How to say crutch or crutches in French

Spaniel and cafe (c) Kristin Espinasse
""The rare Frenchman who uses the crosswalk" Computer is back and so are some long-lost photos from years ago! Youpie! Yay!


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 in discretion. 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.

***
Post note: Recently, I discovered in my seed collection a packet of Mexican poppies (a gift from Malou a few years ago). I will scatter them and think of the golden-haired stranger. She won't have the joy of knowing my gesture (as I had knowing of her plan) but that brings me back to stardust, which must--like the emanating and far-reaching light from which it is born--illuminate kindred spirits the world over. Somehow she will know.

To comment, click here. Share your remarkable experiences with strangers or talk about another theme in today's edition. Thanks.

French Vocabulary

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

Rainbow over the vines (c) Kristin Espinasse
Months before we moved to our first vineyard, in Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes, we would visit it. Here is a picture of Jean-Marc beneath a rainbow... and on the verge of a colorful future in winemaking. You can also see the kids and our dog Braise.

Jean-Marc will kick off his USA Wine Tour in March!  Click here for more info and to see what other cities he'll visit. 

The Dog Wash (c) Kristin Espinasse
A blessing in disguise is what Jean-Marc calls my latest computer crash... for when my PC was repaired, we recuperated all the pictures that were lost during the first computer crash! It is fun to see the kids, in 2007. That's Braise they are washing... in an old grape bucket from Uncle Jean-Claude's vineyard

Pronounce It Perfectly in French - with exercises in sound discrimination and accurate sound creation. Order your copy here.

 

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
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"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


26 actes de gentillesse

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Thank you very much for the warm holiday greetings. Wishing everyone much joy, surrounded by the things you love this time of year: family, friends, cats, dogs, birds... or solitude. Whatever brings you peace! See you in several days for the next edition. (Photo taken at Domaine Rouge-Bleu, our home from June 2007-Sept 2012. We now live near Bandol. No snow in either city, at this time!)

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26 actes de gentillesse

: 26 acts of kindness

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wav file

En mémoire des victimes de la tuerie de Newtown, certaines personnes ont décidé de faire 26 actes de gentillesse. In memory of the victims of the Newtown massacre, certain people have decided to do 26 acts of kindness.

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

26 actes de gentillesse

I first heard about it on my friend Ann's blog. Then Gwyn referred to the same idea. Responding to my Christmas tree story, she wrote:

...in trying to resolve the tragic events of last week, i saw the following story. people all over the world are doing 26 random acts of kindness--one for each of the people who lost their lives at the school...

I had just finished reading Gwyn's words when, there, in my box-springed refuge, I stirred. I got up and left my bed.

My boots flew on so quickly and, next I knew, keys in hand, I was headed out of the house. Flying down the dirt road in my little car, I felt as high as a super hero fueled by desire... le désir d'aider quelqu'un. But who? How? And would it require superhuman strength?

One look at my hands, which gripped the steering wheel as I sped out of our driveway, reminded me of my weaknesses. My fingers were beginning to be covered with itchy red patches. The neighbor's mimosa was blooming and with each new bud my skin reacted with yet another swelling plaque. Et qu'est-ce que ça gratte!

I forgot about my itchy, mere mortal status the moment I arrived in town, and saw a man struggling with his wheelchair. How quickly the chance to practice an act of kindness had arrived! I parked my car and hurried towards the man, when a pang of doubt slowed my steps: "What if your compassionate gesture is taken as an insult?" Come to think of it... just how did another's dignity factor into things? 

The doubt was fleeting and I rushed up to the man-on-wheels. "Je peux vous aider?"

"Non," he grumbled, looking past me. "I need somebody stronger!" I watched him point to the guy behind me, who intervened. With his attention focused on the other, I disappeared into the crowd at the farmers' market.
 
And then, on my way home from town, I spotted a woman struggling with her market purchases. The heavy bags were slowing her down, so much so that she had to stop to rest.

I pulled my car over to the curb and lowered the driver's window: "Bonjour Madame! Je vous amène chez vous?"

I saw an ever-so-slight scowl, which I took to be a look of discomfort. The women shook her head non, she didn't need my help! Worse, my would-be kind gesture seemed to interrupt her momentum, as she pushed off, resuming her encombered journey.  

I put-putted home. Gone was the superhuman energy I'd felt on beginning this kindness journey.

Only that's when I spotted the granny in the gumball-size car! It was one of those voitures sans permis, the itty-bitty cars you see here in France, the ones that anyone can drive, without a license.  Granny's gumball was stalled by the side of the road. As chance would have it, it was stalled 10 meters from my mailbox!

I stopped my car at the end of our driveway and unhooked my seatbelt. Finally, the chance to help someone in need! I looked over at the unfortunate one and saw how her jaw quivered as she tried again and again to start the engine of her voiturette. What a horrible feeling that must be, to be stuck on the side of the road. But never fear! Help is near!!

I bounded out of my car, only, as I reached the end of the driveway, Granny sped off! I guessed the gumball unstalled....

Dragging my feet into the house, I almost tripped over Braise. Dégage! I shouted. My dog ran off, sensing my sour, defeated mood.

In the kitchen, I went to get a glass of water when I noticed a sinkfull of dishes... and breakfast plates that were still out on the table! Why doesn't anybody help around here?!

When my husband unwittingly arrived into the kitchen, a smile on his lip-puckered face, a kiss was the last thing on my mind.  And oh, I had a mind! A mind to let out all my frustrations, and who better to let it all out on than my family!

And there it hit me. It is so easy to set out to be kind to a stranger. What is more difficult is to practice la gentillesse on a close one. How motivated I am when it comes to practicing patience on a stranger. But I have so little tolerance for any slackness on the part of my immediate family. 

And there I'd set out to participate in 26 actes de gentillesse! But with three failed attempts at helping a stranger, I was slacking as much as my family with their breakfast plates. 

My fingers began to itch and the sore state of my body infiltrated my mind where a battle raged: I'm tired. I'm hungry. I'm itchy! This is not a convenient time for me to be kind! 

Finally a little whisper could be heard above the protests... Sinon maintenant, quand? If not now, when? 
And who better to practice kindness on... than a husband, a teenager, a dog? From there, such acts can be extended outward, like the best helping hand.

****

Comments welcome here. It is such a pleasure to read your words, after struggling to write my own!

 Ann Curry came up with the idea for "26 Acts of Kindness". Some are making it "27 Acts", keeping in mind the shooter's mother. To comment, click here.

FRENCH VOCABULARY

le désir d'aider quelqu'un = the desire to help someone

et qu'est-ce que ça gratte! = and boy does it itch!

je peux vous aider? = Can I help you?

non = no

bonjour madame = hello, Mrs.

je vous amène chez vous? = Can I bring you to your house?

la voiture sans permis = a special car that can be driven without a driver's license

la voiturette = mini car

dégage! = beat it!

la gentillesse = kindness

sinon maintenant, quand? = If not now, when?

 

 

  Kristin and Jean-Marc Espinasse

Kristi and Jean-Marc (it is my husband's voice you hear in most of the sound recordings at French Word-A-Day :-)

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ouvrier

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What is remarkable, or kind of funny, about this sign above the window? Your guesses in the comments box. Photo taken in Toulon, where today's story takes place.

ouvrier (ew-vree-ay)

    : worker

Example Sentence:

Je ne suis qu'un simple ouvrier. I am but an ordinary working man.

  

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Mom and I were in Toulon, yesterday, looking up at a giant monument when a man suddenly appeared, like a phantom.

"Do you know the story?" he quizzed, motioning to the statue above us.

I looked back at the plaque, to the dates, which corresponded to WWII. "Were you there?" I asked.

When he didn't answer right away, I worried about placing the man in the wrong generation (and over-guessing his age). Casually, I rephrased things:  "I mean, are you from here?"

A smile lit up his wrinkled face, and he had to hold onto his woolen hat as if to contain himself. Once acknowledged, his voice hushed a notch. "There is another memorial plaque, on the other side..." he pointed out. "For the men who lost their lives in 1911...."

Mom and I listened, one of us translating as the stranger told his story.

"The battleship was called "Liberté"..." he began. "It was a brand-new vessel and it was carrying explosives. But almost as soon as Liberté left the port, the cargo detonated.  The accident caused several hundred men to lose their lives."

As the stranger spoke, his light blue eyes shone through my own, the warmth carrying with it a tangible sense of that dramatic moment in time. So transported, we listened to the waves crashing against the burning boat, the cries of the matelots, and to our own beating hearts, we frozen bystanders, one hundred years in the future.

After the stranger finished his story, my eyes were gently released from the grip of his regard, and I found my vision wandering from the man's peaceful face, to his worn-out coat, to his scuffed purse and shoes. In his hand he held a feuille des soins, or receipt from a recent medical visit. 

Around his neckline there was a layer of debris. Discreetly, I tried to identify it. It was the kind of dust that could collect after a long cold night on the streets of Toulon... poussière from an industrial city shedding itself on the unfortunates, or sans domicile fixes, including schizophrenics, runaways, and drunkards.

I observed the stranger's eyes, which were bright--sober as a newborn. His mind was just as sharp, and we listened, Mom and I, as he began to tell us about his beloved Toulon, this time in verse.

Les arbres qui l'entourent... la mer qui l'embrasse....

Mom listened as I tried to translate the poetic words as fast as the poet spoke them, but I could not keep up. 

I couldn't help wondering if the beautiful rhymes were his own. "Verlaine?" I questioned. 

He shook his head, surprised. "Now, where was I... oh yes! Les arbres qui l'entourent... Toulon, ville de fleurs... Toulon..."

After the poetry came a bit of trivia: do you know about les Farons?

I nodded my head dumbly (really not knowing a thing; in fact, when he said "Faron", I thought I heard "Pharaoh", and was soon lost in Egypt... when Monsieur interrupted my daydream, offering that le Faron was a hill. Pointing to it, he added: "There is a zoo up there." ). 

Just then, I felt a poke to my side. "Ask him if he is a professor!" Mom elbowed me.

"Vous êtes un prof?"

"No, I am a simple worker," came the modest answer. "Juste un ouvrier."

His statement set my imagination on fire again, and I pictured everything from giant cranes to coal mines to dock maintenance.

But before we could find out his story, il a disparu. We watched the simple ouvrier walk away--until he reached the edge of the place de la liberté, at which point he disappeared—poof!—like a ghost. All that was left was the uncanny feeling... of having just received a privileged visit from a drowned Liberté sailor, or ancient matelot.

 

 

French Vocabulary

(Je sais, je sais... I know, I know... this story needs a vocab section. Meantime, feel free to define some of the words in today's story. Click here to add a definition to the comments box. Merci d'avance!)

***

In other stories: this stranger's words, "I am but a simple ouvrier," reminded me of another character we met in the town of Buis-les-Baronnies. Do you remember the last peasant?

 

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We celebrated Jackie's 15th with my mother-in-law Michèle-France's chocolate cake. Uncle Jacques joined us, too.

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If you are new to this blog, you might enjoy this mother-daughter story le frisson written last spring. You don't have to be a mom to enjoy it; if you've ever wanted desperately to connect with someone, you'll relate! Click here to read it.

