sanglot: Christmas time and tears


In the town of Nyons: Persimmons aspiring to be potirons.

In children's books: Oxford First French Words

potiron (po-tee-rohn) noun, masculine

    : pumpkin

French definition* of "le potiron": "plante potagère voisine de la courge"
("vegetable plant, related to squash")

*From Le Petit Larousse

Do you know of any "potiron" terms or expressions... or would you like to help translate the quote (below)? Perhaps you have a pumpkin story to share? Anyone care to discuss the differences between a potiron and "une citrouille"? Feel free to voice your "potiron pensées" in the comments box, for all to see.

Je préférerais m'asseoir sur un potiron et le posséder bien à moi que d'être à plusieurs sur un coussin de velours.  --Henry David Thoreau, from "Walden"

Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the French word "potiron" and read the quote: Download Potiron . Download Potiron

The last time Mr. Delhomme (senior) stopped by, he looked over to the picnic table... and sighed. "Well, what are you waiting for?"

I stared back at the giant pumpkin that he had given my mom weeks ago. (Or did she swipe it from Monsieur's potiron* patch, just below?) No, the citrouille* was too heavy, even for her, to swipe, or to lift, or to drag undeterred.

"Elle va le peindre,"* I announced. "Nature morte,"* I offered, explaining Mom's "still life" plans for one imposing potiron.
"Bah!" Monsieur's replied. His eyes scanned the countryside, where real country women once resided -- before the artists and writers decamped. In their funny minds, vegetables were no longer edibles -- vegetables were vedettes!*

As for Monsieur's question "What are you waiting for," I pondered that one for few weeks more. Meantime, the old pumpkin, cut from the earth's cord, remained on that table, but a somber gourd...

And then my Grandmother Audrey didn't answer her phone over at a Salt Lake City nursing home. Instead, another woman's voice declared:

"The number you have dialed has been disconnected".

*     *     *

A pumpkin in my throat, I dialed up my Uncle Rusty and soon, in the background, that familiar family atmosphere whistled and hummed. What are you all doing?

"Aunt Betty is making pies."
"Yep. Nine pies!"
"NINE PIES?" I pictured my aunt Betty at the kitchen stove. I remembered her long hair that, as a child, I loved to brush and those delicate lace-making fingers, from which she also produced handmade peluches.*

"What kind of pies?" I asked, easing into the atmosphere of yesteryear.
"Oh, pumpkin, banana, cherry..."
"So you are all getting together... with Grandma?..."
That's when the voice of reassurance sounded. "I think I'll swing by [the nursing home] and steal her for the day... if she'll quit fighting with Aunt Reta."

"Fighting? Fighting!" I giggled. "She's fighting!!!" I imagined our occasionally ornery Audrey, grand-mère extraordinaire. She may be fighting with Aunt Reta, but she is also taking her daughter's, advice: to squeak! "It is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease!" Grandma had shared Aunt Reta's tip during our last conversation. That explains the disconnected telephone. (All that squeaking got Grandma transferred to a more suitable room!)

And so, on a very light note, I hung up the phone... but not before Uncle Rusty offered to send instructions for pumpkin pie. He seemed to read my thoughts ("Who me, make pumpkin pie?) and his humble answer, 'We just follow the instructions on the can" was all the encouragement needed.

Soon things picked up round here. "Still life" started to spark and that old, cold pumpkin found its way into the warm hearth. Fueled by memories of family holidays with a feisty grand-mère,* and aunts and uncles who show they still care--I marched out to the picnic table, picked up that potiron and transformed the Gallic gourd into a piece of the precious past: spiced up and sweetened for the present moment, at last.

* * *
PS: In addition to soup and some pumpkin seed snacks, I made the pumpkin pie! Monsieur Delhomme's son is coming for dinner and I just can't wait for word to get back to old Delhomme that the "artful" pumpkin (after lending itself to a still life painting... then a story) went on to become a tart (as if artists and writers didn't have a country woman's smarts!).

*   *   *
I once wrote a story about a French turkey and shared a few of the ingredients in my mother-in-law's cognac riddled "farce" recipe (!). Thanks for checking out the chapter "Dinde" in my book (which doubles as a great stocking stuffer, hint hint).

Comments, corrections, and suggestions are always welcome in the comments box.

le potiron (m) = pumpkin; la citrouille (f) = pumpkin; elle va le peindre = she's going to paint it; la nature (f) morte = still life (painting); une vedette (f) = movie star; une peluche (f) = plush toy, stuffed animal; la grand-mère (f) = grandmother

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