Friday, January 14, 2011
Along the steep zigzagging path to the sea in Sicily, we stopped to peer in to this tiny chapel. The doors were locked but we stole glances all the same.
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
(Continued from the previous story: "Switch-back")
On New Year's Day I was walking along a steep and slippery path to the sea, one very much like life itself: get past the obstacles--both real and perceived--and cross the finish line in victory! You might wonder just what reward awaits on the other side of the broken ribbon... but, consider: Life is not a race and the prize may just lie in the act of taking it all in stride, at a peaceful pace.
Currently I strode, in panic mode, behind my husband of 16 years. I wanted serenity and I knew, by instinct, that Peace is what happens when you give in and quit fighting life's current. For the first ten years in France, I'd swum against the stream, it is only recently... since following my husband's dream... that I've begun to float.
"Ça va Mon Amour?" Everything okay, Love? There were two ways to answer the question; similarly, there are two ways to face the new year: by caving in (to fear) or by venturing out (by faith).
I ventured a "Tout va bien!" and, voilà, we swiftly rounded an uncertain switchback, and landed on the seashore.
As soon as my husband's feet hit sea level, he was off! Scrambling over the giant rocks beneath the seawall to kiss the salty waters beyond (in the end, he opted for a splash-on-the-face "bath" and not full immersion!).
I was still standing in the road when a foot-dragging dog limped past me. The dog seemed to live in the modest house at the back of the parking lot, which faced the sea. My eyes followed the crippled creature to an empty, industrial lot, farther on where thousands of birds were gathering.
Amid the commotion, a figure began to appear from within the frenzy of feathers. It was a man! The man, of a certain age, was holding a 20 liter bucket in each hand, the source of so much excitement on the part of the birds.
I followed in the dog's tracks... drawn to the stranger's simple act of charity. Why would a man lug such a heavy burden, then stand still as an altar... only to risk being capsized by a hungry flock of seed thieves?
The answer was written on the stranger's face: for the joy in giving!
I leave you with photos of "Antonio" and his dog "Lupo". And who said there is no prize at the finish line? I do believe this man and his dog and "their" birds of peace were the reward for following the path of life, for trying--one step forward, two back... to take fears and doubts in stride.
Le Coin Commentaires / Comments Corner
Corrections and comments are most welcome. Click here to leave a message.
Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words:
Click to Download the MP3 file
L'homme était en train de nourrir les colombes.
The man was feeding the doves.
Please help me to resolve a technical issue by trying out the audio feature, above, and then giving feedback on the following question (those reading via email may need to click over to the blog to see the question and to vote)? To comment on this question, thanks for using the comments box (click here).
Look closely and you will see the man in the photo, above...
I thought they were pigeons... but Antonio pointed out the colombes....
Yes -- doves!
What a lovely man and dog -- and a flock of fans to prove it!
Do you have a minute to read the story "Tourterelle" or "turtledove": it's short--under 200 words... and you'll learn the French word for "lovebird"! Click here.
Exercises in French Phonics is " a great book for learning French pronunciation", "useful and practical", "high quality material, good value for your money" --Amazon customer reviews. Order a copy here.
A Message from Kristi: Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.
Ways to contribute:
1. Paypal or credit card
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety
It's strange that the sound file did not work when I clicked on it as it's an mp3 file that is supposed to be handled by (on my computer) Windows Media Player. I started Windows Media and had it play the url and it worked fine. I then switched from Internet Explorer to Foxfire (another browser) and it worked fine with Foxfire.
So I think people need to tell you what browser and version they are using and if the sound file worked or not.
Loved the picture of the little chapel. If you travel in the back roads of France you can find a lot of these rural chapels that some unknown person is tending to.
Posted by: Bill in St. Paul | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 01:10 PM
Kristin, this doubtful journey you made down the curving path to the sea is a metaphor for life itself. We know so little, yet think we do, about where life is going. Your wondering wandering, that is, your ability and willingness to question (even if it takes the guise of "worrying"), seems to me to be a most positive attribute. My concern is with the masses who are easily led, who are unable to think/question/"worry" for themselves and believe the blathering that is spouted out each day by the media, by the government, etc.
It is in questioning and wondering and switching back and forth between all that life offers up that we make the journey truly our own. I love, love that at the end of this path, Antonio, les colombes and dear faithful Lupo were found.
