Russian comfrey and letter of sympathy (with misspellings), reads Sir/Mam, I offer all my regrets for the loss of your chickens. I am sincerely and deeply sorry for the pain this has caused you..." (Read on, in today's story column.)
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se rabaisser (seuh rah bay say)
: to humble oneself, to show humility or respect
Je me suis rabaissée devant le potager, en visant mon plant préféré. Et puis, je l'ai arraché!
I lowered myself before the kitchen garden, and targeted my favorite plant. Next, I yanked it out!
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A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse
I left Annie's whimsical garden with a bag of stinging nettles and a mission: to plant the medicinal orties and, secondly, to heal an open wound--celle de ma voisine.
The orties, no matter how menacing their bite, would be easy to manage; I needed only to wear gloves to transplant them. As for the pain we'd caused our other neighbor--I was not sure how to proceed... so I followed--hanging on as my body whisked forth my soul, over to the field just below.
There in my own jardin, I landed. Walking past the flowering consoude, with its ornamental purple bells, I knew instantly it was the one. I had just given a seedling to my friend Cari, keeping the mother comfrey--all decked out now in blossoms--for myself. Even then I knew I should have given the best away, and patiently waited for the seedling to grow into another purple-belled marvel. It wasn't too late this time around....
Se rabaisser (the French translation for "to humble yourself") literally means to bow down, and this I did before the royal purple bells of Symphytum x uplandicum--the noblest subject in my potager.
I knelt not as a worshiper before an idol; I met the ground as a broken heart falling in pieces! If the act was dramatic, it encompassed more than the sorrow for my neighbor's lost chickens, it carried with it the weight of other trespasses--both personal and universal. Isn't that what it feels like to be deeply sorry, or navrée? As though the weight of a world's sins rests on your guilty shoulders.
Kneeling there, the rocks below me drove their jagged edges into my skin. But I felt only the pain of shame as I searched for words.
"Please let there be understanding--and forgiveness. Please heal this pain."
There was nothing I could do to bring back the stolen chickens. And only God knows how hard I try to keep our dogs inside our property lines. The best I could do was to reach out to my neighbor: apologize, ask what I could give or do, and let her see the human face behind the unknown perpetrator.
As I stood there, now, on a foreign doorstep--my heart thumping in my throat, my arms holding out a potted plant its leaves going limp before my very eyes--my new neighbor studied me, her lips a straight line.....
(A suivre/To be continued here in Part 2 of story)
Note: highlighted links within the story refer back to previous journal entries:
Annie's garden (including part one of today's story)
Kristi's garden (picture)
celle de ma voisine = that (wound, blessure) of my neighbor
le jardin = garden
la consoude = comfrey
le potager = vegetable patch
navré(e) = deep sorrow, sadness for one's mistake
New rental in Provence. In the charming village of Sablet--this spacious home is the perfect place to return to after sightseeing, bicycling or hiking. See pictures here.
Plants are the best gift, no matter the occasion! An olive or peach tree, aloe or comfrey! They nourish, improve the air we breathe, and are often healing. A book about plants is the next best gift of all. I am offering one copy of Jane Goodall's latest: Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder from the World of Plants.
BOOK GIVEAWAY: Here's how to enter:
Leave a comment in today's comments box. You can say anything at all: respond to today's story, or tell us your favorite plant. Click here to comment and enter.
P.S. I can't promise, so don't hold me to it--but if I manage to get a signed book on Monday night--when I go to see Jane Goodall speak in Aix!!--then I will include the signed copy in the giveaway. Otherwise the book will be shipped to you directly via Amazon.com. Good luck!
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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