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In other news, Jean-Marc received a very big package yesterday. He has once again chosen the maritime shipping container as a solution to our storage needs! The large unit is not visible from the front porch (ouf!) and the wine color almost fades into the scenery... where grapes will soon compete with the colorful horizon! To add a comment, click here.

For more stories of Jean-Marc's original solutions to life's dilemmas, read Words in a French Life or Blossoming in Provence. Your book purchase is a great support to this journal. Thanks.

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. 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


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


chambre d'amis

Sunflowers (c) Kristin Espinasse
One of the photos featured in our Saturday edition "Cinéma Vérité". Find out more about it, and how to help support this free word journal, here. Thank you for your consideration :-)

***

One meaning of "host" is "lord of strangers". How's that for mystique? As well, hosting another person is considered, by some, as mystical, even sacred! And guests, in some parts of the world, are considered gods (or angels), who have been sent with messages. That ought to teach us to see visitors in a new light!

How do you feel about hospitality? Are you a thoughtful or absent-minded host? Is hosting something you look forward to or shy away from? Why? What are your best tips for welcoming a guest to your home? Do you offer friends a fold-out couch, or chambre d'amis? Or do you give up your own bed for a weary traveler? For how many days is a guest welcome to stay, chez vous? And what about offering a room to a complete stranger? Thank you for sharing your thoughts, here, in the comments box. Now for today's word:

la chambre d'amis

    : guest room, spare room


A favorite quote written (in English) on the wall of a favorite bookstore in Paris, Shakespeare & Company:

Ne négligez pas de pratiquer l'hospitalité. Car plusieurs, en l'exerçant, ont accueilli des anges sans le savoir. Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise.

Thank you, George Christian, for pointing out that the original quote is from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews, Chapter 13, verse 2:
.

    Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
    for by doing that some have entertained angels
    without knowing it.

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Lord of Strangers

When a friend offered a room for us to stay in, on Saturday, her son's wedding night, I wondered if my husband had not dropped a hint first.

"Are you sure you didn't say anything? You didn't tell Anne-Marie we were having difficulty finding lodging nearby?"
"No," Jean-Marc insisted. "I think she has reserved rooms for many of the wedding guests."

This was another concern, and so I voiced it: "But the groom's mother has other things to do than to worry about where we will stay! We can't trouble her with this detail!"

"Don't worry! I think Anne-Marie has rented a grange next-door, and we will be in a studio there."

My mind immediately conjured up a B&B, or a kind of rural gîte, and I pictured several chambre d'hôtes. I began warming to the idea of accepting another's kind offer. This was, after all, la campagne, and there were, beside vineyards, many old farmhouses that doubled as hotels. As long as we wouldn't be putting anybody out... and as long as we wouldn't be staying chez elle, with Anne-Marie, where there must be enough activity already, what with the wedding preparations.

When Jean-Marc and I drove up to the neighbor's lodge to get a key to our room, I noticed we were entering some sort of equestrian park. There were a few beautifully manicured arenas and neat stables at the top of the drive, beside a newly planted oliveraie. I figured that the owners had two businesses: rooms for rent and horse riding lessons. Speaking of the owners, there they were now, walking toward the car to greet us, along with three barking dogs (two Jack Russells and an épagneul).

The couple was striking; the woman might have been a sosie of Katharine Hepburn and, from her energetic manner, she seemed to share the same character. I watched as she signaled, briskly, for us to pull up closer to the garden gate. We rolled down the window in order to hear her instructions. "A little closer. There you are. Just mind the dogs (she pointed to the small Jack Russells), who have a tendency to slip under the tires!"

Jean-Marc got out and shook the our hosts' hands. I waited in the car, figuring that the lodge owners must have received many of the wedding guests by now. We would simply collect our key to the studio and be on our way to the wedding dinner.

When the greeting lingered I realized I needed to get out of the car and say hello."Why don't you have a look at the room?" the couple offered.

Jean-Marc and I collected our bags and followed the woman up a dirt path, onto a small patio, and into what seemed to be a private home. We passed by the kitchen, and walked through an informal living room. Gesturing toward the hallway, our hostess pointed out the home's private quarters: "This is where we stay," she said, referring to herself and her husband. On the way down the stairs, she warned us to "mind the bannister," which was wobbly.

On the lower level, the tour continued. "And this is the buanderie," she said, pointing to the closed door beside our room. I appreciated her taking the time to reveal this room, as I might have wondered, through the night, just who or what was behind that door. 

"And here is your bathroom." Again, more rooms were thoughtfully pointed out, so that we were familiar with our surroundings. This is when it occurred to me that we were the only people she was lodging. What Jean-Marc had guessed to be a many-roomed B&B was really one room in a private home. We had been in similar one-room-only B&B's, though I had never travelled through so many private spaces to get to the chambre d'hôte....

Once in our room we were given a few tips: "There are mosquito nets on the bathroom window, feel free to leave it open for some fresh air. Help yourself to the shampoo... and there are fresh towels and gants. I heard the concern in our hostesse's voice. It was clear that she wished us comfort. "Beware! In the morning, this one (here she pointed at one of the Jack Russells) might run in and pounce on your bed! The little Jack Russell's antics broke the ice and we felt more at home than ever.

"Is there anything else you might need? How about an extra pillow?"

"Oh, no, thank you! This is just perfect!" I thought to tell her that we would be back very late. Given that this was a French wedding, chances were we'd return in the early morning hours. 