Alas, I was thinking, (hoping?!) for a shot of Nature Man frolicking in the freezing surf, a la total emersion, in a New Year's Day Dip. Perhaps next year. I look forward to another year of following you through life in France. Great blog!
Posted by: Pat Cargill | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 02:09 PM
Uh oh. The MP3 didn't work for me. I am using an iPad. I will check later if it works on the computer (Mac).
Hastings on Hudson, NY
Posted by: Susan | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 02:15 PM
What wonderful photos of the man and doves. That's one quick camera you have. And the sound file worked fine on my Mac using Firefox.
Posted by: Julie F in St. Louis, MO | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 02:22 PM
Browser = Firefox/Mozilla
Computer = MacBook
Great sound, using ITunes MP3!
Posted by: Mair | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 02:23 PM
It worked fine on Mozilla Firefox. I loved the stories and the photos, too.
Posted by: Jeanine Sasser | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 02:23 PM
I use Internet Explorer or Firefox and play the sound files/mp3's in Winamp. They work fine for me. They are the original reason I signed up with French Word a Day! Now the stories and pictures are terrific added attractions! S :)
Posted by: Susie | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 02:37 PM
The mp3 file worked fine for me, using the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser and the Quicktime player.
Posted by: Jack Sigler | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 02:43 PM
Loved the story and your photos. Your husband loves his adventures and you learn each time you go with him. The doves give meaning to this man' life.
Posted by: anne | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 02:49 PM
I was so hoping to read a desription of Jean Marc diving into the wintery waters, with you following...That would have been seizing the day. But perhaps we would have lost the sense of peace which the doves symbolize...
Posted by: tim napier | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 02:50 PM
I may comment on the posting, which I haven't yet read, later.
The audio feature doesn't work AT ALL. You click, and nothing happens.
If you can go back to the previous method, including offering WAV as well as MP3 files, it should work.
Thanks for asking us about this.
Posted by: Marianne Rankin | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 03:12 PM
It worked on Firefox but not on Chrome on a MAC. Love reading your posts!
Posted by: Saralee Leary | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 03:16 PM
What a lovely story! And such a sweet dog. I really enjoy your photos and snippets of life in Europe.
Posted by: Cyndy | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 03:23 PM
Interesting - I went back to the "my husband's dream" post of 2007, and the sound file in it worked fine! Maybe something has changed in your setup since then. Nothing has changed at my end.
Pat, you made some great points, and I like the phrase "wondering wandering."
In regard to the post, Antonio, Lupo, and the doves reminds me of the scene in "Mary Poppins" when "every day to the steps of St. Paul's, the little old bird woman comes." And she feeds the birds. We have a bird feeder in our back yard, which I can see from our home office as I write. I enjoy watching the birds. In addition to bird seed, I sometimes give them leftovers, such as bread, cranberries, etc.
By now, you have several years' worth of blog posts, and it must be a great record of your family and friends and all of your adventures.
Posted by: Marianne Rankin | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 03:24 PM
Internet service=Comcast, Browser=Firefox, MS XP
It came up in my Windows Media Player, although I have downloaded the WAV versions in the past. Your husband's voice fades a little in some spots, perhaps he turned away from the microphone to gaze adoringly at you?
Posted by: Dorothy Maluck-Egeland | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 03:28 PM
Enjoyed your excellent use of metaphors in today’s story! The “steep and slippery path to the sea” with obstacles and the “broken ribbon” at the end are great. Much better than sliding down the banister of life and avoiding the splinters that I would have probably used. Your ribbon at the end is much better than a banister post also. Ha!
Posted by: Herm in Phoenix, AZ | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 03:43 PM
No problems with the audio on my Mac. Though I speak French fairly fluently, it's especially nice to hear a native speaker's accent.
Posted by: Ann | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 03:48 PM
I apologize for nitpicking, but … well, I can't help it. (And no, I didn't miss the point of the story, which was lovely.) But pigeons are doves. Two different names for the same types of birds.
The sound files have always worked for me, using Safari on my Mac.
Thank you for another nice start to the day.
Posted by: Bruce T. Paddock | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 04:14 PM
Worked fine for me using Windows Media Player on Firefox. Great to hear a "real" French accent.
