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Entries from October 2015

Pesto in Bed. A delicious--and alluring--recipe!

Making-parsley-pesto
Recipe for Pesto in Bed at the end of this post.


TODAY'S WORD: Le Pistou

    : pesto 

ECOUTER/LISTEN - hear Jean-Marc pronounce these French words:

Pistou

Le pistou. La sauce au pistou ou tout simplement pistou est une sauce, équivalent provençal du pesto ligure, à base de basilic pilé, d'ail et d'huile d'olive. Pesto. Pesto sauce or simply pesto is a sauce, the Provencale equivalent of ligurian pesto, with a base of crushed basil, garlic and olive oil. - example sentence from French Wikipedia

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristin Espinasse

L'Art de déléguer

Tottering atop a wooden stump just beneath a giant olive tree, I paused to look down at my husband.  If it weren't for him I'd have walked right past these ripe olives, the harvesting of which was a big complication in my mind. The trees are massive, their branches, out of reach, and what tools were we to use? Then what? 

But when Jean-Marc delegated the project to our son, 20-year-old Max, it only took two days for him and his friends to bring in 200 kilos of fruit! The harvest over, I was surprised to find my husband in the kitchen, days later, emptying his pants pockets of more olives.  It seems he found more fruit on the trees and this time he would make cocktail olives to go with his rosé wine! 

Olive-2015

This second harvest might never have occurred to me - or to Jean-Marc, had he not walked passed the tree, seen the fruit, and been tempted to pocket what he could! (And forget pockets! I'd have operated with antiseptic buckets and brand-new gloves! But in the time it would take me to prepare my harvesting equipment and google the "how to" of it all, Jean-Marc had managed to fill a three-gallon bowl with olives and he was already on his way to brining them! All this he did with one arm!

Inspired by his example, and curious to learn how to process olives, I found myself shoving handfulls of olives into my own pocket - pants', shirts', and jacket pockets as I helped Jean-Marc bring in more fruit over the next few days. What with my husband's "no nonsense" approach -- and my blossoming interest in agriculture (specifically "permaculture"), the two of us were gradually growing into a complimentary duo!  My heart began to swell as I looked down at my fellow picker and thought about the long and winding road that had brought us this far, to our second farm in France.

"We are a good team!"  I said to my husband when suddenly the handful of olives I'd been grasping tumbled from my palm down through my shirt, and came out the other end to bounce off my husband's shoulder provoking quite a grin on his face! Opportunist that he is, Jean-Marc reached up with his free hand (his other still in a sling) and tickled my belly.

Tugging down my shirt, and all but tumbling off the wooden stump in the process, I tried to refocus my man's attention. "I said we are a good team you and me!"

"Oui, toi et moi," Jean-Marc grinned from the ground below.

"Did you hear what I said?"

"I can see your bidou!" came the hopeless reply.

One week out of the hospital and Mr Frisky is alive and well. And that is a good thing because now that we are done with the olives we can move on to the herbs!

"How would you like to help me collect some parsley? It will soon go to flower but if we get it now I can make pesto!" (What good was learning from your husband if you couldn't now practice the art of delegation?)

Jean-Marc followed me up to the raised beds (not the kind he was hoping for!) and watched as I pointed to all the exciting parsley. At least I was excited, that is until my fellow picker made a suggestion:

Pointing to all the parsley that had grown along the gravel path, like weeds, he said: "Why not start with these?"

OH! It was just like my husband to be practical! But the vegetable garden is my domain and I will call the shots. "We'll leave those for now.  I want to start in the bed... " 

So much for taking the initiative! Now we were right back where we started - with one of us grinning and the other flustering. 

In the end, we managed to pick enough parsley to make a tasty batch of pistou de persil. And I'm calling this one "Pesto on the Rocks"! The next batch, if Jean-Marc has any luck, will be called Pesto in Bed.



Pink-flamingo-wicker-flamingo
The garden beds behind the house. Photo taken in summer 2014.


KRISTI'S PESTO IN BED...

(for Pesto on the Rocks, follow same recipe... with added modesty. Recipe adapted from this video)

    Two bunches of parsley (about 3 packed cups)
    3 or 4 cloves of garlic
    500 ml of olive oil
    2 squeezed lemons (add some of the peel, if you like)
    250 grams of parmesan cheese
    80 grams of roasted pine nuts 
    1 tablespoon honey
    salt and pepper to taste


Put all ingredients into a blender and whirl until smooth.  Or use one of these wonderful immersion blenders.