"Pas de souci. I will be here, in my bathrobe," she chuckled, "to let you in". With that, our hostess offered another welcoming smile. "Don't worry, I will hear you -- the dogs are sure to bark. Oh, and sleep as late as you like. And when you wake up you might like to go for a swim," she said, pointing out the pool area.

True to her word our hostess greeted us at 2 a.m., our presence being announced by a trio of yapping dogs.

"Hey-oh! Taisez-vous!" she warned the dogs and she guided us to the front porch, lest we miss a step in the dark night. Passing by the kitchen, she reached for a bottle of cold water for us and, at the top of the stairs, she wished us a good rest. I hoped she had had a little rest of her own, but imagined she must have waited up for us.

Several hours later we awoke to the screeching of cicadas and the early morning heat of summertime. The bright sun filtered into the room from an opening along the sage green shutters. I could hear commands out in the garden and wondered if the hostess was taking care of the animals.

We appreciated all of the items left for us in the bathroom--including a comb!--for we had forgotten our trousses de toilette. And we were careful to share one towel, not wanting to trouble our hostess with more washing, after the sheets that she'd need to change from one nuitée.

At breakfast, in the cozy kitchen-living room area, we were joined by our hosts, who I imagined had been waiting dans les parages, or in the wings, for us. Over coffee, croissants, and fresh peaches from their verger, I learned a little more about this gracious couple. Horses are their passion, not their business. The beautiful stables and arena are for their pleasure, which they take on the weekend after a hectic week in the city, where each is kept busy Monday through Friday with a demanding work schedule.

I realized, then, that this couple had only their weekends to enjoy their horses and to care for their property. We didn't want to take any more of their time, and so we finished our coffees, savored a little bit more enriching conversation, and returned to "business mode" -- by asking for l'addition.

"But you owe us nothing!" the woman assured us. And, on seeing our hesitation, she clarified, "I am doing a favor for my friend," she said, referring back to the groom's mother, "by offering a room for someone in need."

It finally dawned on me that Jean-Marc and I were the strangers in need...

Suddenly another's generosity and humility deeply touched me. I thought about all the little comforts the couple had thoughtfully provided us, right down to the earplugs and the eye-mask on the nightstand! How their morning had been interrupted, so as to be present when we woke up, not knowing whether that would be at nine or at noon! In my mind's eye I saw the couple rushing home from work to get the room in order and to make sure there would be something for breakfast.

Jean-Marc was equally touched. "But, we don't even have a bottle of wine with which to thank you!" he said. 

"It is our pleasure!" our hostess assured us. And, just in case we were feeling indebted, she offered: "It is a honor to help another in need. I am sure you would do the very same."

These words echoed in my mind as we drove off, in a cloud of gratitude, touched by the kindness of strangers, who we risked never to see again. We were left with only a lesson: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Could it be that simple? These "others" sure made it seem so.

***

Post note: I doubt our hôtes are reading, but just in case: MERCI BEAUCOUP!!!

Le Coin Commentaires

The meaning of "host" can be read, according to Wikipedia, as "lord of strangers". What does hospitality mean to you? Is it your strength or weakness? What are your best tips for welcoming a guest to your home? Do you have a guest room, or chambre d'amis? Or do you give up your own bed for your guests. Will you be hosting over-nighters this summer? What about offering a room to a complete stranger, as our gracious hosts did? Comments are welcome here, in the comments box.

French Vocabulary

une grange = a barn (sometime re-structed into living quarters)

le gîte = self-catering cottage

la chambre d'hôte = room in a B&B

le gant de toilette = wash cloth

taisez-vous! =quiet down!

la campagne = country

une oliveraie = olive grove

un épagneul,e = spaniel

le sosie = one's double

la buanderie = laundry room

la trousse de toilette = makeup bag, travelling necessities case

la nuitée = (tourism) night (ex: deux nuitées = two night's stay in hotel)

le verger = orchard

l'addition = the bill

 

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Mama Braise, teaching three of her six pups a lesson in hospitality: "There is always room for another!" Mama Braise says. "And, remember, warm affection not perfection!" Photo taken in 2009. Read some puppy stories!

Exercises in French Phonics Exercises in French Phonics is... 
" a great book for learning French pronunciation"
"useful and practical"
"high quality material, good value for your money" --from Amazon customer reviews. Order your copy here.

French shopping bag I Heart Paris Shopper: made of recycled material. 1-Percent of the sale of this bag will support the conservation work of the nature conservancy. Order the I Heart Paris bag here.

 

***

Corrections?
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Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
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--Melanie


haut les coeurs!

"Heart in Burgundy" (c) Kristin Espinasse
Current events have us wearing our hearts on our former façades... and it's a good thing, n'est-ce pas?

haut les coeurs (oh lay ker)

    : lift up your spirit, take heart, be brave! have courage!


Thank you, Carolyn Foote Edelmann, for today's French expression: Carolyn writes, in response to Monday's seisme post:

Small thought - watching their dignity and fortitude, I think [the Japanese] may not want to be called 'victims'.

My Provencal neighbors had a phrase which sounded to me like "o, liqueurs!" - but was, in fact, HAUT LES COEURS! - [High the hearts]... I love it that this word, in France, implies "to infuse with courage".

Thank you for linking those of us who love France with a country I am taught to love (having lived through Pearl Harbor) as I never thought I would, watching their fortitude in the face of the impossible.

 

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Universal Love

I am rooting through the medicine chest, looking for the small blue box that contains my mouth guard. I haven't worn the protective shield in over a month, but I need it now. Teeth grinding is up, along with that ticky tremblement just beneath my eyelid. Twitching and grinding - it is the body's way of responding to those things that are out of its control: like our dog's destructive behavior, like Japan, like Mother Nature.

