Why post a photo of bugs when we can look at this escapist image instead? Far from the plague... read on in today's story, below. Photo taken in Collioures, France.

Retiring in France: A Survival Handbook

Wine label update: check out Jean-Marc's blog to see all of the wine labels for Monday's Wine Label Poll

le moucheron (moosh-uh-rowhn) noun, masculine
  midge, gnat; fruit fly
  kid (slang)

Le savoir humain sera rayé des archives du monde avant que nous ayons le dernier mot d'un moucheron. Human knowledge will be erased from the archives of the world before we possess the last word that the gnat has to say to us. --Jean Henri Fabre

It is time, once again, to talk about living conditions around here... considering that our on-the-mend farmhouse has just survived its first plague.

I began noticing the "black-bellied dew-lovers,"* last week. (So much for a fancy name: a mouche* is a mouche!) The tiny red-eyed fruit flies, or "moucherons," hovered over my favorite pottery bowl until I plucked out a few furry oranges and one sorely bruised apple. There! That'll show them. Undeterred, the little winged parade headed over to the poubelle* wherein a few bottles of wine lured them in like lushes. I grabbed the sides of the garbage sack and with a twist and a toss they were gone. But not for long.

When the fruit flies reappeared, this time en force,* I picked through the fruit again and put a lid on the garbage can. I ran a soapy sponge over the countertops and returned the honey to the cupboard. The kitchen was now spic-and-span, though the fruit flies were the only ones to notice--this from
the rim of my tea cup where they took turns diving into the herbal waters below. Beurk!* I spat out my tea and brushed my finger over my tongue a few times for effect. While looking skyward in supplication, I saw clouds of fruit flies hovering above me and their collective wing flapping was enough to dry the just-wiped countertops. Shivering, I set the fruit bowl outside and ran upstairs to meditate on good sportsmanship....

In my bedroom/temporary office, located over Jean-Marc's wine cellar, I tried to look out the window for inspiration but the glass was one big blur of transparent wings! I shot out of my chair and threw open the window to find Jean-Marc standing on the patio below.
"There are fruit flies up here!" I cried.
"Je sais, cherie.* It is the marc. The flies will be gone in a few days."

I know it is the marc, or pressed grape skins, that are attracting the fruit flies! I have only remained ignorant in the name of good sportsmanship. Last spring, when Jean-Marc realized how complicated it would be to build the wine cellar elsewhere, away from our private home, I finally agreed to let him expand the garage. Though I was wary of losing privacy, I never imagined that a veritable plague of dew-lovers would arrive! And so it is that living above a wine laboratory, a live one at that, is beginning to take its toll.

Returning to my computer I try to get some work done until those "black-bellied dew lovers" begin crawling onto my hands! When they alight on my cheek and traipse across my brow I jump up and run from the room in horror.

Back in the kitchen the air is now teeming with moucherons. I look across the room and the light hanging over the table reveals swarms of them. How will I feed the kids their dinner? I quickly fill two bowls full of leftover pasta, cover them with a paper plate and watch the kids steal outside into the dark, sweet arms flapping as they fend off the dew lovers.

"There are thousands of fruit flies in here!" I say to Jean-Marc the minute he walks in. "Yes, there are four or five moucherons in the kitchen," he replies, and I sense he is low on patience, probably having fending off FLEETS of fruit flies since we last spoke at the window.
"No, there are thousands!" I correct, pointing out the truth as it is plain to see and don't try to pull the wool over me!

Bracing himself after what he perceives to be a verbal attack he responds.
"Millions!!!!!" says he, which is just his way of saying that I am over-reacting and why do I have to be such a nag when I could be a good sport instead?

With that, he abruptly leaves the room and I sit fuming at the table, one hand on my head the other covering a bowl of pasta. I am so upset that I can't even think of a good retort... except maybe, yes, why not...

"You Big Black-Bellied Dew-Lover-You!" The name's gotta be good for something. And those fruit flies shook their tiny heads in glee, the only ones, once again, to appreciate one nagging housewife's repartee.

References: black-bellied dew-lover = translation of the Greek term "Drosophila melanogaster" (for fruit fly); la mouche (f) = fly; la poubelle (f) = garbage, trash can; en force = in great numbers; beurk! = yuck!; je sais, cherie = I know, darling

Whatever you Jean Henri Fabre!

"Great French entomologist's charming essays on insect life combine scientific rigor with the style of a literary classic. Beautifully written passages reveal the intricate, fascinating worlds of the beetle, cicada, praying mantis, glow-worm, wasp, grub, cricket, locust, and other creatures as they hunt, build
nests, feed families, and more. Rare volume will delight any naturalist."

:: Audio File ::
Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word and quote:
Moucheron. Le savoir humain sera rayé des archives du monde avant que nous ayons le dernier mot d'un moucheron.
MP3 file: Download moucheron.mp3
Wave file: Download moucheron.wav
Rosetta Stone French (CD-ROM) -- "an award-winning method used by NASA and the Peace Corps"
Le Grand Miel -- 1000 Flower honey by Bernard Michaud
Songs in French for Children
In French film: "French Twist" starring Victoria Abril and Josiane Balasko

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