A babbling brook... and babbling villagers in today's story.

Note: French Word-A-Day will be on break, sort of, through April 18th. Meanwhile, I will try to send an update on our "Wine/Words" trip. Wish us luck... and speedy recovery... and thanks for your support! Check our schedule, here.

cane (kan) noun, feminine
  : female duck

...a male duck, or "drake", is "un canard".

Ma tête est comme une basse-cour. Quand j'appelle les idées poules pour leur donner du grain, ce sont les idées canes, oies ou dindes, qui accourent.

My head is like a farmyard. When I call the hen ideas to give them seeds, it's the duck, geese, or turkey ideas that rush up. --Jules Renard

:: Audio File :: Listen to my son, Max, pronounce today's word & quote:
Download cane.wav
.Download cane.mp3


When a cigogne* flew past his second-story office window, Jean-Marc reported the exciting event to me. I raced toward the fenêtre* in time to witness a streak of red, white, and blue smoke. The Patrouille de France* had just jetted past. I hadn't realized they went by any other name....

"Cigogne?" I questioned my husband.
"You know. It's the bird that carries babies in its bec.*"
"Oh, a STORK!" I blurted. But, which way did it go? Which way did it go!

Did it follow the tri-colored cloud of smoke of those French Acrobatic airplanes? More importantly, to whom was that heavy-jowled stork delivering? Just which amorous villager was to be the lucky recipient of the baby?!

Finding out the answer took a bit longer than maternity-ward labor, but we eventually heard the scoop (not so difficult in small town, where "tout le monde sait tout sur tout").*

It was David, another local winemaker,* who blabbed the blushing truth--and in a roundabout way:

"Monsieur Greenneck* has a missus!"
"You don't say? I didn't even know he was married!"
"Si, si!"* David insisted. "They call her 'Can'."

Well, Can can all right, or could, I supposed... Turns out that the stork had been carrying EIGHT of Can's babies inside its beak! No wonder I never saw it fly by... By the time I'd arrived at the window, the heavy-jowled bird had done a tailspin -- and landed "pile poil"* in the middle of the brook!

There, beyond a trio of platane* trees, we watched rippling water hit the banks of the stream where showy yellow irises "of the marais"* cluster this time of year.

"We call them canetons,* since the female duck is a 'cane'." David explained, correcting my "Can". I studied Mr. Greenneck (and was that a cigar in his smiling beak?) as he and the missus swam, heads held high, quietly down the brook, eight little quacking fluff balls trailing behind. Proud parents.

                                                                     *     *     **
Thanks, Kathy T., for this excellent video: La Cane de Jeanne by Georges Brassens 

une cigogne (f) = stork; une fenêtre (f) = window; La Patrouille (f) de France = French Acrobatic Patrol; le bec (m) = beak; tout le monde sait tout sur tout = everyone knows everything about everthing; winemaker(s) David (and Isabelle) Blanc = (their wine, "l'Insoumis" ("The Rebellious One") is bottled in Rochegude (Drôme); "green neck" = "col vert" (mallard duck); si, si = yes, yes; pile poil = smack (in the middle); le platane (m) = plane tree; le marais (m) = marsh; le caneton (m) = duckling

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