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A Stork in Alsace (c) Kristin Espinasse 
Storks... and other reminders of the cycle of life... in today's story. The photo above was taken earlier this month, in Alsace, where you'll see fake storks on every corner. (Here, down south, you'll even see the real ones--where cigognes muster on steeples and soar over the grape fields!)

la cigogne (sih gohnh) noun, feminine

    : stork

Listen: Download Cigognes

Les cigognes (Ciconia) sont des oiseaux... migrateurs. Ces échassiers se nourrissent de grenouilles, d'oisillons, de lézards, de petits rongeurs, d'écrevisses, etc. -Wikipedia

Storks are migrating birds. These wading birds nourish themselves with frogs, young birds [fledglings], lizards, little rodents, crayfish, etc...

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

In Pursuit of Summertime

Summer is halfway over and at this rate it will soon disappear altogether! A series of rendezvous have punctuated the weeks, and the calendar is full, pulling us swiftly forth to the harvest, as we lurch towards autumn and beyond. 

I try to slow the days by grasping at the travelling clouds and other artful images which soar on the periphery of my vision: wet dogs returning from the ruisseau--shake-shake-shake, hollyhocks gone to seed, their dry stalks waving in the wind, scattering unborn flowers; threadbare socks swirling on the clothesline...

...and there are those birds that fly south each day, in huge barking flocks. Into a basket I drop the stiff socks and the cardboard shirts gathered from the laundry line. I push flighty tendrils out of my face, as my hair is caressed by the wind (...or is it the collected whoosh of birds' wings?) I look up to the sky--Regarde! Regarde! don't miss this moment! Ecoute! Listen to the migrators -- such sweet, gurgling voices! Like a baby's! Are they martinets? hirondelles? Their strange shouts remind me of newborn puppies, eyes still closed and searching plaintively for their mother's milk.

And are those storks, or cigognes, flying over the canal, below?! I dash for my camera... but it's too late. I will have to play back the poetic flight in my memory. Don't worry... Ça y est! I can see it now... Thank God for memory--and for recording... only, recording the moving images won't make summertime stay put...

"These are not fleeting moments," Nature whispers, having offered so many clever examples of timelessness and unending life. Up to me to recognize the cues....

Yes... I remember now! The stork... the gurgling baby voices... the unborn flowers!

"When it looks as if all is passing..." Nature hints, "...when the birds fly south and the flowers have gone to seed... trust in the wind and in new beginnings!"

I think about all those seeds that the Mistral (with the help of the birds' wings...) is currently scattering. Before long there will be seedlings...! 

"You'll all be back very soon!" I call out. "Yes, you aren't simply passing by... and you won't be gone for long.... I'm no longer rushing after you... but waiting for your return."


 Le Coin Commentaires

Do you find yourself clinging to the coattails of summertime? Your thoughts are welcome in the comments box.


P.S. I finished The Summer of Katya and will read it again in the future -- for the language, for the exotic glimpses of Basque life, for writing inspiration. Order it here!

Meantime, I've ordered another book by Trevanian: The Crazy Ladies of Pearl Street -- as well as a recommendation from Jeannette Walls (whose Glass Castle I loved), who loves the memoir This Boy's Life, by Tobias Wolff. Looking forward to reading these. Please share your favorite, must-read books, in the comments box.

French Vocabulary

le rendezvous = appointment

le ruisseau = stream, gutter

regarde! (regarder) = look!

écoute! (écouter) = listen!

le martinet = swift (bird)

une hirondelle = swallow

la cigogne = stork


More pictures of Alsace in the next Cinéma Vérité edition, which goes out next week to contributing members.


Do you have a minute for a short short story? I had planned on posting this one, written 5 years ago, titled "French Girls Don't Steal"... read it here.

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

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