IDEAS:
Use this delicious parsley pesto on French bread - or with chicken, fish, in soup, on hard-boiled eggs.... or as a secret ingredient to this Traditional French Olive cake!

Immersion blender



Click here to order an immersion blender or to check out other handy kitchen tools.


Jm-taking-photo
Jean-Marc took the pictures in this post. He is doing well, after his bike accident which left him with a broken elbow. Can you see him behind me in the mirror? Don't miss a photo. Join me here at Instagram and be sure to hit the "follow" button.

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


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


French Toilet Paper and other disasters

Pumpkins
I wanted everything to be perfect when Tess and the artists arrived. But when I went to check my appearance in the mirror, after greeting my guests, there was pink toilet paper stuck to my eyelashes!! Read on.


TODAY'S WORD:
le papier toilette

    : toilet paper

ECOUTEZ/LISTEN - hear Jean-Marc pronounce today's word: click here or here:

Papier-toilette

 

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

I am feeling pulled in every direction on this, a beautiful sunny October day! I want to be in the garden, where the saffron is blooming. I want to sort out lunch for our olive harvesters (a modest team of three), and I really need to vacuum this house and wash the dirty windows! And bible study! Oh my! I completely forgot about our weekly Skype bible study with Tami and Erin! I'll never be ready! 

Forget about writing stories. There is no more time for that.... not if I must write perfectly and dust! So I will leave the housework, audit tonight's bible study, and take this chance to write an imperfect story with an imperfect name  ("Toilet Paper").

*    *    *

"Le Papier Toilette"

One thing I began to notice, after moving to France, was all the pink toilet paper! The supermarket shelves were full of it as were all of the French bathrooms--at a friend's house,  in a local restaurant, at the rest stops along the autoroute.  In spite of being the biggest Francophile in the world, one who put every quirk of French life up on a pedestal, I could not relate to the French penchant for le papier rose. And as soon as I learned that le papier blanc did exist, I begged my husband to buy it instead. Like this, our house has been free of pink toilet paper for twenty years now.

But last week my daughter did the shopping, returning with a toilet paper value pack. 24 extra big rolls OF PINK TOILET PAPER. "They didn't have anything else," Jackie explained. So touched that she had noticed this quirk of her mother's, I all but embraced the purchase.  But Jackie's brother downright hugged it!

"I'll take it! I'll take it!" Max--my son and starving student--volunteered. "I don't care about the color--ça coute la peau des fesses! Toilet paper costs an arm and a leg in Aix-en-Provence!"  So the toilet paper problem was settled. It would return to school with a very grateful bachelor.

Then, yesterday, Tess came over with a lovely group of watercolorists, including one of my readers, Valerie, and three of Valerie's longtime friends from Washington State: Meredith, Marsha, and Trilby. I didn't make it to the store in time to switch the pink rolls, and so resolved that if anyone would be okay with pink toilet paper it would be these artists - to whom color is a vital medium (indeed many artists, like my feisty Mother, abhor white! But I am getting off topic...)

As Tess pulled up to the house and I saw all the new faces inside the car, I did my best to appear at ease, even whispering to Tess, as her group exited the vehicle, just how relaxed I felt this time. But my body was showing other signs and, as I spoke my eyes and my nose and my skin began to water

Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out a tissue. Having no Kleenex in the house--and certain this friendly-looking group of women would take no offense--I proceeded to dry my eyes and nose and brow with the wad of pink toilet paper. "So lovely to see you all, " I sniffed. "What a warm group!" Meantime my body poured out it's anxiety, drop by drop.

Once the ladies were settled before their paint trays, I hurried up to the house to check my mascara. Given how my eyes had watered, I was sure to find black streaks running down my cheeks. But I couldn't have imagined the real disaster when I looked into the mirror.

My eyes were plastered with toilet paper! There it was--my old pink foe--stuck to my eyelashes and paper machéed to the crow's feet just beyond! Even more alarming was the realization that I had been posing with the group for photos with little clumps of pink TP glued to my eyes like far-out false lashes!

Using a cotton swap to clean up the mess, I rehearsed what I could say to my guests. But I never got the chance to explain. By the time I walked back out into the sunshine, to rejoin the warm circle of artists, I had completely forgotten about it!