I grab the small blue box and pry it open... when something flies past me... landing with a TING!  I bend over, narrowing my eyes, ignoring the annoying tremblement de la paupière. 

I see a heart lying there, on the floor... t'was a heart that had fallen out of that toothbox...

Suddenly it all comes rushing back to me...

I see myself back in Mexico, packing my bags. I see my mom reaching to hug me. I hear her voice: "I've put a little surprise in your toothbox... open it up when you are on the plane."

I'm on the airplane now... reaching into my backpack for the blue box. I open it up and there, beside the plastic tooth guard, is the tarnished locket-heart.

I hear Mom's explanation when I call her that evening to thank her.

"It was a gift," she says.  And she tells me the story of the bus ride, when the Mexican "street man" stepped on board. 

Listening to the poor passenger who had taken the seat behind her, Mom sympathized, pointing to her own losses: she took off her hat and pointed out her thinning white hair. Then she pounded on her chest, pointing out her missing breasts!

When she put her hand on her hip, the man could not possibly know about the once broken bone. Mom didn't have the Spanish words to tell him.

And so, without translation, the odd couple on the bus shared their rotten luck, without drama, without fuss. And when Mom stood to get off the bus, so, too, the Mexican man stood up.

Humblement, the street man reached into his frayed pocket and pulled out the little tarnished heart-locket. He closed Mom's hand over the gift, before sending her off with a mutual heart-lift. 

***

Standing there in the bathroom looking down at the treasure in the palm of my hand... I feel the quiet peace that has swept in all around me. The world outside the bathroom door might be in a state of chaos. But I no longer feel swept up in it, shaken or tossed. 

 

 Le Coin Commentaires
To comment on today's word or photo--or to ask our cozy community a question--click here to access the comments box. Corrections to French/English text most welcome.

  

  July2005 039

Mum's the word! Jackie (pictured sans maquillage, age 7) thanks you for your feedback on her story! She's written three more articles... one of which is très "edgy". (She doesn't seem to have a problem with self-censorship, as her mother does!) I warn her that posting the story might get her kicked out of school. Her roll-of-the-eyes response? "Et alors, la liberté d'expression? What about freedom of speech?" 

Exercises in French Phonics Exercises in French Phonics is... 
" a great book for learning French pronunciation"
"useful and practical"
"high quality material, good value for your money" --from Amazon customer reviews. Order your copy here.

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
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"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


revivre

Trompe-l'oeil (c) Kristin Espinasse

Picture of a "fools the eye" or "trompe-l'oeil" taken in the medieval village of Les Arcs-sur-Argens (Var, France).  

revivre (reuh veevreuh)

    : to live again

Listen to 13-year-old Jackie pronounce these French words (Download MP3 file

Aimer, c'est mourir en soi pour revivre en autrui. 
Love is to die to self so as to live again in others. --Honoré d'Urfé

Newforest (whom many of you know from the comments section) notes: I think "mourir en soi" means the same as "mourir à soi-même", which implies -> not to live for oneself any more, and to become free to give one's life to others, to put other people's happiness first. 

 

 A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Guts & Gratitude

When Mom viewed Saturday's edition of Cinéma Vérité, she was transported back to France, to 2003, when, after breaking her hanche, she came to our village to recuperate. But once she arrived here to heal her hip, she began to notice a pain in her breast.... 

In the letter below, Mom recounts how she spent the hours leading up to her mastectomy. The idea of the surgery greatly troubled her and when the fear of the unknown became paralyzing she shot up... and proceeded to move every limb in her body in order to shake off the numbing unknown. Next, she flew out the door for a last-minute périple around the medieval village. What "unknowns" that troubled her heart were replaced by the "knowns" that had gotten her this far: namely, a community of caring villagers who had been there for her and her broken hip and who would be there for her even after this. 

Reviewing the snapshots of her former stomping grounds, Jules was overcome with gratitude: 

Darling Kristi,

You have flooded my entire being with memories of Les Arcs this morning. I used to run up those very stairs several times a day and night. I first started my voyage ascending in my trusty 'walker', then my cane, and finally achieved my freedom to practically fly up the cobblestone pathway to the castle above the night before my cancer surgery.

I remember that cool brisk evening. I was running all over the village, down to the train station, back up around the mountain to your neighborhood, back down through the village, across the bridge and up to the castle.

I was in another body that night, running from my fear, it was like I had a new body full of strength I didn't know I possessed... it was the longest night of my life. As I have said before of Les Arcs "It takes a village", they were my village and my family and without Les Arcs I would never be the person I am today.

XOXO

MOM

 

Reading Mom's words, I can picture her in her straw fedora and borrowed hiking boots. I see her racing around in the dark night, stopping, par ici et par là, to look into the brightly lit households as the villagers, who poured another cup of mint tea (how many Moroccan families had taken her in and filled her with sweets?) or glasses of wine. I know she swept past her dear friend E's "home", no more than a cubbyhole at the back of a garage, where a mattress and empty beer bottles were evidence of her only comforts. Those, and her raggedy, gentle-natured dog.

Mom was a spirit that night, passing imperceptibly through the village, mentally tucking in all her friends before she tucked her own self in high up in a one-room loft, on loan from a friend. There, she slept peacefully... on no other than "Peace Street".

In Marseilles the next day nurses rolled Jules away on a stretcher. I stood outside the elevator, staring down at my Mom, who propped her head up and smiled back at me. The doors were closing and the nurses had asked me to step back please.

Mom winked at me. "I'm ready!" Mom chirped, to the French nurses, who looked at her bemusedly. "Roll me in! Praise God. I'm ready!"

