Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Be warned: "chiens bavards," or chatty dogs, at this neighbor's address.
"The Boss Dog" by M. F. K. Fisher, where the adventures of a proud if scruffy mongrel, the Boss Dog, serve as a pretext for an informal, fictionalized portrait of the southern French city and its denizens. Order it here.
braise (brez) noun, feminine
1. ember 2. cash, dough, bread
Ce qu'est le charbon à la braise et le bois au feu, l'homme colère l'est pour allumer des disputes. Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife. --Proverbs
A Day in a French Life...
In France, when a dog is "de race,"* its name usually begins with a certain alphabetical letter. The initial, determined by the rules of the national canine authorities, is based on the dog's birth year and therefore changes from one année* to the next. For our golden retriever puppy (born in 2006) we were required to find a name beginning with this year's letter, "B".
Jean-Marc's suggestion to name our puppy "Braise" puzzled me considering the term's English equivalent, "Ember". Her fur is not a golden red (she is light-coated) and her spirit is not fiery but melts-your-heart humble. No, "Braise" did not seem fitting, but forthcoming it became, as would be the fire-walking...
Lately, I am learning to promener* Braise. I knew dogs needed to be trained to sit, shake, and roll over--but to walk? Just as soon as I attach her laisse* the tug-of-war begins. With her back legs braced and all her weight behind them, Braise becomes a four-legged plow. I ignore the growing pile of earth, now separating her from me, and blaze a trail through the empty lot next door. By the time we've reached the forest, the earth piled between us, high as the arch of a French woman's brow, she's eased up--only to advance in a figure eight fashion, trotting in and out of my scissoring legs, causing the ropey heel of my espadrille to land on its side and me to falter and rise up again with each step.
Were you a nosy neighbor pausing to stare out the kitchen window, just beyond the neatly trimmed cypress hedge, you'd see the top half of what looked to be a traveling circus, a one-woman show advancing in an erratic, jumpy fashion--as if the woman were walking on burning Embers! But you'd be mistaken, deceived by the cypress screen. I was walking around Braise, and acrobatically so. Come to think of it, "Braise" is a fitting name after all.
References: de race = pure-bred; promener = to walk; une laisse (f) = lead, leash
In Gifts for Francophiles: The Café Rouge Clock
More cool clock designs here.
Listen to my son, Max, pronounce the following sentence:
Notre golden s'appelle Braise. Our golden is named Ember. Download braise2.wav
les braises = the (glowing) embers; live charcoal
être sur la braise = to be on tenterhooks
les yeux de braise = fiery eyes, eyes like coals
-from the Robert Collins Senior dictionary
More dogs in France:
Spotted in France: A Dog's Life...On the Road. Order it here.
A Dog's Life by Peter Mayle. More info here.
A Message from Kristi: For twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety