noun, feminine 
a purposeless walk, a wander

One hour before the sun slips behind the deep blue Massif des Maures, I ring my neighbor's doorbell.

"On essaie un autre chemin aujourd'hui?" I offer.

"Pourquoi pas?" replies my friend, known affectionately as La Voisine. And off we march for our weekly chat-on-heels.

On the edge of our voisinage, our pace slows to accommodate the quiet scenery. We drift past a lone vineyard, its unkempt vines a contrast to the majestic castle in the darkening sky beyond. We mosey down a dirt path flanked by sleeping fig trees, their dry feuilles having nodded off weeks ago. We laugh as we amble past the free-range chickens scattering to and fro as if the French sky was falling toward their wrinkly feet. We saunter toward the river to cross over a slender bridge no longer than an afternoon line at the post office. The river now at our backs, we hike the chemin de terre leading to the medieval village of Les Arcs-sur-Argens.

Above certain village doors we see dates etched into the stone lintels: 1638... 1524....

"Treizième, celui-là!"  La Voisine points out. I look up to admire another ancient doorway, grateful for the friend who has awakened this dreamer to another detail that might have gone unnoticed. How much more we take in when we walk with a pal! What might have been little more than a lazy stroll, is now a study on all things historical.

We continue our balade, weaving through a maze of tiny ruelles, walking where sewage once flowed as freely as village gossip, when families emptied their chamber pots into the narrow canal running down the center of the now-cobbled streets.

We steal around another bend where gray rock walls give way to a slew of multicolored facades in pistachio green, custard yellow and rum raisin red—village homes crammed together like so many colorful candies in a pack. The cobblestone path is littered with lipstick-red fruit—les arbouses—which reminds me that I could just kiss the French ground beneath my feet for all that I have seen over the course of our promenade.

"Take another path today," my mom always says. If you are reading, chère maman, please know that I am.



YOUR EDITS PLEASE! To correct any text or grammar -- or to add feedback about this story, please use the comments box located at the end of this post. Thank you very much!

French Vocabulary

Massif des Maures = local mountain range

On essaie un autre chemin aujourd'hui?
Shall we try another path today?

Pourquoi pas?
Why not? 

la voisine, le voisin

le voisinage

la feuille

le chemin de terre
dirt track

Treizième, celui-là!
Thirteenth century, that one!

la balade

la ruelle
narrow street

une arbouse
arbutus-berry [from the wild strawberry tree]

chère maman
dear Mom 

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Julie F in St. Louis, MO

"Life Savers" is two words.
In the 13th c. paragraph you need a space between "when" and "we."

Bon WE, Kristin.

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Julie!

Sharon Marchisello

Small detail: "chamber pot" does not need a hyphen.
Also, "rum raisin red"? I can't picture that. I didn't think rum raisin ice cream was red. Since the other images evoke ice cream flavors (pistachio green, custard yellow), perhaps you could substitute, "raspberry red," "strawberry red," or "cranberry red," depending on which one best represents the color of the facades.

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

This seems like a tricky word, vadrouille. I wondered if it was masc. or fem., and learned that
la vadrouille ia a mop
en vadroille is the definition that you gave.

Did I find the right words? How does "mop" without an article become wandering -- walk or attention?

Interesting word if so, and good new phrase to learn. I did not know this word before, so please do correct me if I have missed the point.

The story is great! Life in a small village that is hundreds of years old is full of delights I have never known.

Your colors, taken from foods, sound great to me. A rum-soaked raisin is nice deep dark red, and three colors came up in my mind right away.
The ice cream with rum-soaked raisins may not be all red -- but the raisins dotting it certainly are.

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

en vadrouille -- I left out a letter, sorry


Hi dear Kristin,
My imagination was really captured by your beautiful descriptions,particularly les arbouses-- and how you fit this in perfectly with the conclusion of your promenade.
The ending,though,was my favorite part.
Once again you have held your readers attention throughout the story,and then left us feeling good about life.
VERY well done,Kristin!
Love, Natalia XO

Judi Boeye Miller, Lake Balboa, CA

Walking is such a wonderful way to truly 'see' what joys there are all around! You story tells it all. I just had a couple of things that made me 're-read'--- in the first paragraph I think it would read better if you said .."I ring my neighbor's doorbell. ('my' instead of 'the'). I can see using La Voisine for her name, but the possessive 'my' makes her more a neighbor you know. The second thing that surprised me was 'custard' yellow - poetic license in a way, as I first thought it was a misspelling, for mustard - as that is the more 'common' color... so maybe 'custard yellow' is more interesting, but it stopped me as an error when I first read it.. either way is good. I would love to go walking with you - it's so wonderful when you are with someone who really 'sees' and enjoys!- like you and your voisine. I love the chickens' 'wrinkly' feet - so many great visages of the land and village in your story!


- Nice verbs -- we march, we drift, we mosey, etc. They really convey the mood.
- Nice pun on "nodded off."
- The river now "at" our backs?
- Hyphenate "now-cobbled"? "Lipstick-red"?
- Why is the scenery whimsical? We (you and the voisine) may be bemused, or dreamy,but the scenery is the scenery, no?
- Too many exclamation points.(!)Each statement communicates the meaning fine, doesn't need the extra emphasis.
- The penultimate paragraph: all those different food images (nuts + custard + ice cream + lipstick) together? Are Life Savers French? Maybe just candies in a pack?

Esereht  narof

Omg - how can u stand the "pedantics" of these so called editors?
Is it really an advantage to invite "corrections" - totally gets up mon nez!
I enjoy yr musings just as they are, from u.

Edie Kilgour

Hi Kristin,
I appreciate your willingness to have readers help with the editing. By reading their comments I become a more discerning and careful reader. I agree with the thought about too many exclamation points as it diminishes the impact of the punctuation.
Thanks for this story. I love it. We were just hiking on Monhegan Island (off the coast of Maine) yesterday and I love your thoughts about noticing things.
Edie in Brunswick, Maine


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