That night the villagers drank their tea and their wine, depending on which household you peered into. And I like to think that they raised their glasses and toasted the free-spirited woman. Mom was no longer outside their windows looking in, but that doesn't mean that she wasn't busy blessing them.

***

Le Coin Commentaires
Corrections are welcome and to post a comment, click here.


. 

Mom's departure 8.14.03 008
My beautiful mom, Jules, after the surgery in 2003.

Mom's departure 8.14.03 003
She didn't know it then, but another mastectomy awaited her in Mexico (the bad news). As for the good news: her husband was waiting for her. I cannot wait to see John and to thank him for all he has done to take care of my mom. I am only sorry it took this many years to express my gratitude.

Note: Mom celebrated her 5-year "all's clear" mark and is doing great! 

French Vocabulary

la hanche = hip

le périple = tour, journey

par ici et par là = here and there

. 

Claras war
I could not put this book down!  I have packed it in my carry-on, to take to my mom. It has nothing to do with cancer, but everything to do with courage and today's verb, revivre! Order a copy here.
. 

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
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"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


colombe

DSC_0051
Along the steep zigzagging path to the sea in Sicily, we stopped to peer in to this tiny chapel. The doors were locked but we stole glances all the same.
. 
colombe (ko lohmb) noun, feminine

    : dove

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

 (Continued from the previous story: "Switch-back")

On New Year's Day I was walking along a steep and slippery path to the sea, one very much like life itself: get past the obstacles--both real and perceived--and cross the finish line in victory! You might wonder just what reward awaits on the other side of the broken ribbon... but, consider: Life is not a race and the prize may just lie in the act of taking it all in stride, at a peaceful pace.  

Currently I strode, in panic mode, behind my husband of 16 years. I wanted serenity and I knew, by instinct, that Peace is what happens when you give in and quit fighting life's current. For the first ten years in France, I'd swum against the stream, it is only recently... since following my husband's dream... that I've begun to float. 

"Ça va Mon Amour?" Everything okay, Love? There were two ways to answer the question; similarly, there are two ways to face the new year: by caving in (to fear) or by venturing out (by faith).

I ventured a "Tout va bien!" and, voilà, we swiftly rounded an uncertain switchback, and landed on the seashore. 

As soon as my husband's feet hit sea level, he was off! Scrambling over the giant rocks beneath the seawall to kiss the salty waters beyond (in the end, he opted for a splash-on-the-face "bath" and not full immersion!).

I was still standing in the road when a foot-dragging dog limped past me. The dog seemed to live in the modest house at the back of the parking lot, which faced the sea. My eyes followed the crippled creature to an empty, industrial lot, farther on where thousands of birds were gathering.

Amid the commotion, a figure began to appear from within the frenzy of feathers. It was a man! The man, of a certain age, was holding a 20 liter bucket in each hand, the source of so much excitement on the part of the birds.

I followed in the dog's tracks... drawn to the stranger's simple act of charity. Why would a man lug such a heavy burden, then stand still as an altar... only to risk being capsized by a hungry flock of seed thieves?

The answer was written on the stranger's face: for the joy in giving!

I leave you with photos of "Antonio" and his dog "Lupo". And who said there is no prize at the finish line? I do believe this man and his dog and "their" birds of peace were the reward for following the path of life, for trying--one step forward, two back... to take fears and doubts in stride.

 

 Le Coin Commentaires / Comments Corner
Corrections and comments are most welcome. Click here to leave a message.

 

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words: 
Click to Download the MP3 file

L'homme était en train de nourrir les colombes.
The man was feeding the doves. 

Please help me to resolve a technical issue by trying out the audio feature, above, and then giving feedback on the following question (those reading via email may need to click over to the blog to see the question and to vote)? To comment on this question, thanks for using the comments box (click here).

 

 

 

 DSC_0056

Look closely and you will see the man in the photo, above...

DSC_0059

I thought they were pigeons... but Antonio pointed out the colombes....

DSC_0078

Yes -- doves!

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Sweet Lupo...

DSC_0095

What a lovely man and dog -- and a flock of fans to prove it!

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Do you have a minute to read the story "Tourterelle" or "turtledove": it's short--under 200 words... and you'll learn the French word for "lovebird"! Click here.

 Exercises in French PhonicsExercises in French Phonics is " a great book for learning French pronunciation", "useful and practical", "high quality material, good value for your money" --Amazon customer reviews. Order a copy here.

 

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
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"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


s'occuper

Josephine baker colins
Read about "Josey" (from our former stomping grounds of St. Maximin) in today's story... and don't miss a photo of Smokey's Ma and Pa at the end of this edition.

s'occuper

(so-kew-pay)

verb


to keep oneself busy


Italian Josephine made homemade pizza the size of a hamburger patty, only there wasn't any viande, just a bony anchovy and a meaty olive or two. When she had the energy, she delivered her Italian pies and stayed to watch you enjoy them. And she never charged.

"Ça m'occupe." It keeps me busy, she would say, simply. As I ate, she would sit facing me with her cane, her knitted shawl, and her buckled shoes, and reminisce about an American friend, whose name she shared, and the adventures they had back in the '50s along the Côte d'Azur, when one ran an Italian épicerie and the other ran away from Paris. I listened, but mostly I studied Josey, whose dark eyes, once dull, now sparkled.

The last time Josephine showed up at my door with one of her trademark mini pizzas, she was carrying a black-and-white photograph.
 
"I have something to show you," she said. We sat at the table, I in my one-size-fits-all dress (weeks away from giving birth to my second child) and Josey with her shawl and cane and buckled shoes, the black-and-white photo between us. The scratched and faded image revealed the two glowing Josephines: one "café," the other "au lait." The women were dressed in satin kimonos and holding umbrellas, smiles as big as the complicity they shared. I studied the old photo from afar when suddenly my Josey mentioned that her friend loved to sing and dance....

Sing. Dance. Josephine! That's when I grabbed the photo from the table and viewed, up close, the veritable, the one and only Josephine Baker—the celebrated American danseuse (and sometime secret agent) known to appear at the Paris Folies in nothing more than a jupe made of bananas, her pet leopard, Chiquita, in tow.

My excitement was cut short when Josey told me that she was moving to Saint-Raphaël, that her daughter could no longer look after her here in Saint-Maximin. I quietly set down the photo and looked at my friend as a lump formed in my throat. C'est toujours comme ça, I thought bitterly. Just when you meet someone—the kind of person you can just sit with and say nothing to and not feel awkward, the kind who makes a little pizza pie for you because they are thinking of you in your absence—they up and move to a faraway city!

Before Josephine left, she pushed the photo across the table. "C'est pour toi," she said in her soft voice. I tried to tell her that I could not accept her photo, that she should keep it, but she insisted. I couldn't take Josey's only photo of her with her legendary friend...unless...unless it wasn't the only one? Perhaps there were others? Yes! There must be others of those "girls" in the good ol' days—other snapshots—with leopards and banana skirts and maybe a feather boa or two!

I watched as my Josey padded out the door, little steps with her big-buckle shoes. So fragile, she seemed, that you might have taken her for a broken-winged bird, but for the leopard-printed tracks in her wake.

***

 

YOUR EDITS HERE
 Thank you for pointing out any typos or important ambiguities (!)  here


French Vocabulary

la viande = meat

l'épicerie (f) = grocer's

le café = coffee

au lait = with milk

la danseuse (le danseur) = dancer

Folies = Les Folies Bergères (famous music hall in Paris)

la jupe = skirt

c'est toujours comme ça = it is always that way


 

Hear Jean-Marc pronounce the verb s'occuper: Download soccuper.wav

Expression: Occupe-toi de tes affaires! = Mind your own business!

Conjugation: je m'occupe, tu t'occupes, il/elle s'occupe; nous nous occupons, vous vous occupez, ils/elles s'occupent

 Easy French Reader: A fun and easy new way to quickly acquire or enhance basic reading skills

In film:  Paris Je T'aime Paris I love You.

Kindle 189
Kindle Wireless Reader, 3G + WiFi. Order one here.

DSC_0020

Smokey's parents: Mr. Sam (left) and Mrs. Braise (brez). 

DSC_0030-3 
You did read the story of their elopement in Marseilles? They were about to board the train for Venise when we finally caught up with them! Read the story here.

 Recipe! Though I never did think to ask Josey for her pizza recipe, here is something similar...  a cinch of a recipe from my daughter's French godmother, Rachel. View it here.

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
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"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


lievre

DSC_0028
Little lost lièvre...

   Tortoise et hare
The Tortoise and the Hare - Bilingual edition! Order here.

 

..


le lièvre (lee evr) noun, masculine

    : hare

synonym: le bouquin = buck rabbit


Terms & Expressions:
    un bec-de-lièvre = hare lip
    C'est là que gît le lièvre
= that's the crucial point
    lever/soulever un  lièvre = to hit on a problem
    chasser deux/plusieurs lièvres à la fois = to attempt to do two/several things at once
. 

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Aunt Marie-François stopped by yesterday, on her way home from work. "Viens voir ce que j'ai dans la voiture," ("come see what I have in my car,") she said.

I followed my belle-tante out to the vines beside which her voiturette was parked. I watched as she opened the passenger-side door, then reached into the car and carefully pulled out her wicker panier. Inside there was a smaller basket lined with cotton. And there, in the center, was a nouveau-né.

"Do you know what it is?" She, already knowing the answer, quizzed me. My guess was a cochonnet, given the shape of its face and its round ear. 

"Aha! Mais..." my aunt said, gently turning the newborn to its side. And there I saw an elongated ear....

"C'est un bébé lièvre!"

"The maman must have bitten off the other ear while cleaning off the placenta," Marie-François guessed.

She told me the story of how Uncle Jean-Claude found the abandoned newborn in the vines, while prepping for the harvest over in Chateauneuf du Pape. 

Aunt Marie-Françoise and I stared at the little rescapé who, she tells me, is drinking pharmaceutical cat formula (with the help of a pipette) every two hours. "If it's good enough for cats," Marie-François reasoned, "it's good enough for him."

"What will you call the orphan?" I asked, suppressing the urge to tickle its fuzzy chin or to so much as touch the weak infant. 

"I haven't thought of a name," she admitted. I guessed this had something to do with the delicate state of its health. Would the little lièvre survive?

"Why not call him Pierre?" I offered, thinking of the plucky Peter Rabbit.

My aunt giggled, softly. This little one would indeed need pluck... along with oodles of luck!

"It's true that we found him in a pierraille..." she considered. "We could call him Pierrot!"

"That's it, Pee err oh!" I seconded, sounding the soft nom de guerre. May he be a fighter! 

My aunt looked doubtful and her eyes turned tender as tears.

"On verra...." said she, setting Pierrot down in his basket, ever so quietly.

***

Le Coin Commentaires

Questions, corrections, and comments are most welcome! Thank you for leaving a message here, in the comments box.

 French Vocabulary

la belle-tante = aunt-in-law

la voiturette = little car

le panier = basket

le/la nouveau-né(e) = newborn

le cochonnet = piglet

c'est un bébé lièvre = it's a baby hare

la maman = mother

le/la rescapé(e) = survivor

une pierraille = place, yard with loose stones

nom de guerre = literally "war name"

on verra = we shall see 

 

DSC_0031

French Demystified...simple enough for a beginner but challenging enough for a more advanced student.

