sparkling, bubbly, fizzy 

When I finished mopping the apricot tiles of our home, I considered my next mission: to prevent so many little feet from pottering across the clean carrelage. The messy four o'clock goûter would just have to take place outside today! I would not risk cake crumbs or spilled drinks on this clean floor!

I gathered Max, his two neighborhood friends, and Jackie into a football huddle out on the patio.

"Listen closely. I don't want any of you coming in the house, d'accord? I've just cleaned the floor, and I have GUESTS coming soon."

The French boys turned to Max and Jackie for a translation:

"Elle ne veut pas qu'on aille dans la maison car elle vient de nettoyer par terre et elle a des INVITÉS demain."

The kids gave serious nods of comprehension.

"Understand?" I checked.

"Oui," they confirmed.

Satisfied, I brought out individually wrapped chocolate sponge cakes, fruit and water, and placed a stack of plastic gobelets next to the snacks.

"Do you need anything else?" I inquired.



"C'est bon, merci," they replied, politely.

"Okay, now remember, don't go into 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 a suspicious calm.... Running for the kitchen, I stumbled onto a trail of sucre!

I followed the crunchy path to its source, at which point my eyes shot out of their sockets on witnessing the sticky scene.

"What ARE you doing?" I questioned my children.

Jackie was holding a plastic cup filled to the brim with just-picked mint leaves. Max was standing beside her, pouring sugar from box to cup; some of the sweet crystals landed inside, but the rest of the sugar hit the rim of the cup and shot out across the floor!

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

Astonished, I followed my son and my daughter outside to where the neighbor boys waited patiently, 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 leaves, began at the flower bed and ended beneath the boys' feet.

I observed the kids with the virgin mint juleps in their hands. I noticed how careful they were with their gestures as they raised their full glasses to their mouths for refreshment. They looked my way with smiles of gratitude.

And then it hit me. What I had failed to realize, back inside my spotless house, was that my guests had already arrived! My all-important invités had been here all along! Others twice their size might be on their way over; meantime, here were some visitors with a thirst for life! How much more could a hostess ask for?

I quickly made my way back into the house—across the sticky floor… and over to the sticky freezer door—to get my important guests some more ice for their fancy drinks. It is never too late to be a caring and considerate maîtresse de maison.

French Vocabulary
le carrelage = tiled floor
le goûter = afterschool snack
d'accord = okay
Elle ne veut pas qu'on aille dans la maison car elle vient de nettoyer par terre et elle a des INVITÉS demain = She doesn't want us to go in the house because she's washed the floor and has GUESTS tomorrow
le gobelet = cup
c'est bon, merci = it's good, thanks
le sucre = sugar
l'eau (f) à la menthe = water with mint
l'eau (f) pétillante = sparkling water
l'invité(e) = guest
la maîtresse de maison = the "mistress of the house" (hostess)
pétillant(e) = sparkling, bubbly
Did you see any typos or formatting faux pas in this story. Thank you for pointing them out for me, here in the comments box!

French Pronunciation:

Hear Jean-Marc pronounce the word pétillant:
Hear my son Max's sentence: Je me suis servi un verre d'eau pétillante avec de la menthe. (I served myself a glass of sparkling water with mint.): Download petillant4.wav

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

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Charles Orr in Flat Rock, NC

In the phrase "I've just cleaned the floor and" I would add a comma after floor.

In the Vocab section, you show "pétillants", which I suspect you intended to be the singular form of the adjective, without the "s".

Cute story! So far, this and the previous story seem to be good illustrations of how you "blossomed" in Provence, drawing important life lessons from everyday life around you. We all appreciate your talent for writing, but you also deserve credit for seeing these learning opportunities in the first place. It seems to tie in with your ability to take good photos.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you again, Charles! And thanks for the feedback -- I hope you will consider writing a blurb for my book!

Sharon - Montague, Michigan

It's amazing what we miss that is just under our nose. We get so busy with life and a precious moment can slip away undetected. Kristin, you have that wonderful ability to "see" these sometimes little moments that are ordinary but so full of meaning and precious jewels of life.


four o'clock hour - I think lose the hour, unless you mean gouter lasts an hour - I'm confused.


