French dog (c) Kristin Espinasse
Nothing to do with today's word... just a dog days photo taken in Draguignan.

"My Life in France." In her own words, here is the captivating story of Julia Child's years in France, where she fell in love with French food and found 'her true calling.'

une gourde (goord) noun, feminine
   1. gourd, flask, canteen
   2. simple (mind), maladroit
   3. Haitian currency (the Haitian gourde)

gourd, gourde (adjective): dull, numb (cold); dopey, clumsy

On appelle familièrement gourde une personne un peu sotte.
Informally, we call someone who is not very bright "gourde".

                                  --from the French Wikipedia, "gourde"

A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse

I hope he finds his way to the bathroom at night, I think, wrapping a piece of tape around my son's new lampe de poche* before using a permanent marker to label it "ESPINASSE, Max". One of the first things I learned when I moved to France was that the French always capitalize last names; presently I could use a lesson on how to label dark socks...

I examine the navy blue chaussettes* in one hand and my navy blue marker in the other. The dark socks will be difficult to mark, just like the flashlight and the gloves were. Too late to order iron- or sew-on labels. I remember the roll of tape.... Sure, it will come off in the wash... but then the packing instructions indicate that there will be no laundry service during the first week of summer camp! I stick a piece of labelled tape on the foot of each sock, happy to tick one more item off the list. I hope his feet will be warm enough.

The light blue bob* is easy to mark: ESPINASSE, Max (just under the bill), as is the tube of crème solaire.* Will he think to put on his hat? Will he protect his little freckled nose with the sun block? And the back of his neck? The merciless Alpine sun now haunts me.

Max sits on the edge of the bed, twirling his Equipe de France soccer ball.
"Mom!" he protests, embarrassed to see me labeling even the little packets of Kleenex.
"But it says here to mark 'TOUTES les affaires',"* I explain, waving the list titled "Trousseau de base."* My son points a finger to his temple and taps it. A little dingue* you are, he signals. His sparkling eyes and toothy smile soften my defense.

I open the smallest bag, and move the new orange toothbrush and the comb aside. I hope he'll find relief up north from his chronic allergies... with that, I slip the tissues in and zip the small tote shut.

When I've labeled every sock, bottle, comb, tube, gourde* and packet, I turn to my sparkly-eyed son. I feel like a dope* marking so many unprecious items against loss, when all I really want returned from camp is this eleven-year-old boy.


~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~

une lampe de poche = flashlight; la chaussette (f) = sock; le bob (m) = cap (hat); la crème solaire (f) = sunscreen; toutes les affaires (fpl) = all of the belongings; trousseau de base = (packing) basics: clothes, accessories, linens...; dingue = crazy; la gourde (f) = canteen; dope = gourde (in French)

French Pronunciation:

Listen: Hear my son, Max, pronounce the word "gourde": Download gourde2.wav
Hear Max's French sentence: "Ça fait du bien de boire dans ma gourde." It feels good (it's refreshing) to drink from my canteen.: Download gourde4.wav

The French word gourde in litterature:

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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