A big thank you to the ladies who welcomed me yesterday to their bookclub in Marseilles. Merci beaucoup Cari, Julie, Agnès, Andrea, Anne, Cris, Olivia, Lisa, and Christiane for reading Words in a French Life and for your very encouraging feedback--as well as for the cheers to keep on this writing path!
Today's picture: Last winter's frost killed many of the lauriers roses, or oleanders, in our part of the Vaucluse. Here at home, we lost this flowering artichaut; the local bees used to buzz round and round it, attracted by its bright purple fleurs.
Today's Word: bourdonner
: to buzz, hum; to drone; to murmur
Pendant la période estivale, lorsque la nature, les fleurs et les vignes expriment toute leur beauté, les cigales, les abeilles et les taons bourdonnent autour de nous. During summertime, when nature, the flowers, and the vines express all their beauty, the cicadas, the bees, and the gadflys buzz all around us.
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
The following story was written one year ago...
The Sound of Wheat
The morning Mom left I fought the urge to crawl right back into bed. I might have slept all day, behind closed shutters, in a room as dark as a smarting heart. I didn't dare "go there"; instead, there was work to do including stories to write and beds to make. Besides, who could sleep with all the racket outside the bedroom window?
I tuned into the sounds filtering in from the countryside, where the grapevines are so full of leaves you can no longer see the ground beneath their green canopy. Rising from those mysterious depths was a familiar buzz one hears only in summertime: les cigales. They were awake now—only, much too late for Mom to enjoy their song! What should have been an exciting event—the first cicadas of the season!!!—left me feeling even more saddened. What a dirty trick played by the trilling "tree crickets"! They might have had la courtoisie to appear one day earlier in time to tickle a dear mother's ears!
Following Mom's departure, it took a forced change of perspective to set a despondent daughter back on track and, finally, I had an inspiration: Wasn't that, after all, a clever way for Jules to exit: on the wings of cicada song!
In the spirit of changing perspective—and not letting a sunken heart color reality—I headed out to do some errands and discovered that the technicolor world outside my door was still intact.
There was that field of bright yellow tournesols, just outside the town of Orange—yet another first of the season. I regretted not pulling over to the side of the road to snap a picture of so many sunny faces. Perhaps I would get back to it?
And there was that roadside fruit stand—a one-woman show featuring a grandmother, a rickety old bagnole, and a trunk filled with abricots à gogo! It was a little too late to stop for those and so I sped on by....
After finishing errands I found myself rushing home and wondering about that change-of-perspective that I had set out on. What was the point of good intentions when, in the end, you were not willing to stop and look and taste and listen! I'd missed the cicadas, I'd missed the sunflowers, I'd missed the rickety trunk of apricots!
In a whirl of regret, I almost missed the brightness entering my car from the side. I turned to its source and began to gaze at a striking champ de blé!
Pulling off the side of the road I lowered the car window and wondered: Have you ever listened to a field of wheat? Stick your ears out now! Écoute! The sound is gloriously sizzling!
I sat silently, letting the melody of wheat, along with the lazy, late-spring breeze, envelop me. Earlier, I had rushed right on by the other splendors of the countryside, and here was my chance....
Cars sped by but it was the wheat that now captured my eyes. I could just see the braided wheat tips crowned by those bleached feathery locks. Each blade of wheat might have been a soulful singer and an endless field made for a mesmerizing chorus!
I shook my head in appreciation. And I asked once again, Have you ever stopped and truly listened to the sound of wheat?
la cigale = cicada
la courtoisie = courtesy
le tournesol = sunflower
la bagnole = car (jalopy)
un abricot = apricot
à gogo = galore
un champ = a field
de blé = of wheat
écoute! = listen!
The next wine-tastings here at the vineyard are on July 3rd (4pm), July 12th (5pm), and July 16th (4pm). Leave a message here in the comments box, or via email, to reserve your seat beneath the mulberry tree!
Photo above: Jean-Marc is gearing up for another honey harvest. We are saving jam and pickle and mayo jars... getting ready for the next mise-en-bouteilles! Read about the previous honey bottling in the story "The Control Freak and The Honey Harvest"
Meantime, Jean-Marc continues to make wine! Here's some good news: Domaine Rouge-Bleu is now available in Japan! Order our wines online here.
A Message from Kristi: For 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.
Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
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Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety