etre tout sucre, tout miel

le frisson

Librairie (c) Kristin Espinasse
A black-and-white photo for a change and some frissons in today's edition. (Picture taken five years ago in Brignoles, during a moody balade with Mama Jules, who was trying to wean herself off cigarettes (or Nicorette, or both...). Me: Look, Mom! A bookstore. Mom: Grrrrh! The bookworm could not be distracted, not even by books or art supplies!) 

le frisson (frih-sohn)

    : shiver; shudder, thrill

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wav file

Je me demande si, comme moi, elle ressent des frissons en écoutant cette chanson?
I wonder if, like me, she has chills listening to this song.

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

As I drive my daughter to her friend's to stay the week, I try to put aside any feelings of sadness or annoyance or frustration. Just what am I feeling as she sits beside me--dans un monde à elle?

At once plugged in and tuned out, she is hearing the music but not hearing me. Not that I am talking.

No, I don't want to start nagging or manipulating. I don't want to say "Why do you put on earphones when you get into the car?" (nag) or "If only you would make an effort..."

Je prends sur moi. I cannot control my daughter but I can control my feelings. As I let go, I look over to the young lady beside me.

Her wheat-colored hair is now shoulder-length. I notice how the new cut, a "carré", makes her look 18... four years older. She is not wearing too much make-up. She does look lovely. She is a lovely young lady—even with earphones and wires sticking out of her ears.

I look past Jackie to the fluorescent yellow field that is speeding beside her, beyond the window. The colza is in bloom! 

"Look!" I say, unable to control excitement. 

"Quoi?" comes the deadpan response.

Too late. We've driven past the magnificent blooming field. Tant pis.

"Qu'est-ce que c'est?"


I feel my daughter's irritation and my own prickly feelings are back.

It is a two-hour drive from our house in the Vaucluse to the friend's house in the Le Gard. I am borrowing my husband's car so that I can "profiter" from the GPS... only the onboard navigator does not seem to be working. Instead of a bold line indicating the chemin, there are many bold lines indicating many chemins. I begin to voice my frustration.

"Follow the road signs," Jackie suggests.

I know her down-to-earth suggestion is a reasonable one, but I've suddenly lost faith in non-technology. 

My daughter takes off her earphones and connects her iPod to the stereo unit (how she's found the connection is beyond me. I still can't figure out where the station dial is—make that the button. Everything seems to have a button in this pushy new world).

"Ça t'embête?" Jackie asks. No, it doesn't bother me that she wants to connect her mp to the dashboard. At least we can listen to the music together—the added advantage being that I now have a live navigator:

"Follow that sign..." Jackie says.


"Straight on now..."

"Merci, ma fille!"I say, in my best impression of John Wayne-comes-to-France: May-YER-see-maah-FEE-YUH!

My girl laughs and the life inside of her is my joy... for a precious second. She returns to her technical world, lavishing all of her attention to one of two metal-and-wire devices: her iPod or her mobile phone, where she is busy texting friends.

When the song "One Cup of Coffee" comes on, I enjoy belting it out:

One cup of coffee, then I'll go...
One cup of coffee, then I'll go...

My daughter perks up. "Do you like Reggae?" 

"It's not my favorite, but I don't mind a little of it."

Jackie laughs, only, once again our connection short-circuits... one of us is back to texting, the other is looking out the window wondering what this world is coming to? And where, amidst all of these wires and wireless connections will we meet again, my daughter and I?

 "Tiens, you'll like this one," Jackie offers, unexpectedly.

As I hear the familiar lyrics, goosebumps begin to rise... Suddenly my skin is electrified. The first four words are delivered so slowly—yet my emotions burst open:

I would only be in your way
So I'll go, but I know
I'll think of you every step of the way

I begin to wonder what the French word is for these goosebumps and if my daughter is feeling them too? Does she understand the words, wishes that I wish for her?

I hope life treats you kind
And I hope you have all you've dreamed of
And I wish to you joy and happiness
But above all this I wish you love

"Là, elle va se gaver." Jackie warns me that Whitney is about to drive it home...

