Cueillir photo: Olive trees and grapes vines in Taradeau

cueillir (kuuh-yeer) verb
  1. to pick, to gather
  2. to catch, to snatch

Hear my son Max pronounce the French word "cueillir": Download cueillir2.wav
cueillir à froid = to catch off guard

Citation du Jour:
Le bonheur est une fleur qu'il ne faut pas cueillir.
Happiness is a flower one must not pick.
--André Maurois

A Day in a French Life...

In the kitchen I find Jean-Marc frying brown-shelled oeufs* on our new stovetop. In the oven there is a sizzling cheese pizza, whose box has been neatly arranged next to the cheminée*--kindling for tonight's feu.* "C'est prêt!"* Jean-Marc shouts, and three of us head to the salon* to fight for the best seats.

Over dessert, and once he's fed us into a happy, easygoing mood, my husband mentions the olive trees that need to be cueillis* and the porch that needs sweeping. "I'll pick!" Max says, choosing the lesser of two evils. Jackie begins to complain, switching to psychologie inversée* for a winning result. "I'll sweep! I get to sweep first this time!" she says. I forget about my plans for a siesta when my daughter's enthusiasm and my son's begging have me vying for a place either behind the broom or under the heavy branches of an olivier.*

The nap would have been a mauvaise* idea anyway, I reason, stepping from the chilly house into the sunny yard where ten olive trees, some no taller than 8 year-old Jackie, are offering up marble size fruit. The colorful skins of the olives range in tone from granny apple green to eggplant purple. As Jackie and I pick, I hear the sweep of Max's broom as he pushes curled, colorless leaves off the patio. The metal wind chime hanging from my neighbor's parasol pine tinkles from beyond. I look over to our own wind chimes; beyond them Jean-Marc is painting the shutters in a shade of green best described as sauge.*

As I face the olive tree, the sun warms the back of my head causing any lingering doubts to defrost and melt away. I begin to think about how picking olives is not such a big chore after all. Hélas,* the clouds inch forward and before long I am zipping up my coat. As I watch the sun slip behind the nuages,* I wonder if my daughter could use some of her psychology on them as well.

*References: un oeuf (m) = egg; une cheminée (f) = fireplace; le feu (m) = fire; C'est prêt! = It's ready!; le salon (m) = living room; cueillis (cueillir) = picked; psychologie inversée (f) = reverse psychology; un olivier (m) = olive tree; mauvais(e) = bad; la sauge (f) = sage; hélas = unfortunately; le nuage (m) = cloud

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