And from this day forth, I shall stock my bathroom with rolls and rolls of pink papier toilette--and so honor the day that yet one more anxiety up and rolled away.

*    *    *

Tessa's PAINT IN PROVENCE- If you would love to learn to paint in Provence, or to further your skill, then you will adore staying at Tessa's farmhouse. Details here.

  

  Oliveharvest.jpg

With our three cherished olive pickers - Evan, Max and Edward. I took the painters down to see the harvest underway. You can't see it, but I still had pink toilet paper stuck to my eyes here. And at least one person seems to notice!

Plumbago

 

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


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


Broken bones and Broken French

Lemons-and-guava
It was this... or a picture of a broken elbow. Read on in today's story column. And for more pictures of our garden, and these citrons and these guavas, join me on Instagram!

TODAY'S WORD:
le nid de poule

    : a pothole, or pit in the road's surface

Un nid de poule literally means "hen's nest"


Nov2014WHERE TO RENT IN FRANCE? Special thanks to our longtime sponsors--Marilyn, David, and Marianne--who have been a great support to my newsletter! See their French homes, below:

  1. Mas de Perdrix. A home in France that artists and writers love to rent.  Work on your creative project in this inspiring environment.
  2. France and Monaco Rentals: short-term holiday rental properties throughout France.
  3. Sablet home for high quality vacation rentals in the heart of Provence. 

 


ECOUTEZ/LISTEN
Hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French words in his sentence: 

Nid-de-poule


Nid de poule. La semaine dernière, alors que je faisais du vélo à Marseille,  j'ai roulé sur un nid de poule, ce qui a provoqué ma chute et la fracture de mon coude
Pothole. Last week, while riding my bike in Marseilles, I rode over a pothole, provoking a fall and an elbow fracture.


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


Yesterday I watched as a medical taxi delivered my husband home from the hospital, where he'd landed 5 days before. I stood there, perched in the driveway, feeling as though a hundred hummingbirds were holding me upright.

Posed to fly into action, my heart took on a hummingbird's beat. True, I had been doubtful about readiness and how this would all pan out--the next 6 weeks of nursing my husband, "Chief Grape."  (We don't call him the chief for nothing! Jean-Marc is a force around this vineyard, sweeping through activities from dusk until dawn. But after falling off his bike and breaking his elbow, how will he make it through the next weeks? And will I have the patience--the unlimited energy--to be his doting nurse Kristi? Will I listen sweetly to orders? Cut up his steak? Zip up his pants after a potty break?)  

Such flippant thoughts--along with a host of fears and assumptions--coursed through my mind as I watched my husband painstakingly exit the taxi.  I felt guilty not to have chauffeured him myself, but having just gotten over the flu it wasn't possible. Gripped by a fleet of hummingbirds, I stood posed like a board ready to spring to action for my new nursing duties. And then the strangest thing happened.

I watched my husband collect his bag with his free hand and walk peacefully into the house where he quietly and efficiently carried out a host of tasks before retiring gently to bed--without so much as asking for a glass of water (or the feared bedpan that I might have to empty, nightly!). 

Reaching for my nightstand to turn out the lights last night, I heard Jean-Marc's rhythmic breathing beside me. Rocked by the familiar and comforting sound, my mind played pictures of my husband's homecoming: I saw him scribbling sloppy To-Do notes, with his left hand, and awkwardly spooning chicken soup into his mouth (much of it ending in his lap). I saw myself helping him carry in the wood, and remembered how he did not ask for help building the fire--nor to unpack his bag or to rifle through the household pharmacy for the supplies the real nurse will need this week, when she comes to our house to changes our patient's wound dressings.

Lying there in the dark, I watched as my mind reviewed all it had seen, when, suddenly, my heart skipped a hummingbird beat at the thought of an injured man's dignity.

Real-men-drive-tractors


COMMENTS
To leave a comment, click here


  Smokey-nurse

Is Smokey trying to get out of nursing duties too? Or is he just playing hide-n-seek?

Silly-smokey
No, Smokey is just being silly, as always, comme d'habitude. Please share this post with a friend, via one of the share buttons just below. Mille mercis!