And I will always love you
I will always love you

Jackie and I listen to eternal truth as delivered by the late Whitney Houston, whose words transcend the virtual or technical world, they are on our skin and somewhere beneath, or within.

I have an urge to know whether or not my daughter is feeling these truths, as I am feeling them (I've got to know: does she feel goosebumps too?), only I do not want to bore her with sentimentality. I've got to let go, to live and let live—to let the generation gap do its thing as it did for the generations before me. We are just an ordinary mother and daughter facing an ordinary gap...

...and yet, something extraordinary is about to bridge that gap.... a universal truth—one that it is encapsulated inside each and every goosebump, or frisson. Only in order for her to know that truth—she's got to feel it.

And just as grace would have it, I am spared of questioning my daughter... for her next remark is proof that Love is the universal truth governing every lively cell in her body:

"Maman," Jackie looks over at me."Est-ce que tu as des frissons aussi?"

 Comments Corner
Comments, corrections, and stories of your own are welcome here, in the comments box.

  La Ciotat Kristin Espinasse

                         When she was little... and I was big in her eyes.

dans un monde à elle = in a world of her own

je prends sur moi = I'll get a grip on myself

un carré = blunt cut, a bob

quoi? = what?

tant pis = too bad

qu'est-ce que c'est = what's is it

profiter = to take advantage of

le chemin = road, way

ça t'embête? = does this bother you?

merci ma fille = thanks my girl

tiens = here

là, elle va se gaver = there she's going to give it her all

Est-ce que tu as des frissons aussi? = Mom, do you have goosebumps too?




If you would like to visit us here at our vineyard, simply reserve your seat beneath the Mulberry tree! Leave a message in the comments box and I'll get back to you. Here are the next meet-ups:

April Meet-ups

Tuesday, 17th at 4 pm

Tuesday, 24th at 4 pm

Thursday, 26th, at 4 pm (with special guests Gus Ellison and the lovely Paulette)


May Tastings:

Tuesday the 1st at 4pm

 (more meet-ups to come. Stay tuned!)

Meantime, you might enjoy this reader-submitted guide:

What to do in Aix-en-Provence? Click here to read or add suggestions.

You'll also enjoy Lynne Alderson's blog - Aixcentric


Please forward this edition to a friend who loves France! 


A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

mel curtis

The special times we have with our children never disappear really. After moving to Dubai over 6 years ago and leaving both boys in the UK( both in their early twenties) the a,ready stropng relationship we had with the distance just becomes stronger. When younger I allowed them space and time with their friends. They were allowed to become their own person and that has made them the wonderful young men of today.
One married and the other planning to next summer in Crete. We borrow our children and hopefully we guide them in the right direction to become good people.
Well my week in Aups has come to en end so off back to work in Dubai tomorrow.
I hope one day Kirsten I can pop down to your vine yard and say hello.

Marika Ujvari

This vignette brought tears to my eyes. It brought back memories and feelings of times I filed away in my memory bank. But the 30 years that flew by did not erase the emotions, similar to yours, this story evoked. Hang on Kristi!You will both get through the ups and downs of these teenage times.

Susan in Oakton

Oh, that was so beautiful, Kristin, and indeed brought frissons and tears as well. You are a marvelous mother, and your daughter has grown up under our very eyes, so we do know how gracefully she is turning out. Thank you for turning your heart inside out for us.

jan Greene

What a genuine and touching story. It gives us all the memory of that time and knowledge that you have a lovely daughter and all will be well! We will be in Paris on the 25 but sadly, just Paris. No trips to the South, just 'family' time with our friends and a chance to be called 'nana' by the French grandchildren. Will be avec toi in spirit and always thankful for you frequent sharing of your lives. Merci!

Sarah in Chicago

This gave me goosebumps too! I am the mother of an amazing 27 year old woman, our relationship is not always smooth, ESP back in those teenage another read commented, just hang in there! Pick your battles, and enjoy!

Karen Whitcome  (Towson, Md)

Oh, Kristin. This really got to my heart today. Follow the roadsigns, indeed. You are so right to remind yourself to control your feelings because they are challenged so many more times with our daughters than with our sons who are so much more happy-go-lucky.

