Some people like to head to the flea market on Sundays, whilst others are just itching to pick grapes! More in today's story column. (Photo: antique metal sign at a brocante in Piolenc. The owner says this one is not for sale.)
Sure, you know the French word "dimanche", but do you know some of the interesting expressions that go with it? Hint: there's one in today's story... and a few others that you yourself might know... and share via the comments box! Here, I'll start the ball rolling with this one: "du dimanche" refers to
someone who practices an activity as an amateur (ex: le jardinier du dimanche = amateur gardener). Let's see your "dimanche" expressions, here.
dimanche (dee-monsh) noun, masculine
Audio File: listen to today's word: Download dimanche.wav. Download dimanche.mp3
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When you marry into a French wine-making family, the harvest never ends. Though we finished picking our grapes here in Sainte Cécile almost two weeks ago, Uncle Jean-Claude's grapes, over in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, are still hanging around.
Saturday morning, 7:30 am: fueled with peanut butter and confiture* sandwiches, Max, Jackie, Jean-Marc, Jacques, and I each take our own vine row before advancing slowly down the narrow slope. The chilly autumn air has some of us cursing under our breaths, while others of us are marveling at how breath can be an objet d'art.*
I study the great puffs of artful breath and think about how crisp autumn air is not such a bad thing: it's fun to watch, like clouds, and it puts that bit of spring into our steps. That said, I am still lagging behind the other pickers, including my son and my daughter... until I have a stroke of good luck--and hit pay dirt! "Pay dirt" in the form of a long stretch of grape-bare vines! This might not be pay dirt for a winemaker (no grapes = no wine), but for a lagging picker it is just the boost she needs to catch up with the others.
I skip past the old, empty vines, bucket swinging from my arm. "C'est dimanche! La-la-la!..C'est dimanche! Each time I pass an empty grapevine I declaire it "Sunday!"
I pass by three more empty grapevines: "Dimanche!...Dimanche!... Dimanche! La-la-la! C'est dimanche!" Soon, I've caught up, level with the others pickers in their rows.
My brother-in-law, Jacques, looks up from behind a tangle of vine branches and the expression on his face says, "Qu'est-ce qu'elle a, celle-là?!*"
"Don't you know?" I say, pointing out my vine row with a sweep of the arm, "Over here (in my row) it's Sunday; a week of Sundays!" Jacques looks confused; after all, it is Saturday morning and not dimanche.
"Uncle Jean-Claude tells me that, in the old days, when harvesters arrived at an empty vine (no grapes = no work to do) they declared that one 'Dimanche,' a day off!"
Like that, I traipse past my brother-in-law, who is tangled in the vine before him. Noticing all those hard-to-reach grapes, I add. "Looks like you're at Monday: a long way away from "the weekend"!"
And--la-la-la!--I'm off, bucket swinging from my arm, artful breath making patterns in the sky beside me.
la confiture (f) = jam; un objet (m) d'art = work of art; qu'est-ce qu'elle a, celle-là? = what's gotten in to her?
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