French terrace patio (c) Kristin Espinasse patio-terrace in Châteauneuf-du-Pape

pétillant,e (pay-tee-yahn) adjective
  1. crackling, sparkling, bubbly, fizzy
  2. sprightly (wit)

...and the verb, pétiller: to crackle; sparkle, fizz, bubble
Hear Jean-Marc pronounce the word pétillant: Download petillant.wav

pétiller d'esprit = to sparkle with wit

Citation du Jour:
Quel vin est aussi pétillant, savoureux, enivrant, que l'infini des possibles!
What wine is so sparkling, so fragrant, so intoxicating, as possibility!

--Sören Kierkegaard

A Day in a French Life...

I finished washing the floor then tossed the dirty rags in a pile next to the machine à laver.* Next mission: to prevent les petits pieds* from pottering across the now sparkling carrelage.* The four o'clock hour, a.k.a. l'heure du goûter or "snack time" in France, would take place outside today.

I gathered Max, his two neighborhood friends and Jackie into a football huddle out on the patio.
"Listen closely. No one in the house. D'accord?* I've just cleaned the floor and I have GUESTS coming tomorrow."

The little Frenchmen turned to Max and Jackie for a translation:

"Elle ne veut pas qu'on aille dans la maison car elle a nettoyé par terre et elle a des INVITÉS demain," Max said.

The kids gave a serious nod of comprehension.
"Understand?" I said.
"Oui," they confirmed.

Next I brought out individually wrapped chocolate sponge cakes, fruit and water and placed a stack of gobelets* next to the snacks.
"Do you need anything else?" I inquired.
"C'est bon, merci."*
"Okay, now remember, don't go in the house. Keep it clean for my guests!"

I left the kids and the cakes and went inside to tidy up another room. Ten minutes later I noticed the calm... Running for the kitchen I stumbled onto the trail of sucre.* I followed the crunchy path to its source at which point my eyes shot out of my head in a surreal cartoon-like atmosphere.

"What ARE you doing?" I said.

Jackie held a plastic cup which runneth over with just-picked mint leaves. Max stood beside her, pouring sugar from box to cup; some of the sweet crystals landed inside, the rest hit the rim of the cup and shot out across the floor.

"L'eau à la menthe,"* Max explained, concentrating on his aim.

Gobsmacked, I followed my son and daughter outside where the neighbor boys stood waiting, bottles of sparkling water in hand, ready to pour the eau pétillante* into the cups of sugar and mint. Another trail, this time of mint, began at the flower bed and ended beneath the boys' feet.

I studied the kids with their virgin mint juleps in hand. What I failed to realize earlier, was that my guests had already arrived. My all important invités* had been there all along, there in that football huddle and here now as effervescent as eight- and ten-year-olds can be.

Remembering that it's never too late to be a caring maîtresse de maison* (or maman*), I made my way into the house and across the sticky floor, to the freezer, to get my guests some ice for their fancy drinks.

*References: la machine à laver (f) = washing machine; les petits pieds (m) = little feet; le carrelage (m) = tiled floor; d'accord = O.K.; le gobelet (m) = cup; c'est bon, merci = it's good, thanks; le sucre (m) = sugar; l'eau à la menthe (f) = water with mint;  l'eau pétillante (f) = sparkling water; l'invité(e) (m,f) = guest; la maîtresse de maison = the "mistress of the house"
(hostess); la maman (f) = mom
If you enjoyed today's story, you might enjoy this book by the same author

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