Emile Henry

A French standby. Strong, durable, all Emile Henry cookware can be taken directly from the freezer to the hot oven, can go under a broiler and in the microwave; freezer and dishwasher safe. The natural clay is unsurpassed for conducting and retaining heat.

 

 In books: I'll Never Be French (no matter what I do): Living in a Small Village in Brittany 


Exercises in French Phonics Exercises in French Phonics is... 
" a great book for learning French pronunciation"
"useful and practical"
"high quality material, good value for your money" --from Amazon customer reviews. Order your copy here.

 

DSC_0008

Cat curtains. Photo taken in Tulette, while strolling through the village with my friend (and newbie harvester) Sandy.

In French film: Le lièvre de Vatanen

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. 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


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


empreinte

DSC_0273
In the village of Sarrians: a slice of scenic life. Don't miss out on the whole pie at Cinéma Vérité.


empreinte (ahm-prehnt) noun, feminine

    : print, trace, mark

empreinte génétique = genetic imprint
empreintes digitales = fingerprint
empreinte de rouge à lèvres = lipstick mark

Audio File: Listen to my daughter, Jackie, pronounce the day's word, terms, and example sentence: Download MP3 or Download Wav

Elle a laissé une empreinte sur ma joue. She left her mark on my cheek.


....................................................................

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
....................................................................

Standing before the tall iron gates to the Gare D'Avignon train station, my aunt kissed me firmly, once on each joue. When she pulled back, I noticed her eyes begin to water and I looked away, focusing instead on her "Apple Polish" lipstick. It is her signature rouge à lèvres and she, the affectionate embrasseuse, often leaves a trace of it on those she loves.

On the way home from the gare, I decided to positiver: to not focus on my aunt and uncle's absence, rather to turn the lonely ride into a Sunday drive (opting for the scenic and free route nationale instead of the autoroute).

Twenty minutes into the trip and the signs for Courthézon went missing.... In their place were signs to Monteux. That's odd, I thought, until it dawned on me that I had taken a wrong turn.

I decided to not try to track back and, instead, let serendipity be the guide. Might as well enjoy the unplanned spree and so much floral scenery! I rolled down my window, inhaling the sweet scent of Scottish broom.
  Scottish Broom (c) Kristin Espinasse

The yellow-budded bushes are scattered everywhere this time of year. In contrast with the yellow buissons, ripe red coquelicots flanked the country roads and cherry trees bowed loaded down with their bright red bounty. Adding to the color fest were the frilly dresses and clacking heels which offered an oh-so-french summertime appeal.

Coasting into a suburban district, I soon recognized the village of Sarrians and pulled off the road along the tree-lined boulevard Albin Durand. Recognizing a favorite French façade, I snapped a few photos before setting out on a petit périple through the village.

I remembered a large cour where Mom and I had admired a pretty patch of belle de nuit. Now, two years later, I have the same flowers growing in my own garden. Lost in nostalgic souvenirs I ambled past les belles, snapping a few more photos along the way.

When next I came out of my photo stupor, I noticed a woman smiling at me. I could just make out her face beyond the glare of a windshield. Beside the car there was a bucket of sudsy water. I approached the friendly car washer and greeted her:

"It is all so beautiful," I explained, pushing my camera aside. The woman looked to be in her mid fifties. Her short blond hair was thick and wavy. In the place of maquillage she wore a healthy, natural glow.

The car washer smiled and I noticed how her sourire was unusually sympathetic. It reminded me of the other villagers I had just encountered: strangely, they were all smiling back at me in that same endearing, empathetic way. How comforting this was after leaving my family back at the train station.

I saw the bottle of window cleaner in the car washer's hand.
"Je vends ma voiture," she explained. I stood back and offered an appreciative glance (but, between you and me, the car was real rattletrap. I hoped my new friend was trading up...).

"Je vois. And what will you be driving next?"

"A Renault!" she answered, citing a newer model. This was good news indeed!

We chatted like that for a moment and I couldn't help wonder about her ever affectionate stare and that sympathetic smile which mirrored the locals that I had saluted earlier.

"Well, I should be moving on," I announced.

The car washer nodded, and her sympathetic stare went on to meet the sides of my face.

"Au fait," she said, pointing to my joues, "You have lipstick prints."

Lipstick prints!

My hands flew up to my cheeks and I remembered those friendly French faces which now flashed before me:

the old man on the bike whose smile seemed over-polite
the little girl grinning sweetly, ever indiscreetly
the young man who said salut (hoot hoot!)

How sympathetic they had been to the lip-smacking situation, never stopping to point it out, and, in so doing, keeping their own dignified clout.

Meantime my Aunt was halfway to Paris, hopefully giggling like gangbusters (or, at the very least, like sugar snatchers).

 :: Le Coin Commentaires ::
 

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***


la gare = train station
la gare d'Avignon
= Avignon train station
une joue
= jowl, cheek
le rouge à lèvres = lipstick
une embrasseuse (un embrasseur) = a kisser, one who kisses
positiver = to look on the bright side
la route nationale = highway
l'autoroute (f) = motorway, freeway
le buisson = bush
le coquelicot (syn. le pavot) = poppy
petit = little
le périple = journey
la cour = courtyard
la belle de nuit ("lady of the night") = botanical name "marvel of Peru" flower (Mirabilis jalapa "The four o'clock flower")
le maquillage = make-up
le sourire = smile
je vends ma voiture = I'm selling my car
je vois = I see
au fait... = by the way...

***

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