recensement militaire

couter la peau des fesses

Window Whimsy (c) Kristin Espinasse

As a newbie gardener, I'm wondering about mulch and whether I really need it. The faux flowers in the window above assure me: Nah, not if you want to plant the likes of us! Ah, ok. Thank you very much (and no offense to your charming appearance) but I want real plants. So mulch it is! Read on...

coûter la peau des fesses (koo tay lah poh day fess)

    : (literal translation) to cost the skin off one's arse, or "behind"
    : (figurative translation): to cost an arm and a leg 

* note: today's term should have been the French word for mulch (le paillis)... but I got to thinking: just how many readers are into mulch?

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

"Sitting on Pay Dirt"

I am sitting like a child on a seashore, driving a shovel into the ground between her sunburnt legs. Only, this is not the beach and my legs are not burnt (they're still as white as un cachet d'aspirine).

Here, in the most unsightly part of our garden, I reach down and tug out another dent-de-lion, tossing it into the pail beside me. Only, it isn't really a pail, it is a used wine carton that should have been tossed out by now, along with the growing pile of garden clippings. But instinct suddenly has me saving these biodegradable materials...

I drive the shovel, or spade, into the ground again and again, stabbing at the little islands of unsightly crabgrass that have settled onto the "presto sod": almost two inches of earth built up by the Mistral wind, and gaining volume from the falling leaves from the tree above. Speck by speck, over the ugly, unfinished concrete patio beneath it, the dusty, leaf-chipped mass has grown, topping itself off with an eyesore of thriving weeds!

This is not where I want to be: sitting on presto turf tugging out weeds. I want to be building a garden! but the compost pile that I have begun could take a year to turn into mulch, and mulch, I am learning, is the stuff in which gardens grow! 

But where to find the "black gold" -- besides in the pricey mulch section at the pépinière? Decomposed matter, it turns out, çela coûte la peau des fesses! As I drive the spade into the shallow ground, the answer suddenly wriggles out at me!

A worm. A giant writhing worm! I carefully pull the spade aside and study the evidence. Where there are worms... there is nutrients-rich soil!

I have been looking for mulch everywhere and here it has been all along, right beneath me! not far from the skin on my arse -- and it didn't even cost la peau des fesses

Giddily, I collect what I had thought to be bane of my garden's existence. And though there isn't much of the wormy rich soil... there is enough, after all, for a beginning. 


Le Coin Commentaires
Leave a response to today's word or story, or share a story of your own here in the comments box. And thank you for sharing any and all garden tips with us here as well! We're thirsty as seedlings for garden knowledge!


French Vocabulary

blanc comme un cachet d'aspirine = white as an aspirin

une dent-de-lion* = dandelion

la pépinière = nursery

*Our friend, Newforest, notes: The word "dandelion" comes from "dent-de-lion". Its leaves are so deeply toothed that its name in Old French used to be "Dent-de-lion" ('lion's tooth'), a name reflecting the shape of its leaves. So, why "pissenlit"? The roots and leaves act on the kidneys as a diuretic. So, knowing "pissenlit" means "pee in bed", one can understand the connection with its diuretic properties!

 Bestselling books on the French language:

 1. The Ultimate French Verb Review and Practice  
 2. Exercises in French Phonics

Not so best-selling... but a fun book on the French language!
Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France 



This "lawn chair" seems to be a hit... even with Smokey! Did you see it last time? Click here to find it in the "semer" edition. 


I can't wait to tell you how I (think I) solved mulch problem here... Can you guess what's surrounding these plants--keeping out weeds and keeping in moisture? Piles of it exist here at the farm, where we continue to sit on top of all sorts of yet-to-be-discovered mulch sources!!! P.S.: Don't miss the messy "before" picture of this tomato garden, here (at the end of the "heurter" post).

Capture plein écran 15042011 094839
Please join me in reading this book, which I have just ordered! Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding!


A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

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