's eyes! (In this case professional eyes. Gail and Fred have been in the restaurant business for years, and they have stocked a lot of interesting wines in their cellars.) 

Byrrh

Where's Max? Also, Notice the old painted BYRRH sign in Aix-en-Provence. After I posted this photo on my Facebook, Audrey Wilson shared this update:

Byrrh is still produced in Thuir, a town near us in Roussillion. Its cave boosts the largest barrel in the world containing 1,000,200 litres of wine !!


Caroline-Mathilde

What melts your heart more: a weathered French bakery or a Franco-Australian baby?  I had the chance to meet-up with Caroline and baby Mathilde, on Tuesday.  It was a rare getaway for Caroline, who is busy tending vines and making wines at Domaine Rouge-Bleu, which she now owns with Thomas (They purchased this vineyard from us in 2012).

Did you know Caroline and Thomas opened up a B&B on their beautiful vineyard? My former writing office is now one of the rooms! Click here to see the rooms and to reserve your stay in this beautiful and well-located place.

Rue-des-poilus

The seaside town of La Ciotat. I think the street name reads: "Hairy People's Street."

(Voilà, the missing photo from the previous edition, which talks about the true meaning behind Les Poilus)

First-French-Essais-book-cover

I just received the latest newsletter from author Patricia Sands, in which she features so many colorful photos of a favorite village: Antibes! She also lists a ebook giveaway for my First French Essais book!

ENTER TO WIN
Please click here to read Patricia's newsletter and to enter to win a prize (two are listed!) You may also want to subscribe to Patricia Sand's updates on France, writing, and travel.

Petal-confetti

 What's more charming than blossoms on a tree? Petal confetti!

 

Max-at-deux-garcons

 Back to my son, pour un moment.  As a special treat, I took him for a milkshake at a well-heeled bistro along Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence. Quelle déception! What a disappointment when he took the first sip. French milkshakes sometimes miss the mark... (I will never forget the frango mint milkshake my Grandmother Annette treated me to, as we sat at the counter at Frederick & Nelson in Seattle. Anyone remember these?)

Back to our picture story... As we sipped our drinks my eyes travelled across the street, to where I had met Max's father 25 years ago.  I have to blink, now, to make sure the young Frenchman seated before me really exists. And when Max comes into focus, with the dapper coat and hat, I see his father, standing at the door to my studio, wearing his best suit. The year was 1990.

I remember him handing me a houseplant on that first date, as he stood so hopeful in the doorwell. And I remember thinking, sadly, I won't be around to water it next week! 

I had to leave France within days, but I could not shake the impression Jean-Marc had made on me. That magnet that had pulled me to France seemed to be nestled right there, inside the man holding the potted plant.

"Bonjour," he smiled, that mysterious force drawing me to him.

(And now, glancing at the snapshot taken above, I can see how all that alchemy worked together pour accomplir sa fin, or to acheive this goal.) 

StPatrick

 Well, we've come to the end of our photo périple. I hope you enjoyed these snapshots from Provence. This last one, a chalkboard sign taken in Pélissanne on St. Patrick's day, is all-inclusive don't you think? :-)

COMMENTS

Comments welcome here, and have a good rest of the week! 

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. 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


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


Poilu : a semi-truck, a hairy person, or a soldier?

Today's post is sponsored by Thomas Hulston Collections: exclusive French made clothing now available for purchase online

Bonjour !
Our telephone lines are down again, so I am moblogging--using my tiny smartphone keyboard to compose this blog post. You can imagine how fun that is... so this will be short and sweet :
Short, for today's 5 letter word, poilu, and sweet, for our favorite easy cake recipe. (Quick here's a link to the French yogurt cake. Many of you are familiar with the post, in which Smokey and I make the cake on video... http://french-word-a-day.typepad.com/motdujour/2012/08/yogurt-cake-recipe.html )
And as for today's historical word, les poilus, the French term of endearment was lost on me while ambling down Hairy People's Street, in La Ciotat.
Returning home, I shared the snapshot, below, on Facebook and received a few clarifications:
Bruce wrote:
Wasn't "poilu" a slang term for French soldiers during WWI?
Clifford wrote :
Bruce is correct, just as Napoleon's old soldiers were called grognards
Mary Taylor Keates noted:
Poilus... Because of their beards and mustaches--like the doughboy, which I think was an American term
Marilyn Griffith added:
That's funny (in reference to the caption I gave the photo: "The seaside town of La Ciotat. I think the street name reads "Hairy People's Street")
Joe Lillard responded:
That seems a little too literal!
Naomi Bloom wrote :
"Poilu" is also a semi truck, n'est-ce pas ?
***
Hope you enjoyed today's word. One can learn so much on Facebook...now to sort out the fact from fiction--all the while enjoying the lively commentary...
Flower Power sums up today's photo:
"Let your pit hair grow and eat fruit--sounds like a beautiful life to me! "
Hope your week is off to a good start. I'll be back with more photos soon :-)
Amicalement,
Kristi
COMMENTS
To comment, see the link at the end of this email, or go to the blog (www.french-word-a-day.com) and scroll down to the end of today's post to find the comments.
Provence Dreamin'? Maison des Pelerins, Sablet. A Vacation Rental Dream in the heart of the Côte du Rhone

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. 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


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


Fleurs des Champs & medicinal plants in our vineyard

Phacelia or purple tansy flowers and Mom (c) Kristin Espinasse

Purple tansy, or phacelia cetifolia, is an excellent insectary plant and heaven to the local pollinators (a veritable bee magnet!). While phacilia is known to attract les abeilles, my husband, alias Chief Grape, uses it to clean the soil of his vineyard (folding it into the soil, once the flowers have passed). The parcel, above, was planted with grapevines last year. See what the field looks like now, in the pictures just below. (That's  my Mom, upper right. She will be here in 6 weeks!)

une fleur des champs

    : wildflower, field flower

Nov2014Mas de Perdrix. A home in France that artists and writers love to rent.  Work on your creative project in this inspiring environment.



AUDIO FILE:
Listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence.
Download MP3 or Download Wav file

Dans un grain de sable voir un monde et dans chaque fleur des champs le Paradis, faire tenir l'infini dans la paume de la main et l'Éternité dans une heure.

To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour. William Blake

Improve your French pronunciation with Exercises in French phonetics. Click here. 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse
Mediterranean and medicinal plants in our vineyard

Come with me, now, on a stroll through our vineyard and let's identify some of the wildflowers growing here. I will add more, as the season unfolds--like the petals on this white and fuschia fleur, just below...

fumeterre or fumitory plant and flower
Jean-Marc, hunched over (see his foot) to reach a baby vine, at pruning time. 

FUMMETERRE / FUMITORY
"smoke of the earth"
 
I first noticed this flower in a field beside Cousin Sabine's house. Her father, André, explained that he planted it as a fire repellant. Only, now that I've typed those words, I'm beginning to doubt my memory--for how could a field of delicate flowers prevent the spread of flames?

But I do remember talking to another uncle, Jean-Claude (see both uncles, here), who tells me he collected these flowers as a kid, for the pocket change it brought him. The explanation:

L'infusion de fumeterre est un vieux remède des Provençaux pour soigner une mauvaise digestion. Fumeterre herbal tea is an old Provençale remedy to treat indigestion.

In the book Ces Précieuses Plantes de Méditerranée, it is noted that people here in Provence used to swear by its longevity properties: "qu'elle avait le secret de faire vivre à cent ans!" (that it had the secret to make--or keep you living--at the age of 100)

Fumeterre, from the papaveraceae family, grows in our vineyard here near Bandol. I've seen it jutting out of the rock walls, or réstanques, and lying low between the newly-planted vine rows. 

A google search of "fumitory + medicinal uses" brings up more info, including it's various names "earth smoke" and "beggary", and vast properties--everything from intestinal spasms to conjunctivitis.

Nerve-damage

 Too bad it can't help Smokey, who suffered nerve damage to his tongue some years ago... Good news is it doesn't keep him from smelling the roses and les fleurs des champs. 

