une béquille (beh-kee)
: crutch, stand; kickstand (bike)
Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the following expressions: Download MP3 or Wav file
Elle marche avec des béquilles. She walks with crutches.
mettre une moto, un vélo sur sa béquille = to put a motorbike or bike on its stand.
se déplacer avec des béquilles = to get around on crutches
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristin Espinasse
I was staring up at a flower seed display with packet after packet of possibilities when I heard a tap tap tap coming up from behind me. Turning, I saw a woman on crutches who was now looking up at the same rack of flower packets.
"Bonjour," I smiled, quickly turning back around. A moment passed before I thought to scoot over so that the newcomer could see the entire display.
"Ne bougez pas. Vous ne me gênez pas du tout," she assured me. Her hair, gathered up in a large twist, was the color of Mexican poppies ...or maybe honey-colored nasturtiums? ...the ones I was debating whether or not to buy. I liked the idea they were edible plus pretty to look at. I had recently bought a pack of blue starflowers, or bourrache, for that very reason. Come to think of it I had recently bought quite a few packets of flowers, so maybe I'd better head off now, and meet-up with Jean-Marc, who was two aisles over, in the "automatic watering systems" section of the store.
But before leaving I felt the urge to say something to the middle-aged lady with the béquilles. During the handful of minutes that we had stood staring up at the flower seed présentoir, I sensed her endearing presence. We had only exchanged a brief greeting and that is when I saw what my dear aunt Charmly would refer to as stardust. It's that heavenly sweetness that emanates from a kindred spirit.
"Wouldn't it be lovely to have them all!" I said to the stranger, betting on the possibility that she, too, was overwhelmed by what the French call l'embarass de choix. There were so many flowers to choose from. I went to put back the seed packet I had been holding when the lady with crutches responded to me.
"Which one is that?" she asked.
"Oh... cosmos," I offered.
"Cosmos?" She had never heard of the flower before.
"Ah," I said, smiling. "They grow this high..." I motioned with my hands," and are covered with fuchsia flowers. (I was thinking of the cosmos that my mom had so loved, back at our farm in Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes. The thought of Mom fawning over those flowers threw me back in time.)
Perhaps emotion had cast a fragile shadow over me, for next the stranger offered an affectionate compliment.
"Hold on," the woman said, as I returned the seeds to the display. "I will plant them and they will remind me of you."
It was such an intimate and generous thought that it caught me completely off-guard. I thanked the woman with the Mexican poppy-colored hair and quickly hurried off.
It was a strange reaction and, even as I was walking away, I wanted to turn back... to say something back to her just as nice! But what?
Two rows over, in the watering section of the store, I stood there debating. I should go back and get the seeds that she had been looking at (morning glories, I think they were...) and tell her I'll plant them and think of her, too! But as the seconds turned to minutes I convinced myself that the window of opportunity had passed. At this point it would be too awkward to return.
Hélas this touching encounter will be filed under Missed Opportunities. Meantime somewhere in France dozens of cosmos will bloom this summer. I see the woman with the Mexican poppy color hair hobbling up to admire them. She's finished with her crutches by now, and a part of her is even jogging down memory lane.
le présentoir = display rack
ne bougez pas vous ne me gênez pas du tout = don't move. You're not bothering me a bit
le bourrache = borage
les béquilles (f) = crutches
hélas = alas
un embarras = a difficulty (more here)
l'embarras de (or du) choix = embarrassing variety of choice, multiple possibilites
Au présentoir des fleurs je suis resté bête devant l'embarras de choix.
At the flower display I was stumped before all the choices.
avoir l'embarras du choix = to have too many solutions
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Mexican poppies growing at our former vineyard. Don't miss that story!
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