Over spring break I had my daughter in the car for one road trip and my son for another. What a difference! Left with my thoughts much more of the time with my daughter (due to earplugs) I realized that, with our little lovelies, emotions and reactions seem to run all over the board - and they are mostly MINE. I think that this tip-toe-ing connection brings out the deepest parts of our own selves as we balance being kept at arms length while holding onto a very close heart-string. I typically run between controlled anger and low self-esteem. It's the only relationship that throws me off my game.

My take is that they - at this age - are forcing that arms-length and denying the mirror-like connection to their moms. It must be an unconscious attempt to find their own spirit. That's what I tell myself, anyway. What a price to pay as we await the future when, hopefully, they come back us ready to fully embrace this beautiful bond.

Beautiful photos here! Keep them close at hand.


Especially lovely story today. It gave me a frisson too.

Jeanne in Oregon

I so enjoyed your story today. And I felt the frisson when I read the last line as well. Thank you so much for sharing your life and insights with the rest of us. God bless you.


Vous m'avez donné la chair de poule!
Always love the ones with your daughter. Thanks again
Anna x




Nicely done. It helps to know that in order to grow into adults, children have to separate from their parents. it's natural -- we certainly did it when we were growing up -- but yes, it hurts. The reward is adult children with whom you have a good relationship.

Here's a book I found helpful: "Get Out of my Life, but First Can You Take Me and Cheryl to the Mall?".

Maria B.

Beautiful story Kristen.
Tears for me... Reminiscent of my daughter's growing up years and the struggles and love...but also of my is the 8th year anniversary of her passing.
But the joy is knowing that love surpasses all and unites us.
Your daughter has you as her mother. She can only blossom with that love!
Thank you!


I echo all of the above, Kristin - tears, frissons, similar feelings with my daughter - it is not easy with our little "women" who mirror our very souls!! Beautiful girl, soooo like Jean Marc and your son is the spitting image of you. You're doing a fine job. We're all clapping from the sidelines!!


Add me to the list of readers whose eyes filled upon reading your little essay. Change and loss are the touchstones of our lives, and they bring a bittersweet pang that is indescribable. My daughter, who is 28, is very close to us, yet I am increasingly aware that she is a fully mature woman who has her own ideas. That is as it should be, but I'd give anything to have back the little girl, just for a little while, who looked at me with such unquestioning love and innocence and trust. As my husband and I get older, each day brings an awareness that time is passing, life is changing, and, while that is inevitable, it is also irretrievably sad.

Cynthia Gillespie

Ah, c'est trop beau!


J'apprécie votre blog, même si je n'avais jamais laisser un commentaire. Mais je voudrais dire que la photo de vous et ton fille est vraiment touchante.






Linda Williams Rorem

I enjoy all of your posts, but especially the ones about your family life, as they prove that our struggles as parents are universal. Friends of mine assure me that in two more years, when my youngest child and only daughter turns 14, she will become a card-carrying member of the "I Hate Mom Club." Those friends also assure me that those beastly girls come back around by age 17. It's so hard to believe that it will happen, and looking at the photo of your daughter at age 8, I'm sure you felt the same way. Thanks also for the mini tribute to Whitney. Music is a great unifier. My next blog post (not until 4/23) will be on that subject; I hope you will take a peek. -- Linda W.R.

Eileen deCamp, Charlottesville, VA

Bonjour Kristin,
I enjoyed your story today. I love the precious photo of Jackie looking up at you. So adorable! I had a little lump in my throat reading this story.

Diane Scott-Tallahassee, FL

A most lovely and poignant post. Daughters can tear your heart out in a second and, in the next, mold it anew with such tenderness that it melts. Breaking and rejuvinating -- a mother's heart beats stronger for it.

Donna Grieder

I marvel at your gift, Kristin. Thank you for today's special story.
Years ago I had a powerful one-sided frisson moment with my daughter, who was then about 16 year old. We both had read Alice Hoffman's novel 'At Risk'. I mentioned that one line in particular had pierced my heart and my daughter casually quoted the very sentence, although we had not previously discussed the book.
Your story has given me a word for - and a context for - that special moment.

Debby Montague

Thank you for the beautiful story of you and Jackie. It gave me tears and "frissons."