A general comment: I most enjoy the stories that have a relatively tight connection to the word of the day, where the story may veer a long way afield but the idea that holds it all together is contained in the word of the day.

Have you seen Bernard Pivot's recently published autobiography, Les mots de ma vie? I've only read about it, but apparently he chooses words that were important in his life and uses them as a springboard to reminiscences or reflections. (For those not in France, Pivot was the host of a wildly popular literary TV talk show of the 70s and 80s.) I saw an article about him in Lire (April 2011),

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Sandra. Ive taken out the hour. Much better!

Glenn from St. Paul

I'm not a French grammarian by any stretch, but shouldn't 'because she has just cleaned' ( elle viens de nettoyer...) be conjugated 'elle vient de' ?

Soit qu'il en soit, I'm enjoying this editing adventure of yours very much. Bonne continuation.

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Jane, I agree. In these stories from the archive, I was less careful about matching the word/theme of the day with the story (it has always been a goal, but hard to realize when meeting a writing deadline). I thought about that very topic, when I chose this story from the archive, there has to be a better title than pétillant or sparkling. The theme of the story (or one of the themes) is respect (but its a similar word in French, so it wasnt chosen).

Any suggestion are welcome. 

Kristin Espinasse

Glenn, Ouf! So glad you caught my French mistake. I had quickly rewritten that paragraph (but would have probably made the mistake had I slowly rewritten it :-)


Title suggestion: how about "hôte"? If I understand right, it can mean both "host" and "guest"...and by implication the attitudes of both?

Kristin Espinasse

Jane, I do like your hôte (so interesting that it means both host and guest! That said, Im kind of liking pétillant after all -- for the pint-sized guests had sparkling souls!

Anyone else want to weigh-in on a title change?

Betty Gleason with blue pencil in hand

I just love this story and the title. A gem as is.


Moi, pour une titre, j'aime bien "les invités".

Mary Rack

By "nodded sagely" do you mean the English sense (wisely) or the French sense (well-behaved)?

Mary Rack

PS - i vote for the title "les invités"! Or perhaps "les invités pétillants".

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Mary, I mean well-behaved. Hmmm... any suggestions?...

Olga Brown

What a wonderful story and message!
It made me cry.
Thank you, Kristin, for sharing it with us.



I "heart" this story!


I like 'les invites' (sorry I can't get accents - or don't know how to - on this computer) but 'petillants' is a totally new word which I know would draw me to read it to find out more.
I've always learnt that you don't put a comma before 'and' but that may be an Australianism.

Bruce T. Paddock

Hey, Kristin –

How about “Invités” as a title? It’s already on the vocabulary list.

In the first paragraph, the comma after “messy” is incorrect.

In the sixth paragraph, you’ve got four kids but only one nod. That’s teamwork! Maybe “The kids gave serious nods of comprehension,” or “Each of the kids gave a serious nod of comprehension.”

The space between the sixth and seventh paragraphs is larger than the spaces between the others.

“Sagely” means “well-behavedly” in French? Too bad I just made up “well-behavedly.” Would “politely” suffice? "Courteously"? "Submissively"? "Obediently"?

In paragraph 14, you spell out “Okay.” But in the vocab list you have “O.K.”

Every parent’s nightmare — the suspicious calm. Anyway, since it ends the sentence, I’d add a period after the ellipsis: “…noticed a suspicious calm….”

You need a comma after the introductory participial phrase “Running for the kitchen.”

Since you haven’t mentioned the sugar before (given that you’d just discovered it), you might want to go with “I stumbled onto a trail of sucre!”

Comma between “path to its source” and “at which point.”

At the sentence about Jackie and the mint leaves, I thought I’d misread something. Did she have two cups, one filled with leaves? I’d suggest either “…holding a plastic cup filled to the brim…” or “…holding a plastic cup — one filled to the brim…” I think the first one is stronger, though.

In the next sentence, you have a comma splice. It should be “…crystals landed inside, but the rest of…”

“Back inside my spotless house” should either have a comma before and one after, or no commas before or after.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Bruce! 

I am looking forward to transferring this story over to the manuscript-template... unless anyone who is now reading has spotted another typo?...

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