Laboring the earth, the old-fashioned way, at Domaine du Trapadis. Photo by Jean-Marc.

rêche (resh) adjective
  harsh, rough, abrasive (fabric, wine)
  prickly, cross-grained (difficult-to-deal-with person: un homme rêche)

Additional French definition for rêche, from Le Petit Larousse:
    : "qui est âpre au goût" = that which is tart to the taste

  le drap rêche = crumpled sheet
  le vin rêche = a rough wine
  la voix rêche = raspy voice
  rendre rêche = to roughen

Synonyms in English (and French) include flirty and fun words like scabrous, râpeux (raspy), and cahoteux (bumpy)

Listen to today's word in the following sentence (taken from the French version of today's story): Download reche.mp3 . Download reche.wav

Pas d'essorage rapide et encore moins de sèche-linge pour des tissus pourtant épais et rèches. No quick drying and forget about tumble drying for the thick and coarse fabrics.

A Day in a French Life...
By Kristin Espinasse

Here for you now, the "rêche" or rough translation of Aunt Marie-Françoise's "French Apron of Yesteryear" story. Enjoy!

                                    Grandmother's Apron

These days, now that it is customary--even easy--to do the washing in our modern machines, we have adopted new habits. We no longer need to protect our clothing, in order to get as many consecutive days'  use out of it as possible, and what a pleasure it is to change each morning, even if yesterday's clothes are still impeccably clean.

As for our grandmothers, they had to transport the all-imposing "lessiveuse métallique"* boiler before activating it over the fire! (Or, worse, they had to go to the outdoor community lavoir.* No quick drying and forget about tumble drying for the thick and rêche* fabrics. And so, back then, it was necessary to
superimpose protective wear over the clothing that one had prepared to wear... for the week!

For the women, still at home at the time, the protective tablier* was worn all day long. Only outings, church going, or social calling was done without the apron.

This apron of our elders had nothing in common with the cute little curvy and embroidered thing that decorates more than it protects some of today's moms when they cook.

The apron of yesteryear reached around grandmother's great hips, fastened with the help of a large ribbon, and ended level with the dress itself, just above grandma's heels.

And what a variety of uses grandma made with her apron! Folded onto itself, it became a glove for pulling from the oven dinner, or that beautiful apple tart, and carrying them over to the window for cooling. And, whipped before the fire, the apron served as a fan.

As woman, back then, constantly had their hands immersed in cold water, it was necessary to dry them quickly lest they be pained with a cruel chilblain*; just above the pockets, the apron's cloth served as a permanent towel.

When grandmother went to the garden, which, back then, was more a potager,* she returned with one hand tightened around the base of the cloth. Like that, the apron became a great basket permitting her to return time and again with vegetables, dry wood, apples (just fallen from the tree) or, with much
precaution, a collection of fragile (and still warm!) eggs.

When the littlest members of the maisonnée* became intimidated by the arrival of visitors, they ran to hide "dans les jupes" (in the skirts), that is to say: behind this vast drape of cloth. Grandmother took advantage of the occasion to wipe tears and to scrub the dirty (and pretty) little faces, or "frimousses".

When sun rays revealed fine dust on the waxed sideboard, a corner of the apron, in passing, quickly took care of the chore.

If she was going out and the air seemed a bit chilly, grandmother lifted up the apron's sides to muffle herself within this cotonnade.*

At suppertime, perched on the front step, she waved her apron like a flag, this being a signal for the field workers to head to the table.

And when all were seated 'round, it was, once again, grandmother's apron that bustled about behind the men in order to serve--all through the course of the meal!

This apron is more than a forgotten piece of clothing, it is temoin* of another time and place, of our traditions, for we all have paysanne* origins.

                                       *     *     *

Please share this story with a girlfriend, aunt, mom, godmother, grandmother, sister, daughter, best friend, co-worker, teacher, student, cook, or accidental housewife. Thanks!

Read "Grandmother's Apron" in French, written by Aunt Marie-Françoise*:

*Aunt Marie-Françoise (Marie-Françoise Vidal), when she is not harvesting her family's grapes, works  as a speech therapist (orthophoniste) and enjoys helping children who have special needs.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ References ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
une lessiveuse (f) métallique = copper boiler for washing; le lavoir (m) = outdoor laundry (consisting of a great, rectangular stone bassin filled with running water); rêche = coarse; le tablier (m) = apron; chilblain = type of skin disease ; le potager (m) = vegetable
garden; la maisonnée (f) = household; la cotonnade (f) = cotton fabric; le témoin (m) = witness, proof, evidence; paysan (paysanne) = rural

In bilingual French/English children's books: Grandma Nana: Beloved by all children, Grandma Nana is known for telling wonderful stories and riddles that make everyone laugh. She also has a very special doll, unlike any the children have seen before, that is very close to her heart.

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