Whiteflower

 Bon, that was a quick stroll today. We'll play this flower game again soon. For now, I've got to get Chief Grape his lunch before he changes hats again (taking off his field hat and putting on his accounting hat: it's tax time soon and our dear friend Rachel (marraine, or godmother to our daughter Jackie, is on her way over to help with the comptabilité). 

Have a lovely weekend and on se voit la semaine prochaine (see you next week)!

Amicalement,

Kristi

COMMENTS 
Meantime, if you can identify any of the other flowers in this edition, the comments box is here.


Smokey-wildflower
Smokey says, "Have a look at our sponsors, below." 

Ladybug

      A just-pruned, one-year-old mourvedre vine.

The various wildflowers and "weeds" growing in this vineyard attract so many helpful* insects, such as la coccinelle, or ladybug. Here she has landed on the cire, or wax that protects the newly-planted vines. This being last year's crop of new vines, the wax is breaking off and the red cire is now back to its natural color.

*A ladybug in a vineyard is a good sign that chemicals are not used to treat the vines. Also, ladybugs eat those insects that would normally damage the vine plants.

COMMENTS WELCOME: by adding notes to this page, we all learn more about French language and culture (in this case: plant culture :-) Click here to comment or to add a correction.

  Olive-tree-and-vines
A centuries-old olive tree is still producing. Beyond, in the nearest vine field, Jean-Marc planted those phacelia flowers. The flower field is gone now, but a few purple tansies return each year...

Returning-tansy
Another bright reminder of this new-born vineyard's agricultural history.

SHARE IT - LIKE IT
Thank you very much for reading this post. By sharing it with a student, teacher, family member or friend, via the share buttons below, you help to get the word out about my French language journal. I really appreciate your word-of-mouth, or bouche-à-l'oreille referrals.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. 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


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


arrosage: hand-watering the vineyard, this week's visitors and Paint in Provence!

Almond-blossoms-landscape

Yesterday morning. Do you remember the lively scene, last June, when we picked the almonds from this tree? Click here for those pictures and the story: "A food that guarantees happiness, luck, health, and offspring."

arrosage (ah-roh-zazh)

    : watering, spraying

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Arrosage. Ici, à Mas des Brun, on préfère l'arrosage à la main.
Watering. Here, at Mas des Brun, we prefer to water by hand.

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

Several pictures for you today, and an update on the last four or five days...

Jm-waters

While Jean-Marc continued to water his new mourvedre, cinsault and ugni blanc vines last week, we had some memorable visits with friends.

Guillermo-Beth-JM

On Thursday, Beth and Guillermo came for lunch. Beth is one of my very first blog sponsors.  Was it around 2004 when she began advertising her lavender and lavender tours in Provence? Beth  is currently living in Marseilles, where she got those mouth-watering Arabic pastries.

Arabic-pastries

We ate them when she and Guillermo returned from the cellar visit with Jean-Marc. See him again, two photos up, using his earth-stained hands to talk about his favorite subject: le vin

Watering-near-restanque

Jean-Marc had to excuse himself from the lunch table, to return to his just-planted vines near the restanque or stone terrace wall. With a morning and evening arrosage à la main, he is able to water 1200 vines per day. 

Kristi-Guillermo-Beth

 After picking a bagfull of kale in the potager (to send home with my guests), Guillermo (kale-chip lover), Beth and I walked down to the new parcel (right) just beside the one we planted last year (see it, left? With the tall stakes). Beth asked if she could return again, to paint among the vines and olive trees. This brings me to my next guest, Tess! Let's meet her next, after our sponsor's message...

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Tessa-painting
I know Tess from the time Jean-Marc and I lived in Les Arcs-sur-Argens. If you've read this blog a while, you've already met Tessa here, in the ancient village of Séguret, and in many other stories.

Tess is an artist and chef, so when she came on Friday we enjoyed cooking together, long walks with the dogs, and painting the blossoming almond tree you saw at the top of this letter.

When Tess told me about her upcoming Paint in Provence classes, I thought of a few readers who have contacted me, inquiring about an all-inclusive trip.

