The French word for plastered drunk...


For the purposes of this edition (there's always the need for an illustrative photo) Smokey pretends to be a weed. But we're not buyin' it, are we?

sarcler (sar-clay) verb

    : to weed

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

(Note: this story was written one year ago.)

Our neighbor stopped by the other day to drop off a forklift—something we needed for our latest mise-en-bouteille. While Jean-Marie was here, I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions about gardening as he and his wife, Brigitte, have 50 hectares of vines and a few potagers to boot.

"I'm thinking of moving the tomatoes up here," I mentionned to Jean-Marie, as we stood on the patch of grass just above the ruisseau.

"In that case, you'll need to put up un coupe-vent.. a row of thick buissons, for example."

Jean-Marie had a point. After all, we were standing pile-poil in the middle of the Rhône, where the wind blows down the valley like a fleet of jet planes, upending anything that isn't anchored to the ground (or at least deeply-rooted, like our vines... or cemented in, like our home!). The tomatoes would not stand a chance.

Our next stop was the portail, beside which I had been transplanting local flora, including a new, unidentified favorite: a rusty red grass that Mom and I had seen growing, en masse, near the town of Tulette. This vibrant herb would make a lovely contrast to the purple irises and Spanish Lily, two other "locals" that have made their way into our garden.

In a field on the road to Tulette, Mom and I had dug up a few samples of the exotic and colorful herbe... and quickly transplanted it into our garden....

a vineyard near  Tulette





Jean-Marie took one look at our botanical "find"... and chuckled as he identified it:

"C'est Roondoop."


The plant's name did not disappoint! It had just the je ne sais quoi that I would expect for such an exotic variety: Roondoop. I loved it!

"Oui..." Jean-Marie continued. "The grass turns red like that after the herbicide takes effect.

"Grass killer?"

That is when the dots connected: "Roondoop" was really "Roundup"! A désherbant used by certain farmers to control weeds in the vineyard.

No wonder we didn't have any of that "lovely red grass" growing here at our farm...

Just then I remembered Chief Grape, my organic-wine-farmer husband, who was about to come onto the scene and discover some foul play in the near vicinity of his precious raisins!

I quickly went to work yanking out the chemically-loaded grass, discretely shoving it all into the closest container of trash, before I myself got roondedup by Chief Grape.

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French Vocabulary

la mise en bouteille = bottling
le potager
= vegetable garden
le ruisseau
= creek
un coupe-vent
= windbreak, windbreaker
le buisson
= bush
pile-poil = smack, just, exactly
portail = gate
l'herbe (f)
=  grass
je ne sais quoi
= that certain something
un désherbant
= weedkiller
le raisin
= grape

Example sentence: Le sarclage étant plus difficile lorsque la terre est sèche, il est judicieux d'arroser le terrain légèrement une heure avant de commencer. Weeding being the most difficult when the earth is dry, it is a good idea to lightly water the area one hour before beginning. (Suite101)

Here's Smokey—pretending to be a blade of grass—in order to get out of today's chore here at Domaine Rouge-Bleu (we're bottling 6000 units today! I had thought to ask Mr. Smoke to take my place, only he was no where to be found... Meantime, he blended in beautifully with the scenery....) To his left, les "soucis" (marigolds). Above, "la monnaie du pape" (coin flowers). To his right (background), his favorite "snapper"dragons. Now who, pray tell, would want to break a back bottling wine all day when you could lie flat-bellied in a forest of flowers?


Books & Language Tools:
The Ultimate French Verb Review and Practice
Buying a Piece of Paris: A Memoir
Cuthbertson French Verb Wheel



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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety