Friday, July 29, 2011
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
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."
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.
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: 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.
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety
Congratulations for your blog !!!
Merci pour ce voyage en Alsace...
Posted by: Laure B. | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 12:43 PM
I love that counting crows song that goes, "i can't remember all the times I tried to tell myself to hold on to these moments as they pass...." I think it's Long December. It seems lately I've been trying to grab on to fleeting moments...but perhaps I shouldn't. Either they'll come around again or they won't....and there will be plenty of other beautiful things, people etc if I keep my eyes open.
Thanks for the reminder.....I love this website.
Posted by: John | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 12:49 PM
Last week I was making an appointment for two weeks later and the receptionist said "Let's see, that would be August 3" and I said "What, it can't be August already", and the woman standing next to me said "Yep, summer's half over". Time stands still for no one (I think someone else came up with that a while back). The grandchildren are growing up too fast as life just seems to be whizzing by. Soon it will be winter and after this HOT summer it will actually be welcomed by me.
Posted by: Bill in St. Paul | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 12:52 PM
Beautifully written! I really enjoyed this post today along with the photos. I have read The Glass Castle too and loved it.
Posted by: Eileen deCamp | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 01:35 PM
Good morning, Kristin!
I'm going to have to show more self-control. With one click shopping on Amazon, I've been ordering the books you mention in a matter of seconds. The Summer of Katya arrived yesterday.
I'm currently reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I hadn't read it since I was a kid, and I had forgotten how beautifully written it is.
One of my favortite books is The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies, and if you want suspense try Cry To Heaven by Anne Rice. It's about the Castrati in Italy.
I've heard a lot about the Glass House, so I'll click on that sooner or later. :-)
Thanks for the book suggestions!
Posted by: Mindy (Manhattan Beach, CA) | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 02:24 PM
Yes, summer is half over. But in Burgundy it hasn't even arrived, what with the ongoing rain and 17º days. Can't wait to return to Alsace with your photos in CV. Beautiful writing. I can HEAR summer passing in it.
Posted by: Julie F in St. Louis, MO | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 02:25 PM
We're not clinging to THIS summer...it's been hotter than a 2-dollar pistol since June here, with little respite. I am listening to the groan of our tired old air-conditioner as I read that today will be another 100 degree scorcher! Yikes!
Posted by: louis plauche' | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 02:38 PM
I loved your story of the innocence of girls, and was so deeply touched by the simple, MAGNIFICENT, words from your son to you...it brought a tear, as my boys are 34 and 38 and I'm still in love with both. Please, tell us, even in hushed tones, what you thought of the ending in The Summer of Katya.. please? I thought the writing was superb and saw Salies de Bearn in color, right down to the pastries and tea.
Posted by: Tonya McNair | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 03:10 PM
I had the same thought this morning about the fleeting time of our summer here In MN. Now the sky is deep blue and the flowers in the garden are perfect. I try to keep the perfect summer day in my mind. I also finished The Summer of Katya and really enjoyed it--thank you for the tip. Sarah's Key about WWII is a winner too.
Posted by: Jean(ne) P in MN | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 03:38 PM
I am having some trouble with Cinema Verite that I signed up for. Can we email about this?
Posted by: Kevin | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 04:02 PM
Très intéressant! A few years ago, flamingos were used here as garden ornaments. I think storks look more distinguished, but storks carry the meaning here of expecting a child - and we definitely don't want to convey that!
As always, you take beautiful photos and create lovely pictures with your words!
Posted by: mhwebb | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 04:11 PM
Tobias Wolff is one of the finest writers working today: This Boy's Life is his powerful and painful memoir. Brother Geoffrey Wolff penned his own memoir The Duke of Deception and I recommend you read them in that order -- but these aren't summer beach reads, they're wrap yourself in a shawl, put on an extra pair of socks, sit by the fire -- and brace yourself.
Posted by: Anne Winner Anderson | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 05:15 PM
I am enjoying my summer time away from work so much and understand your nostalgia, wanting it to stay around. I wish I could make it last a bit longer. Good books are an important part of my summer too. I just finished Isabel Allende's Island Beneath the Sea and loved it! I will look for the Summer of Katya and the Glass House. Thanks for the beautiful pictures of Alsace today and the book suggestions too!
Posted by: Julie S. from San Diego | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 05:44 PM
Merci, Kristin, for your lovely and inspiring words. I find today's post especially touching. The beauty of fleeting moments (especially summer ones.... the ones I spent in Provence particularly) often haunt me, and I never know if I should just let myself enjoy them, or try to capture them with a camera (which always ruins them a bit...) Your words today made me feel at ease. There will always be more beautiful moments. Nature renews itself year after year, always with the same splendor... and Provence is not going anywhere. I will be back there one day... (when I am done changing diapers all day long!!)
Posted by: Ivana Trevisan | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 06:34 PM
I think the storks congregate on church steeples rather than conglomerate. What do you think?
Posted by: Sally in WA | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 07:19 PM
Beautiful post, thank you Kristin. Your description of the storks and their cries, and all the feelings they stirred up in you, serve as a photograph for us.
Posted by: Teresa | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 07:58 PM
I'm one of your faithful followers (and an avowed francophile as well) in Toronto, Canada, and, yes, I am a writer myself and have blogged about Paris for my Social Media class. Indeed, is summer halfway over? We've had an extreme heat alert in Toronto recently ---heureusement pas comme la canicule an France ---anyway here's a quote from Wallace Stevens: 'The summer night is like a perfection of thought.'
Posted by: Nanyi Albuero | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 08:39 PM
Kristin, thanks for the summer images, they will keep me going through the second half of winter here in Melbourne. I must say, I'm not quite as keen to hold on to winter as you are to hold on to summer! I have been trying to appreciate the 'joys' of winter... Never mind, reading your posts and watching Le Tour is a little like a surrogate summer while I am wrapped in layers and searching for sunshine.
Posted by: Christine Dashper | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 10:19 PM
Here in Freiburg - just across the border from Colmar - the summer definitely seems over. The trees are turning colour already with Autumn leaves flurrying in the cool morning breeze. Temps are low 20's...Early this year.......
Kristin, storks are the emblem of Alsace! Have been for centuries. That's why you see them everywhere. Every church has its stork family AND their droppings all down the sides of the church. There are stork watchers and egg counters and it's all documented very carefully. Unfortunately their numbers are declining (and the birth rate accordingly?). Many legends around these large white storks.....
Posted by: Maureen | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 10:25 PM
When I lived in Alsace as a student in the mid70s, there were still storks...I miss Alsace. Thanks for the reminder.
Posted by: Susan | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 11:06 PM
It's not relevant to today's post. Last year you went to Morocco. Did you reach Marrakech and below?
We're leading a small group out of San Francisco in October and wondered if something in particular caught your attention that we shouldn't miss in the south ...
Merci mille fois, et comme toujours, bravo pour vos récits aussi intéressants que raffinés! nadine
Posted by: nadine goodban | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 11:47 PM
"I am no longer rushing after you...but waiting for your return" What a lovely line as it's shows contentment and serenity and the wisdom of not letting time rush by but enjoying the moment.... :-)
Just for a change in temperature in the "commentary corner" for you poor sweltering ones up in the northern part of the world...OFF TO THE SNOW FOR A FEW DAYS...there that should cool you all down! :-)
Posted by: Gretel | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 11:52 PM
I love the plastic stork on the building! Do you know of any place online that sells them?
Posted by: Razinah | Friday, July 29, 2011 at 11:57 PM
Clinging to the coattails of summertime? You bet! This story so eloquently describes the sense of longing I feel to hang on to summer and so beautifully shares the wisdom of Nature’s reply. I, too, loved the line Gretel mentioned above. Great writing, Kristi, this story feels like a cloud to me…floating so serenely in the summer sky.
Posted by: Stacy, Applegate, Oregon | Saturday, July 30, 2011 at 12:13 AM
Enjoy your writing very much, Kristin, and I have to admit that I enjoy all the comments almost as much ... thanks everyone!
Posted by: JIm, Carlsbad California | Saturday, July 30, 2011 at 01:45 AM
Today's post was pure poetry. Thank you.
Posted by: Martine | Saturday, July 30, 2011 at 02:00 AM
Have you read "The Invisible Bridge"? It takes place in Paris and Budapest during WWII. A great read!
Enjoy what's left of summer - it has flown by (like a stork)!
Posted by: [email protected] | Saturday, July 30, 2011 at 02:18 AM
Simply and eloquently beautiful, chere Kristin! Merci for sharing the world through your adoring eyes. We are all the better for it.
Posted by: Candy (almost back in CO!) | Saturday, July 30, 2011 at 05:34 PM
Kristin, you are a poet, as well as a great photographer. The pictures are lovelier each day, and your description of the migrating birds. But don't forget Smokey Dokey and Mama Breuse. My hollyhocks are still full tilt, like overdressed ladies. Love from Sara
Posted by: Sara Larsen | Saturday, July 30, 2011 at 07:27 PM
A delightful piece of 'pastorale' - reminded me of Joanne Harris (Chocolat/Blackberry Wine) - another of my favourite authors. Nice to see in the PS what you are reading too. Writers need to read a lot before finding their own voice. I intersperse reading fiction with non-fiction (mostly philosophy, psychology, history, other cultures) and have just finished reading Dorothy Rowe's 'Wanting Everything: The Art of Happiness'. I thought of you when reading the following piece and wanted to share it with you:
"...Literature is about truth, the writer's own truth.If you do not write about your own truth, then what you write, no matter how cleverly expressed, is not literature. When you write about your own truth you cannot be wrong." That's what you do! Bravo! Encore!
Posted by: Robyn Daniels | Sunday, July 31, 2011 at 05:03 AM
If you like memoirs, and it seems like you do, you could try A Fortunate Life by AB Facey. Written by Bert Facey when he was very elderly, he looks back and reflects on a life of hardship as a fortunate life. Probably one of my all time favourites.
Written with humility, dignity and courage
Posted by: Jill in Sydney | Monday, August 01, 2011 at 12:32 AM
Summer flies by too fast! That's why I have discover that traveling/vacationing in late September extends the time for new discoveries and relaxation. But I was shocked this weekend to realize that August was right around the corner!
Posted by: Suzanne, Monroe Twp., NJ | Monday, August 01, 2011 at 06:46 PM
We seem to wish for another season when the one in which we are is either too hot or too cold. I was in Mexico for the last 2 weeks of July and it was extremely hot and humid (but I knew that before going) and lo and behold, it was the same in Connecticut during that time. Now that August is here, I have a whole month to enjoy my summer here and hopefully an extended summer in Virginia in September. Spring, summer and fall are my favorite seasons.
I read lots of books in the summer - many different authors - including Cara Black.
Posted by: Kathleen | Monday, August 01, 2011 at 10:07 PM
I was intrigued by your mention of The Summer of Katya by Trevanian and so ordered the book from our local library as an interloan. It arrived today, and I finished it in one setting - thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you for the recommendation. Loved it for the Basque culture, the chill of the unanticipated and haunting ending.
Posted by: Linda R. | Tuesday, August 02, 2011 at 06:45 AM