I cannot recommend Tess enough! What a treat to spend a week with her at her farmhouse in Lorgues! And to eat homemade food from her French kitchen! 

You must check out Tess's Paint in Provence website. I'm linking, now, to the activities page, where you will see a day-trip to our vineyard - where you will be painting in between the very vineyards that Jean-Marc is tending, now.

 If you  have been looking for a very personal and unique trip to Provence, where you will be taking care of from the moment you step off the airplane to the moment you are driven back to the airport, then please contact Tess today. She has four openings total for this very special artist vacation. 

Click here to check out Tessa's Paint in Provence, and see you on May 21st!

Umbrella-shade

                                             Parapluies and kumquats.

And Sunday we had the chance to meet Gail and Fred! (I don't have a picture for you yet, but here's a snapshot of the table waiting to be dressed for lunch. There is so much sun out that we needed a covering for shade... The parapluies, or umbrellas, were a whimisical solution!)

Gail is the lady who wrote in, following my "Help Max find a room in Portland!" post. Apparently she was not put off by the post's title "Logis, nourri, blanchi" (or housed, fed, and washed!) and she went ahead and reached out to us, offering to let Max stay in her apartment. Hmm. Did she tell husband Fred?...

"It's serendipidous!" Fred said, when he arrived at our home for lunch. It turns out that Fred's son is a friend of ours! Mark and his wife Debbie were unaware of Max's séjour in Portland, until Gail mentioned, "I have a French boy coming to stay at our home." A few details later and the coincidence was discovered.

Always good to sign off on a serendipidous note. It leaves the rest of the day open to so much possibility. Enjoy your Monday and see you next time!

Amicalement,

Kristi 

Waterings

And watering... and watering... and watering! Bon courage, Chief Grape! More pictures at my Instagram, including a mother-daughter moment with Jackie!

SHARE IT - LIKE IT
Thank you very much for reading this post. By sharing it with a student, teacher, family member or friend, via the share buttons below, you help to get the word out about my French language journal. I really appreciate your word-of-mouth, or bouche-à-l'oreille referrals.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
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Tirer sa reverence & Jean-Marc's quiet tribute

Jean-Marc watering his young vines at Mas des Brun (c) Kristin Espinasse
Jean-Marc, watering 5,600 baby vines by hand. When I posted this picture on my Facebook, Jeanne Asakura wrote: Such a peaceful scene. There's a reverence about it as well.

Jeanne, your words couldn't be more true. Read on in today's story...


Tirer sa révérence

    : to go, to pass away

   New

Beautifully renovated and decorated home in the Luberon. 4 bedrooms and a study with a sofa bed, each with ensuite (full) bath. This villa comfortably sleeps 7-9 adults.

AUDIO FILE: (please check back later, all the Francophones in the house are occupied and unable to record at the moment!) Meantime, improve your French pronunciation with Exercises in French phonetics. Click here.



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

On Monday, during a pause from planting his baby vines, Jean-Marc looked over at me and said: Aujourd'hui ça fait 30 ans que mon père est décédé. (Today marks the 30th anniversary of my father's death.)

My mind rushed back in time, to a 17-year-old boy who grew up overnight, to become tuteur, or legal guardian, of his small family....

Euphorbia-in-vines
       Tuteurs holding up our one-year-old vines

Searching for comforting words, I took my husband in my arms, but it was he who volunteered the next thought.... 

Jean-Marc watering the new vines (c) Kristin Espinasse


Je suis content de planter aujourd'hui. I am happy to be planting this vineyard today.

***

Post note: nowadays giant tractors exist for the task of drilling, planting, and even watering baby vines via a three-in-one process. Wheras the planting machines pour 5 liters of water per plant, Jean-Marc is giving each baby 2 liters. Yesterday, he managed to water 600 vines.  Today several hundred more--always with the same serene look on his face, and such a change from his usual hectic pace.


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Restanque-in-vineyard
This hillside vineyard has many restanques, or stone walls. Some of them are crumbling, now, owing to vegetation or heavy rains. On the ground, you see the little red wax tops of our newly-planted mourvedre, cinsault, and ugni blanc vines. The baby vines are no bigger than the stem of a wine glass, and in three years they'll fill one!