Click here to be on your way to fluency in French
To effectively improve your French, check out David Tolman's French lesson:

2-minute French lesson : French E's with examples from an interview with a French beekeeper

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


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


To Get One's Money's Worth, in French + Downton Abbey

Nick-picture-of-k-reading

Join us for tomorrow's (October 14th) winetasting at 3pm. Or meet us October 19th.We would love to see you here, near Bandol! Email your confirmation to jm.espinasse@gmail.com (Thanks, Nick and Jill Cook, for this photo!)


TODAY'S EXPRESSION
"To get one's money's worth"

    : en avoir pour son argent

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

 

 

ECOUTEZ/LISTEN
Hear Jean-Marc pronounce these French words
Download MP3 or Download Wav file

En avoir pour son argent, c'est tirer le maximum de bonnes choses du trésor de la vie. 
Getting your money's worth means getting more of the good things out of life.
           Example sentence found at rbc.com via linguee.fr

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

"Posh Talk"

Have you ever heard the voice of your mind? Does it have an accent? Canadian? Australian? Texan? Lately, my mind's voice has swayed from standard American to British English --this after watching two seasons of Downton Abbey in one week! 

But is that sensible, my dear? (Oh! There it goes again! Not only has my mind adopted an aristocratic accent, but it has picked up certain phrasing as well! Just ask my dog, Smokey, who reads my thoughts. But can he hear them sounding like The Queen's English?  And is he confused or, worse, does he think I'm putting on airs?

All this Downton Abbey episode-binging (and posh-talking) began when Netflix charged my credit card two months ago and I realized I had not watched one movie. Another film-less month passed followed by a punctual charge!

"Why don't be defeatist, dear! It's very middle class!" (Yikes -- did you hear that one? That wasn't me talking at all! It was Violet Crawley-dowager Countess of Grantham! And just what would she think of a once-disciplined blogger...turned binge-watching accent-hopping Downton Abbey groupie?

Well, my darling, at least you are getting you are getting your money's worth now! (Hmm. I don't know if she would actually say that - but as you know it's today's phrase du jour and I've got to wrap up this post now so that I may race back to my telly and begin Season 3!)

P.S. I do feel guilty about being glued to the screen instead of writing stories of my own but, once again, as one of the Downton characters would say:

A change is as good as a rest.
Un changement équivaut à un repos

 (Meantime I am dying to know who is your favorite and least favorite Downton Abbey character?...)

COMMENTS

To leave a comment, click here

 

An-unlikely-vineyard

I wanted to highlight  Dierdre Heekin's book "An Unlikely Vineyard" once more, as it is a real treasure and as my husband, a winemaker who is too busy to read, has been taking the time to read it because he's enjoying it so much! J'aime l'atmosphère et son écriture, he says of the Dierdre's story. And Jean-Marc loves all the wonderful photos. The book was given to us by, Nina and Charlie in New Hampshire, and as soon as Jean-Marc  puts it down I will take it back up for my garden studies!

A review:
"An Unlikely Vineyard is a rare blend of scholarship, storytelling, and poetry. Deirdre Heekin’s enthralling tale of sinking roots into her land will inspire and enable anyone who ever dreamed of growing food, making wine, or bringing beauty out of the soil around them. This meditation on the cultivation of place is an elegant rallying cry in a world that too often settles for placelessness."--Rowan Jacobsen, author, American Terroir : Savoring the Flavors of our Woods, Waters, and Fields 


To order, click here: An Unlikely Vineyard

Fava-planting-october

This morning I planted more fava beans in the garden. We are lucky to live in a mild climate where favas can be sowed twice a year. You can order heirloom seeds and garden supplies at Amazon. Any purchase will support this newsletter. Merci beaucoup!

Blueberry-plants

I ordered all these plants via post and they made it here beautifully! There are 6 blueberry plants, 1 sea-buckthorn shrub, and 3 goumi bushes.

Jm-at-cove

Saturday we walked along the coastline and enjoyed the bright bunches of wildflowers, the natural waterfall, and this beautiful cove where people were swimming and picniquing. After, while having a sieste in the shade, I looked up and smiled when I saw this glimpse of my husband, Chief Grape. See him in this video on French TV.

Sablet home for high quality vacation rentals in the heart of Provence.

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


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


A rare tornado in France over the weekend!

Tornade-st-cyr
A tornado on the outskirts of our village!  (filmed by firefighter John Liqr (c) photo copyright /Facebook)

TODAY'S WORD: une trombe

    : whirlwind, waterspout, torrent

démarrer en trombe = to hurtle off, leave in a whirlwind
en trombe = at full throttle
des trombes d'eau = a downpour


Nov2014WHERE TO RENT IN FRANCE? Special thanks to our longtime sponsors--Marilyn, David, and Marianne--who have been a great support to my newsletter! See their French homes, below:

  1. Mas de Perdrix. A home in France that artists and writers love to rent.  Work on your creative project in this inspiring environment.
  2. France and Monaco Rentals: short-term holiday rental properties throughout France.
  3. Sablet home for high quality vacation rentals in the heart of Provence. 

 

ECOUTER/LISTEN
Hear Jean-Marc pronounce these French words: 
Download MP3 or Wav

C'est une trombe marine qui a dégénéré en tornade
It is a waterspout that degenerated into a tornado.

 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristin Espinasse

Chatting on the phone Saturday with my dad and my belle-mère, I was confused when Dad asked about the weather, "I hear you are having some bad storms?" he said.

I looked out the window and quickly reported back that, no, it was only lightly raining outside, or, as Jean-Marc would say sarcastically during last summer's canicule and the brief respites,  hardly enough to wet the vineyard stones or mouillés les cailloux...

Speaking of wet... Mon Dieu! the scene outside the living room window had suddenly changed--and now things were pouring down rain! I handed the phone to Jean-Marc, so he could say a quick word to my belle-mère, Marsha, but he had barely said bonjour when the telephone line went dead. By now I was in the kitchen, watching my patates douces roast when the oven shut off--along with every light in the house!

The sky thundered once more, sending me scurrying towards The Comfort Zone (my bed!). But the old windows in the bedroom shook so much that I feared they might burst. 

The thought of windows reminded me of windshields, and the fact that Jackie should be home by now. She had only this week passed her driver's test... and now she might be navigating through this horrible storm.  Maybe Jean-Marc had heard from our daughter? I needed to go and find out.

Leaving my room, I felt a bizarre sensation behind me--something like a swirl lightly caressing my back as I walked out. I quickly turned, but all I saw was the window, which was still closed. Etrange....

No sooner did I find Jean-Marc, but Jackie arrived. "J'avais la peur de ma vie!" I have never been so scared, she said, recounting her ride home from the mall. "I could not see a thing. I was driving through a cloud. And then the car skidded!"

Jackie described how she had lost control of the small vehicle when it hit a flaque d'eau, or puddle, on the freeway. She held on tight to the steering wheel, trying to steady the car, having just passed a semi-truck which had slowed during the storm.

After listening to Jackie's story, we read this French news article and learned that it was a tornado that spun along the coast, right near our home to which Jackie was returning.

***

The next day I received an unexpected visit from my neighbor, Annie, who, weighed down with sacks of persimmons and pomegranates, walked slowly up our driveway as the sun shone down. What a calming scene after last night's flurry!

I thanked Annie for the fresh fruit and listened as she talked about the rare tornado in France. "There was one other..." she said. "I think it was in the 70s... It cut the cypress trees in half and carried off a part of the Chateau roof!" Annie said, of the historic building up the road from our house.

"I know it sounds odd," I said to Annie, "given we were miles away from the whirlwind...but I was walking out of my bedroom around the time Jackie was delivered safely home when I felt a light flurry at my back. But when I turned nothing was there."

Looking at me thoughtfully, Annie dispelled the mystery, "C'était la queue de la tornade." It was the tail of the tornado.

 

COMMENTS
To leave a comment click here, or see the link near the share buttons at end of this letter.

  Annies-persimmons

Annie's delicious persimmons!  

  An-unlikely-vineyard

It is rare that my husband and I co-read together, but Dierdre Heekin's book "An Unlikely Vineyard" is a treasure. "You are going to love it!" Jean-Marc said when he read the intro. Thank you, Nina and Charlie in New Hampshire, for this educational gift which I will use to further my permaculture garden studies!

When you order An Unlikely Vineyard, or any item at Amazon, via the previous link, your purchase supports this French journal. Merci beaucoup.

RECIPES - La Tarte Tomate
There are several classic French recipes on this blog, like this one--which is perfect for those end-of-summer tomatoes. Make the classic French Tarte Tomate. Click here

And how could I forget Annie's recipe! (Not for vegetarians...)

