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gueule-de-loup

Gueule_2
Random photo of my friend Tess's chickens. They love to sunbathe & shoot the feather-light breeze in French or English (they are bilingual, after all).

Many thanks to Anne Clausse, and to the editors at France Today, for this interview: http://www.francetoday.com/blogs/0707_A.php

la gueule-de-loup (gul-duh-loo) noun, feminine
  1. wolf's mouth
  2. snapdragon

...les gueules-de-loup roses baîllaient dans les fentes des pierres...
...the rosy snapdragons gaped in the cracks between the stones...

                   --from "Les Misérables" by Victor Hugo
Read it in:
French or English
.

Column
There isn't a lot of time for a story today but one can always make room for a word (or two, or three!) such as "gueule-de-loup."*

Gueule-de-loup, for the yellow-as-corn flowers, no bigger than petits pois,* that grow in crowded bunches along the river Aigues just across the field of vines beyond this French window.

Gueule-de-loup for the funny faced flora, "dragon's mouth" to some, so small they might have continued, incognito, to enjoy their midsummer day, buttery faces pointed toward the sun.

Gueule-de-loup for the chatting and memories that the tongue-poking plants incite...
"Do you know what we call them?" My aunt-in-law asks, plucking up a specimen from the rocky river bank.
"No."
"Gueule-de-loup."
"Mmm. I think we call them snapdragons back home."

While aunt Marie-Françoise demonstrates their bratty-when-bent behavior (for what living thing enjoys having its mouth pried open via an intrusive pinch at the "jaw"?) I watch as the flower's pointy "tongue" pops out. What memories the gesture brings...

The flower fades from my vision, replaced now by a flower-lined path where my mother's garden is bright with marigolds, pansies, petunias, and snapdragons. On my way to the desert wash to pick wildflowers I pause, sink to my scraped seven-year-old knees, and give the jealous "dragons" a reassuring pinch. "No hard feelings?" I inquire. The jealous flowers drop their petal-jaws to respond with a pointed tongue-lashing.


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References: la gueule-de-loup (f) = snapdragon; les petits pois (m) = peas

                    :: Audio File ::
Listen to French pronunciation: hear my daughter pronounce today's word & quote: Gueule-de-loup: ...les gueules-de-loup roses baîllaient dans les fentes des pierres...
MP3 file: Download gueule-de-loup.mp3
Wave file: Download gueule-de-loup.wav
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