petite amie


Talk about an original gift...Jean-Marc got stairs for his birthday (not these pretty ones but some other pretty ones) and can now access his future office without having to climb a ladder! Photo taken at La Bastide de Magnans in Vidauban.

anniversaire (a-nee-vair-sair) noun, masculine
  anniversary, birthday

Un diplomate est un homme qui se rappelle l'anniversaire d'une femme et qui oublie son âge. A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman's birthday but never remembers her age. --Somerset Maugham

The sky above the snow-capped Ventoux Mountains burned as red as a rooster's crest. With no crowing birds around to announce the start of a new day, the heavens stepped forth and obliged.

"The sky is clear!" I announced to Jean-Marc, who was set to celebrate his fortieth anniversaire* at the new farm. In a few hours, more than seventy-five guests (former school buddies from Marseilles and their growing families) would make the hour and a half trip north to the sunny Vaucluse...or so we hoped.

"Ciel rouge le matin, pluie en chemin," red sky in the morning and rain is on the way, Jean-Marc replied, dragging the mattresses out of the house in a last-ditch effort to make room for the guests. I had forgotten that old French dictum. Thinking about the imminent rain another adage came to mind, one that I learned on my wedding day while contemplating the clouds that mirrored the dark Mediterranean sea: mariage pluvieux, mariage heureux -- a rainy wedding, happy marriage. No reason the same couldn't be true for my husband's 40th anniversaire! I set down my coffee cup and left the garden chair and the sizzling sunrise to help our ol' quadragenerian lug the bedding over to the cellar.

The house emptied quickly what with only three mattresses, one small table, and four chairs furnishing it. With an empty house we might have just enough room to squeeze everyone so many sardines swimming toward the sun (the sun that was presently menaced by a barrage of incoming clouds).

When the bedding was stored, Jean-Marc paused to admire the view. "Well, at least we can see the Dentelles-de-Montmirail!" I looked east to the imposing limestone peaks which glistened like marshmallows in the fiery sky.

An hour later those limestone marshmallows had fully melted, becoming one with the clouds that had overtaken them. I threw Jean-Marc a sympathetic look as we brought in the last of the party supplies.
"To be honest," Jean-Marc admitted, "it really doesn't bother me. We can all wear raincoats! Besides," he said revealingly, "the grapevines are parched and the rain will quench their thirst."

As if on cue, the dark sky opened up and showered the caring vigneron* with approval. And there, beneath the pouring rain I realized, at last, that the former finance major was truly a farmer "au fond."*

References: un anniversaire (m) = birthday; le vigneron (la vigneronne) = wine grower; au fond = deep down (at heart)

:: Audio File :: Download anniversaire.wav
Listen to my daughter, Jackie, sing Happy Birthday in French to her father:
Joyeux anniversaire
Joyeux anniversaire
Joyeux anniversaire, Papa
Joyeux anniversaire!

Terms & Expressions:
bon, joyeux anniversaire! = happy birthday!
un cadeau d'anniversaire = birthday present
l'anniversaire de mariage = wedding anniversary
souhaite un très joyeux anniversaire à quelqu'un = to wish someone a very happy birthday

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