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


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline


Betise: Our naughty visitors

Winetasting-inside

Join us for tomorrow's wine tasting here near Bandol. If it's raining, we will sit around our kitchen table, warmed by the fire. Reserve your cozy seat at jm.espinasse@gmail.com

TODAY'S WORD: une betise

    : a silly, foolish thing

dire des bêtises = to talk nonsense
faire une bêtise = to make a silly mistake

ECOUTEZ/LISTEN
Hear Jean-Marc pronounce these French words
Download MP3 or Wav

Arrêtez de faire des bêtises et mettez-vous au travail!
Quit being silly and get to work! 

    Discover Exercises in French Phonics, here


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

by Kristin Espinasse

When artist Tessa Baker came to visit yesterday, I picked up two useful words for my story writing: obstinate and soporific (one described her students, the other, a sort of atmosphere). Though familiar, these terms were not a part of my everyday vernacular--voilà-another term learned from my readers since beginning this blog 13 years ago which is about as long as I've known Tess, who was busy, yesterday, rounding up her artistic lambs after they arrived at our vineyard for a watercolor lesson. Let's enter that scene now....

The-rebel
      The Little Rebel, Linda, and Tessa, in pink

OBSTINATE
"No! You are not allowed over there to paint the sea view. We are studying olive trees today! Ancient olive trees!" Tess said, reminding the brush-wielding flock of their mission. I watched, amused, as one of the little lambs--my Mom's age and every bit the rebel--staked her ground on the front porch, and boldly faced La Grande Bleue.

Petanque-painting

Michelle, Ruth, Tess, and Susan. (Ruth hails from Saskatchewan, and Michelle and Susan live in Colorado).

Meantime, I trekked down to the pétanque court, where the other three lambs were scattering--but not for long! Tess appeared in time to guide them:

 "Now sit still. Look at the tips of those branches. Do you notice how they swoop?" As she spoke, she visited each student, sometimes penciling in a guide along their canvases.

"What are those?" I asked Michelle, the newest painter in the group.

"Lines!" she explained, repeating the lesson Tess had just given. I squinted my eyes trying to decipher all the geometrical lines in the countryside before us... but quickly became distracted by the warmth of the sun, the soft fur of Smokey who had settled beside me, and the curve of my lawn chair which invited me to drift away....

 Seated beside Susan, having found a common ground (our love of dogs! Susan has two rescue dogs back home in Littleton!) I was getting as much information on her Smooth Coat Collies as I could, until we both got in trouble by our teacher after  Ruth, "the peacemaker" (painting on the other side of me, wearing my big straw hat) did her best to warn us first.

But when a soft-spoken Michelle, piped up, reminding us all whose turf we were seated upon, I was reminded of my pecking order here among the artistic fold (Top Dog! My turf!) ... and so rattled on for the rest of the afternoon about smooth coated collies, golden retrievers,  and whatever else caught my fancy. 

SOPORIFIC
If you were a bird in the fig tree above us, you would have enjoyed the soft hum of chatting, the sound of brushes clinking against jam jars, the breathing of a silver-whiskered dog napping beside the lawn chair.  And you might have begun to feel an agreeable drowsiness, like you did as a child, when after lunch, and in the presence of  pages rustling softly (a father's newspaper or, as here,  artist's sketchbook) these familiar and comforting sounds rocked you to sleep as you lounged among the more industrious ones. 

Do you, dear reader, remember those carelessly lazy times? Life rustling forward, gently, whimsically, light as a leaf.


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TESSA BAKER'S PAINT IN PROVENCE
Stay at Tessa's farm house where she will spoil you with fresh, homemade food and take you to paint at memorable destinations, like today's!). See pictures and info here.

 

Michelle-ruth-susan
Pictured: Michelle, Ruth, and Susan. I pulled up a lawnchair, eventually, and Smokey and I joined the group in the warm afternoon sun.

 

 

Watercolor-set

 

 PAINTING BOX SETS
Great for traveling artists, gift giving, or outfitting any student artist.
Order this one or another set here.

 

Thyme-in-my-pocket

Lots of French words and watercolors in Alison Johnston's book Thyme in My Pocket.

When you order any item at Amazon, you help support this French word journal. Thank you! Click here to shop from my book page.

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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"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline