My son and daughter, waiting for the wind to souffle at the Presqu'ile de Giens.

In books: "Michael Le Soufflé and the April Fool."

In the small town of Bakonneggs, France, the grumpy mayor, a pig named Melon de Plume, and a happy red rooster, Michael le Soufflé, battle wits until they learn to enjoy April Fools' Day together. (Includes a glossary of French vocabulary. More info here.)

souffler (soo-flay) verb
  to breathe, to blow; to blast, to whisper

Le vent des hauts-plateaux souffle où il veut : qui peut lui imposer une direction? The wind of the high plateaus blows where it will: who can impose a direction upon it? --Zhang Xianliang

A Day in a French Life...
The kids and I sit at the dinner table sharing gariguette* strawberries and wondering just what papa poule* is up to now.

We watch as Jean-Marc opens the hall closet, retrieves the queen-sized couette,* the white one with the blue boats, and spreads it out over the living/dining room floor. Almost as an afterthought, he tosses a pillow on top. I hold my tongue, lest it lash forth rules about where things belong and
where they don't. I wouldn't mind if Jean-Marc used the blanket as a mat, as long as he swept the floor first! Forgetting about the dusty tiles, I focus on my husband's self-improvement regimen: best not to discourage him from his "homework".

Twice a week Jean-Marc meets with the Oriental philosopher next door. Amid olive trees, umbrella pines, and a thick hedge of budding lavender, our Sri Lankan neighbor takes a break from writing and organic gardening to teach Hatha yoga to one motivated pupil. As with his informal mat, Jean-Marc is not particular about what he wears while stretching his mind and body. I've even seen him practice yoga in Hawaiian patterned swim trunks (the ones that clash with his flowered shirt).

The kids and I lose interest in dessert as we watch the amateur French yogi do a few warm-up poses before bending his body into the shape of a palm tree, a mountain, and a cobra only to rotate his torso into a half spinal twist.
"C'est trop fastoche!" It's too easy, Max declares.
"Can I try?" his sister begs.

The kids and I drop our spoons and race over to the feather-filled mat, tossing aside the pillow to make room for four.
"Tendez vos bras en avant," stretch out your arms in front, Jean-Marc begins.
"Bien horizontalement," very straight and horizontal, Jean-Marc says, pushing his palms into the invisible advancing wall.
"Tenez vous droit!" Stand up straight! he continues. "Soufflez!"*
After we finish the hands-to-the-falling-wall pose (did Jean-Marc make this one up?), Max announces that he has homework to do and I dash off to the kitchen to see about the dirty dishes. Jackie, breathless and climbing out from beneath the invisible wall, voices our thoughts:
"Ce n'est pas si facile que ça, Papa!" It's not as easy as that, Daddy!

References: la gariguette (f) = tasty, southern French strawberry; le papa poule (m) = father hen; la couette (f) = duvet, comforter; soufflez! = breathe!

Listen to my son, Max, pronounce the French verb "souffler": Download souffler.wav

Terms & Expressions:
un soufflé au fromage = cheese soufflé
souffler la réponse = to whisper the answer
on ne souffle pas! = no whispering!
souffler le verre = to blow glass
souffler dans le ballon = to take a breathalyzer test
souffler sur une bougie = to blow out a candle

Verb conjugation: je souffle, tu souffles, il/elle souffle, nous soufflons, vous soufflez, ils/elles soufflent   => past participle: soufflé

501 French Verbs includes a bilingual list of more than 1,250 additional French verbs, helpful expressions and idioms for travelers, and verb drills and tests with questions answered and explained. Order it here.

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