Posted by: L. Robertson | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 04:15 PM
The photos were awesome! My resident birdwatcher (AKA - Husband) tells me that what we call pigeons are also known as rock doves. They are Columba livia, while what most people call Doves (ie. Ground Doves) are Columbina passerina.
The audio is working really well. I just wish that there was visual as well, since seeing the way in which the mouth moves can really make it easier to replicate a word or phrese, especially in French.
It's only 231 days until we're back in the place that we consider to be Heaven on Earth (AKA - Provence). Hope to be able to help with the vendange thie September.
Posted by: AlpillesGal | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 04:16 PM
I never have trouble accessing the audio file, but I always like to look at the words while listening, and it's a little difficult flipping between the audio page and the written page. If there was a way to combine the two, that would be great.
Thank you for bringing sunshine to my day every time I receive your email!
Sunshiney and cold (42 degrees)
Posted by: Myra | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 04:18 PM
On a Mac with the Camino browser . . . click, play no problem.
We had some doves occupy a tree outside our bedroom window last summer. For small birds they sure can wake you up in the morning. Their cousins the pigeons seem to prefer to keep one up at night. One man's pigeon could be another man's dove!
Posted by: Frank Levin | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 04:19 PM
I tested the audio on my Dell Inspiron, using Firefox, and it worked just fine.
Thanks for your blog. It's the only one I follow on a regular basis.It's fun to compare "French" french with the one spoken here in North America!
Posted by: Linda Comire | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 05:01 PM
Antonio, the pigeon and dove carer, the man with thousands of feathered friends ... Oh! such a dear man! What a perfect encounter at the end of your tortuous journey to the sea, what a blessing! Dark tunnels, switchbacks are but living allegories for so many of us. Thank God for your enthusiastic companion, a step ahead, and for Antonio's love and care of the birds when you reached the freedom of the sea.
For me, these last 4 weeks were quite different from 'the usual' and seemed to have lasted forever. I have hardly been around my laptop and I have a lot of catching up to do with FWAD. I have at least read the 3 parts of this story ... and I re-read again this 'finale' & admired the photos... Mille mercis.
Kristin, what a great way to start the year! I think this is a New Year's day you will never ever ever forget. You might like to 'use' this journey to the sea in a future... "book". Think about it!
We all have, I know, a whole year in front of us, for a new adventure in our life, or maybe, some re-thinking and re-adjustments, some exciting creative activities - all that without having to fly thousands of miles away or spend a fortune. Not all of us will end up writing of a book, of course, but I think you certainly could - a book with simple ideas, stunning images, and colourful words- while others will produce exquisite recipes, will learn a new skill, or will enjoy their own creations in harmony with ... la terre (earth), les plantes, ... la laine (wool) ..., la peinture (paint)... le bois (wood) ... and "bien entendu", with a lot of care, perseverance, flair... and Love!
PS -1- sound file did not work for me but I didn't spend too much time to find out why or what I should do.
PS -2- being so near the sea, didn't you see (and heard...)any seagulls?
only pigeons and doves?
Posted by: Newforest | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 05:15 PM
appreciated your simple story. Lovely. The world needs more Antonio's and Lupo's!
Posted by: alicia brown | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 05:17 PM
Works fine on my Mac - Firefox browser. On another note entirely, I *GASP* missed wishing you a Happy Birthday last month. Mea culpa - my calendar broke.:-)
Much love from snowy NY,
Posted by: L. M. Davies | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 05:19 PM
Sound works in Internet Explorer and Windows Media but not Google Chrome.
Posted by: Susie | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 05:28 PM
Audio was fine on Mac using Safari 5.0.3
Posted by: Janet | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 05:36 PM
I love the sound files and listen to every one three or four times. Recently I have found the volume a bit low and I have had to adjust the volume control on my speakers.
Posted by: Helen | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 05:54 PM
The audio file worked today on my Mac but in the past it has not!!
How frustrating computers can be!!
Thanks for the great writing, as usual!!
Posted by: Cecily | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 05:55 PM
The sound was perfect !
And lovely colombes !
Posted by: Nicole lidji | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 06:13 PM
I have a Mac & had no problem at all
Posted by: Nancy | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 06:29 PM
That is such a gorgeous story! The man and the dog and the birds, yes, but your introduction is exactly what I've been thinking about lately.
As in: stop strangling dreams by pursuing them to death and trying to impose MY structure on them, and instead just shut up, sit down and let the universe show me what's up, what's out there, what my dream SHOULD look like.
I'm having these internal conversations with myself snuggled in front of the roaring space heater in layers of woolens and blankets - wish I could have had them on a seaside trek in Sicily!
Posted by: Amy Kortuem | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 06:43 PM
Kristi, such a lovely story and beautiful message! What a wonderful way to start off your new year. The prize received in trusting and carrying on, despite our minds imagined fears and resistance, is so very sweet and precious. I walked one such path yesterday. My reward was an awe-inspiring moment in the glory of nature: sunshine sparkling through the rain which shone like huge diamonds on one side of me; on the other, the most beautiful rainbow. A lesson I revisit over and over :)
Posted by: Stacy, Applegate, Oregon | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 08:55 PM
FABULOUS pictures of birds in flight.
The sound file works fine but the recorded volume (at my usual listening volume setting) has been low for several months.
I use a PC/Internet Explorer but I download the file before listening. In IE, right-click, Save Target As ..., which I put in my French folder. Then you can play it in your favorite player at any time. Windows Media Player opens on my old PC; on the new one I'm converting to, it doesn't, but I'm thinking that's a setting I can adjust.
Posted by: Lee Isbell | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 08:56 PM
The sound file is a very important feature of your blog. I
suggest that the speakers pause between the word and the
sentence so that the listener may say the word out loud after
the speaker before he or she begins the sentence. I always
benefit from listening to the spoken word; it's an essential
element for learning a living language.
Keep up the good work,
Joanne. Oakland, CA
Posted by: Joanne | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 09:54 PM
I use Explorer and Firefox with QuickTime and the video was just fine. Your husband has a wonderful voice.
I am new to your site. Mon amie en le cours du soir a Beverly Hills Adult School donner votre web site information. J'adore le web site!!
I was in Lussan, France last summer and your photos and stories make me miss being there.
Alors, merci beaucoup pour ca!!!
Los Angeles, CA
Posted by: Lisa Adams | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 10:06 PM
"...since following my husband's dream..."
What beautiful, sweet words. My husband is applying to law school, but we are BOTH going--joint venture that it is! I have sacrificed many a ballet class and french lesson to edit endless personal essays and applications, as well as care for our toddler so my husband could steal in a few more hours studying for the LSAT (not to mention writing his thesis!).
And now, here we are, six months later, with no idea where we'll be in another six months...But now my Stephen's dreams taste sweeter than my own with each step his become a reality! I get to take part in his joy, and dare I say, it's double his! (Giving indeed beats receiving.)
In a world of women fighting to be something, and many times fighting to be better than men, it is a wondrous thing to hear the words, "since following my husband's dream."
Following is a blessed thing when it is in the wake of a good man's path.
Posted by: Audrey Richter | Friday, January 14, 2011 at 10:41 PM
when I typed -> writing of a book,
read -> writing a book.
by -> stunning 'images' I meant stunning 'descriptions', written in a very picturesque way, which might be poetic, witty, colourful, sensitive, in harmony with general mood & feelings...
Posted by: Newforest | Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 12:06 AM
the mp3 worked fine on my Mac Powerbook with Safari browser. Love the words pictures and stories.
Posted by: Shelley Longmire | Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 12:55 AM
I didn't have any trouble listening to the mp3 on my MacBook Pro using Safari. I was just unconsciously - well maybe consciously - noting that more people use a Mac then a PC. Interesting.
Love the pictures and the story: a new year - new adventures and the willingness to explore new territories.
I have lots of mourning doves that visit my bird feeder, along with many other types of birds. I had to dig a path through the snow to fill my feeders. I love to watch the birds as the jockey for space on the posts and then take their food and go to a nearby tree or bush and crack open the shell. The ground around the feeders is so littered with safflower shells and in the summer they start to sprout.
Posted by: Kathleen | Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 01:25 AM
Sometimes it is hard to take life in stride, but it looks like you are headed in the right direction. You give hope to us all, that you are living a dream and following along with Jean-Marc in his.
Posted by: buffy | Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 03:12 AM
It works perfectly on my pc, using Internet Explorer and VLC player.
