ame soeur


DSC_0005Harvesters' Hands: Jacqui (left) and Denise (right). More, in today's story column written by Denise.

main (mahn [silent "n"]) noun, feminine

    : hand

My dictionary has one full page of definitions and expressions for the French word "main"... I will need your help, today, in listing those "main" (hand) terms and idioms that you know. How about if I start... and you continue the list? Here goes:

un coup de main = a helping hand

...Your turn to add a definition or expression via the comments box. Merci!

Audio File & Example Sentence
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J'aurai besoin d'un coup de main pour trouver des expressions françaises.
I will need a helping hand for finding French expressions.


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

Sun-shiny faces greeted me this early morning as I headed out to my car, to take the kids to school.

"How's everybody doing?" I asked our volunteer harvesters, who were walking up the dirt driveway, sack lunches in their hands, beat-up shoes on their feet (I guess they'll have to toss their tennies when they return home). These, our American harvesters, were on their way to the kitchen, to put their food into the refrigerator before returning to the cellar to take orders from my husband, Chef Grape.

"Everything going okay?" I prodded.
"Très bien," they assured me and, unconvinced, I searched their faces for truth or fiction

The women, who had arrived over a week ago, mascara and lip gloss intact, were now wearing nature's glow, solo, on their bare faces, which I try tirelessly to read (Are they really doing okay? Do they want to abandon the grape ship... and swim to St. Rémy, to shop, instead of clip? Will they ever come back to see us again after working 8-hour days in the fields, amid mud, beneath the wet sky, racing against lighting's specter on high?).

One person's treasure... is another's tribulation
I realized this morning that, just as I am guilty of judging people, I am also coupable of judging people's experiences. In either case, I often get it all wrong.

Read about the transcending experience of one of our harvesters who, having pushed her digits to the limit, has a newfound respect for the humble hand, forget intellect. Professor Denise is back to share another installment of her grape experience.

M E S   M A I N S
by Denise Lavoie

While weather conditions have certainly dominated conversation among both harvest workers and vigneron (can anyone say scorching heat or torrential downpours?), I have been preoccupied with more immediate matters -- namely, my hands.


In my routine life back in the States, I don't give my hands much thought. They lead, if truth be told, a relatively sheltered existence. From plenty of warm water and soap, to hand cream and the occasional manicure, my hands want for nothing -- and it shows. They lack callouses or any other marks that might indicate manual labor; in fact, they deal mostly with information processing and dissemination, in one form or another. They are classic, urban, 21st century hands.


Enter, then, the Provençal harvest. My hands have, literally, taken a beating. They are dry, grape-stained, cut, blistered -- they are no longer sheltered. Just as grapes seek the canopy of leaves, my hands are searching for shelter and renewal.

Yet, I am proud of my hands. No matter their outward appearance, they are withstanding this agricultural test. And, just like the grapes they are harvesting, my hands have dug deep and found an energy source they didn't know existed.

My hands -- as well as the rest of me -- are in the meaty middle of harvest.



Denise Lavoie

Denise Lavoie, an American with Quebeçois roots, drinks wine and studies it via a small wine technology program in the Pacific Northwest. She also instructs at the college level. This is her first time visiting France. She met the Espinasses via an introduction from Robert Camuto, after reading his book Corkscrewed.

She can be reached at -- or leave her a note in the comments box.

Note (correction): In Denise's last article I mistook the word "mark" ("indelible mark") for "mask". If you missed that story, please take a minute to read it here.

Puppy Update


The Three Musketeers: They're fierce and mighty... especially with the help of Mother's milk!



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