Erin Owens

Kristen- thank you for this story! I did indeed feel your mutual frissons, thinking about the bond I have with my mother, and also hopeful one day to share them with my daughter (now only two years old). I was deeply touched by the depth of desire you have to bond with your own children.

Christine Webb-Curtis


I loved your post this morning. As I have no daughters (only sons), it reminded me of a drive to a friend's house near Boston when I was a teenager. I'm much too old to have been able to torment my mother with an iPod, but as I recall, I was moody; and I'm sure we experienced the same things. We were very close, however, once I matured. I enjoyed her immensely and she enjoyed me.

Maria Amalia Trejos

It made me cry.
Peut être parce que j'ai deux filles petites...

judith dunn

Kristen... I have a special bond with my daughter , now 50, who is also a best friend to me and vice versa. As a photographer, I appreciate your sepia print ... a most beautiful and touching photo.... I believe she will grow up to have many characteristics of you and Jules and be a most fabulous woman! Bon weekend, Judi from Tallahassee....

Karen Whitcome  (Towson, Md)

I loved your words too, Diane Scott.

Julie F in St. Louis, MO

I hope your daughter reads this entry one day.

Beth Fiore Kral

Lovely entry, Kristin. Gave me chills too! Your daughter same with the iPod and earbuds as my 17 year old teen in NC. Tunes out in the car. But what a thrill when he actually pulls out his earbuds and talks to me and shares something with me verbally. I cherish those moments!

Susan Carter, Westminster, CA

Beautiful story, Kristen, and one that every mother of a daughter can relate to with a touch of sadness and joy.

Ruth Shelby

What a lovely story - thank you. And your daughter is such a lucky girl to have you as her mother.

John  Schofield

Great story! Having 5 teenage Missourians, I can relate to the earbuds.
We can't come to a tasting, but could you tell us where to look on Google Earth to see your farm?


Great post. Kristin, you have a writer's superb eye for just the right detail, the little thing that takes on a broader meaning as the tale develops. These little epiphanies are what great writing is all about. Very few people can do what you do.

Merci, and don't ever stop.


Thank you for this poignant post. I was crying as I read it because what happened between you and your daughter touched me so deeply. My daughter is away at college, and though I recognize this is the time in her life for her to begin to make her own way, I miss her so much. Those days when they are young and depending so much upon us are so quickly replaced by their need to become individuals. Thank you for your writing and for your sharing. Frances in Napa, California.

Lin Powell

from Victoria, B.C. Canada
Your story reminded me of all the times I drove my son...not always great, but sometimes the most wonderful connection we'd ever get in those teen years. But I do miss the childhood years when they still thought their parents were smart, beautiful and special.


I love this post today Kristy. Thank you! All our love from CA!


this brought tears to my eyes. I think it happens in many relationships that it seems you're at odds or not connecting and then something occurs that makes that all melt away and the truth, the love shines through. You showed us it takes courage to surrender, but the results can be wonderful. Merci!

twilight jewellery

This story is is usually happenings in every family member. As parent we need to understand our children and no matter what happen always show them our support.


My daughters are always saying "gaver" in the same sense as your daughter. At first I thought they were talking about stuffing themselves or someone getting stuffed. I finally understand this slang now...

I would love to come to your vineyard on one of those dates.


Our dear Kristin,
Another wonderful post (and picture!)--as
always! It wrapped itself around my heart and brought smiles to my (rainy) morning!
You Espinasse girls are nothing short of gorgeous! (you not only share a wonderful bond but look alike,too!)
Very special congratulations to Jules for quitting cigarettes. No easy feat (as I can also attest!)
Natalia XO
Alittle trivia: "I Will Always Love You" was actually first sung by Dolly Parton (who perhaps wrote it?) We had it on a contraption called an eight track tape player. (we nicknamed it 'the endless tape" because it'd NEVER shut off!)


This was so beautiful! Thank you for sharing your heart with us Kristin. I'm going to go hug my little girl now.

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm ~ Applegate, Oregon

So beautifully shared and smartly written, Kristi. I so love your view of the world. I felt as if I was in J-M’s car, feeling your feelings and goose bumps too. The photos are the perfect accompaniment to this treasure. Thank you for warming my heart and lightening my mood!

Kitty Wilson

Superb one, Kristi -- thanks so much. It is over twenty years since my daughter was Jackie's age, yet moments like these -- of vast distance suddenly gone -- still occur between us. Letting go with plumbless love seems to be a day-to-day thing all life long!

Les frissons like these make it so worthwhile, so precious beyond telling -- except you evoke that incalculable value perfectly here. Bless you for the power of your words and your silences too.


LOVE this post!!!!! Merci!!

Bill Facker - Kauai

Kristin, your writing is reaching new heights .. your blood is not only flowing onto the page .. it is perfumed! BRAVO .. BRAVO !!

Karen from Phoenix

What a beautiful story. Love to you and Jackie!

Fred Caswell

Kristi, you have a rare and precious gift -- no, MANY! I agree 100% with Bill Facker.

Your vivid recall of events, thoughts, feelings, and words once again touched this "vieux homme" who's eyes were washed again with liquid diamonds of joy and remembrances. The pictures grace this sharing with photos of a gorgeous mom and daughter.

Over the past several months I was blessed with a friendship with Sarah, now a 23 y.o. college grad soon on her way to Alaska to help manage a youth hostel. We assumed the relation of adopted grandfather-granddaughter. I bid her "a la prochain" over lunch and as we hugged and cheek-kissed, the words once read but etched in my memory came to mind -- "kiss the passing joy".

Now, in the winter of my life, a great effort is being exerted to gather as many as I can of my descendants for a reunion and for a first time meeting of a few,two days before my 85th "anniversaire".

Affectueusement toujours de Fred

Cynthia Conner Lincoln NE

OMG! What an absolutely gorgeous picture of you two. It brought tears to my eyes. If only they could stay little forever.

Marianne Rankin

I was fortunate that my mother and I always got along really well - of the older generation, she was not only my mother, but my best friend.

The picture of you and Jackie is exceptional - a true work of art. I hope you have similar photos of the rest of the family. Such a photo, if not considered too personal, would be a great addition to another book - and sooner or later there will be another?


Ah, the memories of those teen years! You've captured them perfectly. Great writing, Kristin. On another note...I'm considering a road trip to Provence...any openings in your April 24th meet-up? I'd love to stop by and meet you in person.

Donna Fitch

I can't believe it took me this long to discover you! I just ordered both of your books! Looking forward to catching up on your blog...I am a lover of all things French...recently moved from Portland OR to Central PA...and as much as I miss OR...excited to be that much closer to Europe! Best, Donna


Sweet post! I love that song by Whitney Houston. There is no way anyone else could have sung it any better. Bon weekend!


What a lovely story, and what a beautiful photo of you with your (younger) daughter!

Kristin Hadley

I really enjoyed this special story- thank you for sharing it.

Carolyn  Dahm,  Sharon, MA

Chere Kristi,

Comme tout le monde, j'ai aussi des frissons! And lots of tears, as I shared this with my husband Paul. What a beautiful story. I'm thinking back to my teenage years and young adult life with my Mom before she passed away and at the same time, towards a future I hope to have with a child of my own. My Mom and I often connected with music in the car during our trips to the store, etc. I've always loved to sing and she used to love hearing me mimic some of her favorites. How I miss those times! But how lucky I was to experience them with her. Despite the "gap" between you and Jackie, she obviously loves you a great deal and longs for those special moments just as you do. Thank you for sharing this wonderful moment with us.
I hope Jackie has a wonderful week chez son amie and you have a special week yourself at home with the rest of the gang. Savor each moment and spend some time in your yard with the blooms. I hope to do the same.
Sending love your way, Carolyn :)


Lovely, Kristin! Thank you.

Bob Head

So poignant--so true also of our own three daughters.
Oh that blessed generation gap--it's so frustrating!!


Two beautiful mother-daughter photos, you look radiant in the more recent one. I second Jim's recommendation of "Get Out of my Life, but First Can You Take Me and Cheryl to the Mall?". You would love it.


What a wonderful moment. Thank you so much for sharing it! Best, gina

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)