Posted by: Harry Duckworth | Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 04:26 AM
Thanks also for your ever-readable stories and apologies for sounding like the teacher but, with regard to the excitement of the doves/pigeons, I believe that you meant to say "on the part of". It looks like the birds needed no-one to be excited for them.
Harry Duckworth, New Zealand.
Posted by: Harry Duckworth | Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 04:30 AM
The audio file always "comes through" perfectly on my imac using safari;I especially look forward to it in your postings. Mille mercis!
Posted by: Cynthia Lewis | Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 04:48 AM
No, sorry. I am using firefox and it won't download but opens another blank tab. Right clicking does not give me the open to "save..."
Curious in that it works for most people.
Regards, Paul, Langwarrin, Victoria, Australia.
Posted by: Paul | Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 01:57 PM
Hi Kristin, having just posted I have fiddled with my settings in Firefox. Under Tools>Options>Applications I had to change the (audio/mpeg) option to "download". All fixed. Now works. Hope this helps.
Posted by: Paul, Australia | Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 02:10 PM
I use Internet Explorer and RealPlayer and the clipped played just fine.
Posted by: Terry Miller | Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 04:52 PM
You feedback on the sound files is so helpful. I'm learning so much and hope to be able to improve things in the near future! Anyone reading the comments should find some great tips, too, and be able to solve some of the problem... hopefully.
Gotta run -- time to take Max to his basketball game. Thanks so much for the grammar help and edits, too, and thank you for such positive feedback on the story!
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 05:11 PM
Let me add to the many comments already that your story was very well done and how nice it was to be able to see the photos of Antonio making the most of his life.
Posted by: Geary Arceneaux | Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 06:50 PM
Bravooo!!! the audio feature with Marc's voice is F A N T A S T I C!!!!! The brightest spot when I open my e-mails is FRENCH WORD A DAY and Kristin's stories.
Million kudos to you! and mille mercis!!
Posted by: Marti Hinman | Sunday, January 16, 2011 at 05:50 PM
Until recently I got audio from a box which appeared in the corner of the screen allowing me to read the words on the blog while listening and also to replay.
This has now changed and I receive another screen (I-Tunes) where you cannot see the blog nor replay without starting over. I hope you can reinstate the features you had before or advise me if I need to do something different.
Posted by: Jane | Monday, January 17, 2011 at 02:15 AM
I loved what Audrey Richter wrote: "Following is a blessed thing when it is in the wake of a good man's path." The opposite is surely true, too.
Posted by: Marianne Rankin | Monday, January 17, 2011 at 02:42 PM
Marianne, I, too, loved what Audrey wrote. Also, Marianne, I have also been thinking about your difficulty in accessing the sound file (ironically I cannot access it either... Saralee and Susie mentioned not being able to access via Chrome... which is what I use... this explains my case. I'm wondering: are you using Chrome? Also, many people brought up the fact that it was necessary to update their audio software. Which program are you using?
Pat: working on a "Nature Man Frolicking" photo...
Dorothy, your note about why the sound file must be fading brings a smile.
Newforest: I have been thinking of you and am so happy to see your note. RE future books: I have taken the pressure off and, for the moment, will share stories via the blog. Ouf! What a relief this is! RE seagulls: I don't remember seeing any...
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Monday, January 17, 2011 at 02:54 PM
Re: Seagulls. If there were any, you would have heard them as they can be so unbelievably noisy! They may not mix with Antonio's flock (???)... Hmmm, there would be fighting if they did. Maybe they turn up once the pigeons and doves have gone away and they are happy enough to grab whatever bits of food remain on the ground (???)
will send you an e-mail.
Here in Dorset, we're lucky today. What a change from last week! No rain and.... the sky is blue - but it's still cold and "la terre du jardin" is still very wet indeed! My cold is hanging on and the pressure in my head is painful. I'll miss a walk in the forest and the nearby Highcliffe-on-sea won't see me today! I will simply get some fresh air from my garden, check the state of all the bird feeders... and say hello to the hamamelis in bloom. Will my blocked nose be able to detect the supreme perfume of the sarcococca by my front door?
Bye for now
and Bonne journée!
Posted by: Newforest | Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 02:26 PM
The sound file worked fine for me on my PC with windows media. Thank you for your beautiful words!
Posted by: Amy | Wednesday, February 02, 2011 at 10:58 PM