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Photo notes: in one of the pictures above, you can hardly see the one-year-old vines among the "weeds." Did you know that one way to tell whether a vineyard is using chemicals or not is the absense of weeds? Jean-Marc regularly weeds by hand, leaving many of the mauvaises herbes in place. They protect the soil and keep insect life going.

Capture plein écran 28022011 085453If you are new to this word journal, you might enjoy this book about our life in France. It also makes a thoughtful gift! Click here to order.

Planters-hands

A planter's hands. Look at that tan!

SABLET HOME for high quality vacation rentals in the heart of Provence. Particularly suited to groups of up to four discerning travelers.

SOUTH OF FRANCE RENTALS: An elegant Aix apartment or a seaside village home – make France your home for a week!  

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
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--Candy T., California


Planter des Vignes + photos of our growing vineyard!

Line-of-baby-vines-2

Baby vines are capped in red wax. The leaves will soon burst through.

Bonjour! Mostly pictures for you today--an exciting phase 2 in the story of our Bandol vineyard, "Mas des Brun." Enjoy and thank you for reading. (To see the videos, visit my instagram page.)

planter les vignes

    : to plant vines

AUDIO FILE: listen to Jackie read the example sentence:
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Planter les vignes. Mon papa et mon frère plantent les vignes.
To plant vines. My dad and my brother plant vines. 

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

Last night 5000 baby vines were delivered to our home. Jean-Marc helped pile them onto the tractor-wagon before backing the tractor into our open garage.

"Do you think we should try to hide them?" I asked, having recently heard about local thieves. They will steal anything! a neighbor recently complained. Pots of paint, dirty gloves, broken tools!

Suddenly our stash of mourvedre looked like a tempting heist! Jean-Marc assured me not to worry, but I had to smile when he got up in the wee hours of the night to babysit his new vines. I got up earlier too, and after two cups of coffee felt as wired as a motherboard. 

Planting-day

I couldn't wait to see all the action in the field. There, in  the old oliveraie, Jean-Marc was about to plant his second parcel of vines. He had carefully planned it out, going as far as to uproot century-old olive trees (a difficult decision; the trees have been replanted elsewhere).

Bringing-out-the-vines

Our son Max, who is working more and more on the vineyard, had an exam and couldn't come until after lunch. So he sent his friend Antoine to help. 

Antoine-walking

Antoine

Jean-marc-on-phone

Jean-Marc received non-stop telephone calls, making it difficult to concentrate on his task!

  Calculating-row

 "Au pif"--or measuring the rows "by guesswork". We were so lucky to have this professional and in demand team. The man in the middle is the boss, and his specialty is planting vines in tricky spaces--this century old olive grove is a special, very very special place to plant! Il faut respecter les arbres!

Talking-with-planteur

Line-of-baby-vines

 Baby vines lines up and ready to go into the ground (you can barely see them on top of the earth. First, a hole is "drilled" with the paou (Provençale word for the "T" tool you see the man in blue holding).

  Drilling

The precise tool for planting grapevines.

Vines in bag

 Those sacks of precious vines.

  Lunch-basket

 It is always a pleasure to see French traditions like this: the little wicker picnic baskets that the three men brought with them for their lunch.

The-planting-team
Part of the planting team, flanked by Jean-Marc and me. These three men were so serious and quiet during the planting... and then suddenly chatty when the work was done. And what an honor when they said, on leaving, "à l'année prochaine!" (see you next year). We will need them more than ever, during phase 3... when our vines will travel up the side of the hill. 

See a video, here, of the entire equipe, or team, taken just moment ago before sunset. A toast to their hard work!

RELATED STORIES:

  • La Mère Porteuse: When Jean-Marc got his first vines and babied them like a surrogate mother.
  • Veuve de la vendange: find out what it is like to be married to a passionate winemaker, in the story "Crush Widow".

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 COMMENTS WELCOME and thanks again for reading.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. 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


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California