French cabane = hut or fort (c) Kristin Espinasse                         La cabane de Fontouse in the French Alps at Queyras

la cabane (ka-ban) noun, feminine
  1. hut, cabin, fort; shed
  2. jail, clink, slammer

Hear my son Max pronounce the word cabane Download cabane2.wav

en cabane = in the slammer/clink (jail)

la cabane perchée = tree-house
la cabane en rondins = log cabin
la cabane à outils = toolshed
la cabane à lapins = rabbit hutch

Citation du Jour:
Les noeuds sacrés de la vraie amitié se forment bien plus facilement sous un humble toit et dans les cabanes des bergers que dans les palais des rois.

The sacred ties of true friendship are most easily formed under a humble roof and in shepherds' huts rather than in kings' palaces.

A Day in a French Life...

Sometimes the Var* is as dry as the desert heat that melted away my childhood days. In August, clothes on the line sèchent* within French minutes. Wait a day too long and shirts fade from blue to bleu-gris,* folds become permanent (at least until ironed out or rewashed) and neighbors think your brains have charbroiled for leaving French couture to cook on the cord.

Out collecting the laundry, I gather a fitted sheet and startle before a trio of trespassers. I shoo the sauterelle,* catapult the caterpillar and backhand the beetle. Such are the hazards of living in the French countryside. But then I'll trade dryer lint, shrinkage and static cling for a few sheet stowaways any day.

I turn my attention to the wet clothes. When I have emptied half a plastic tub of laundry I run out of pinces à linge.* I know where the clothespins have disappeared to: my children's cabane.* My thoughts turn to daydreams and soon I am back in the Arizona desert...

When I was a kid, we didn't have clothespins. My mom used a machine to tumble dry our bell-bottoms, tube tops and other groovy garments (soiled after building another cardboard casa in the backyard). There wasn't a fancy French name like "cabane" for our hut. My sister and I referred to it as a fort. Its walls were composed of refrigerator box, and not French linen. A sign on the door would read "Stay out" and not "Éloignez-vous!"*

Ousting a traitor from my kid's French cabane means shouting "Dehors!"* Back at le frigo* box, we simply said "Out!" While my sister and I secured our fort with scotch tape, Max and Jackie's cabanes (built with tablecloths and chairs) are held together with clothespins. Which reminds me, I'd better get back to work. I've got laundry to pin and hexapods to hurl.

*References: le Var = a département of SE France; sèchent (sécher) = to dry; bleu-gris = blue-gray; la sauterelle (f) = grasshopper; la pince à linge (f) = clothespin; la cabane (f) = fort; éloignez-vous! = scram!; dehors! = out!; le frigo (m) = fridge

(c) Kristin Espinasse. For more stories by this author, read Words in a French Life

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