TODAY'S WORD: le pet (le pétou*)
*In Provençal it means "little fart."
Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence in French
Le petou est littéralement la bête qui pue.
Le petou is literally the beast that stinks.
French definition from the Dictionnaire Etymologique et Ethnologique des parlers brionnais
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A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse
We have been living in limbo since the day we promised to sell our vineyard. Even though we found ideal buyers and we've signed a promise to buy a home in La Ciotat, the process is slow and uncertain--with more than one government entity involved in the transaction. Six months into the process, it is still not sure when--or if--we will be able to turn the page, and lately this has really set my husband back.
Wednesday afternoon Jean-Marc and I headed to La Port de La Madrague. This time of year all the wildflowers are out...lilas, santolines, genêts, les immortelles...making the coastal walk along the Sentier Littoral even more spectacular. Bright colors and fresh air are mood-altering, but I had not expected this sneaky blues remedy to work instantanément....
It happened almost as soon as we parked our car right alongside le quai. That is when I looked over and noticed one of the small traditional fishing boats. Unlike the brightly-painted pointus, this little boat was dull and washed out. You could barely read its name (unceremoniously stamped onto the side of the bow). It read, PÉTOU ("Little Fart").
An unexpected snort escaped me.
My husband looked over from the driver's seat, where the weight of our past year held him frozen in place.
"Come on, let's get out. I've got to show you something...."
Jean-Marc followed me to the edge of the dock, where I pointed to the fading fishing boat. "Look at its name!"
And there, my husband lit up. If you could have seen that smile, that look of amusement--that glimmer of childhood antics in his eyes--you, too, would have burst with joy!
So, Dear Reader, forgive me for featuring a soi-disant "vulgar" word in today's missive. But I think you will agree, a little fart is harmless--and it could very well make somebody's day.
* * *
Post note: Not only did Jean-Marc enjoy what he saw, he immediately wanted to share it with his childhood copains. He pulled out his telephone and knelt beside the old Fart in time to take its picture.
Meantime I looked around, as one does when "fart" comes to mind....but only to make sure no one could see us snapping photos of a little boat named PÉTOU.
This story is dedicated to Erin and Tamara, "The Book Angels", who encouraged me to take a leap and write about a Little Fart. Please check out their helpful book, My Publishing Journey.
lilas (lilas d'espagne) = red valerian
santolene = santolina
le genêt = scotch brush flower
le sentier = path
littoral = coastline, seabord
le quai = dock
le pétou = little fart
soi-disant = so-called, supposedly
les copains = friends
EMBRYOLISSE cream - used by French grandmothers and makeup artists
FRENCH GOURMET ITEMS - including herbs, mustard, coffee, tisane, chocolate, cakes
FRENCH SHOPPING BAG - made and knit in France!
PARIS METRO CUFF - Unique bracelet with a map of the Paris metro!
WORDS IN A FRENCH LIFE: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France
Those of you who'll be in the area of Collioures around mid May - do not miss Suzanne Dunaway and Anne Pujalte's art opening!
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