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avoir la tete sur les epaules & Jackie's return

avoir la tête sur les épaules (ah-vwar-lah-tet-soor-layz-ay-pawl)

    : to be sensible, to have a good head on one's shoulders

Audio File:
listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's expression: Download MP3 file or Wave file

Pour faire un si long voyage seule à 15 ans, Jackie doit avoir la tête sur ses épaules. To go on such a long trip alone, at the age of 15, Jackie must have a good head on her shoulders.


    by Kristin Espinasse

Jackie's back! After a 4 week stay with her grandparents in Idaho, we met our daughter at the Marseilles airport. We are so proud of her for travelling solo from Sun Valley to Salt Lake City--then on to Paris and Marseilles. At the age of 15 she navigated the various airports, waited for long stretches for connecting flights, and got through customs--without any assistance at all. Bravo jeune fille! Tu as bien la tête sur les épaules!

Nearing the airport exit, on our way to pick up Jackie, Jean-Marc suggested we search the sky for her plane. After all, how many other avions were arriving at 5:12pm? 

"There she is! There's our girl!" I said, pointing to the sky above the deep blue Mediterranean. Our heads were craned before the windshield as we watched the plane descend like a metaphor. Thanks to this voyage de découverte, Jackie was gaining in Independence and confidence--learning to fly with her own wings or, as the French say, voler de ses propres ailes.

Entering the airport périphérique, I learned our plan was to meet Jackie at the zone de livraison des bagages.

"Baggage claim! Why aren't we meeting our daughter at the gate?!" 

Before Jean-Marc had a chance to answer, I bet this was part of the plan: he was rooting for our daughter to make it all the way through the voyage--from security check in Ketchum, Idaho, to baggage claim in Marseilles, France. 

"Go ahead," he encouraged me. There's still time to meet her at the gate. While Jean-Marc parked the car, I hurried toward the terminal.

Speeding to meet Jackie, I took a wrong turn in Hall 4--the arrival and departure terminal for international flights. By the time I got to "arrivals" (downstairs) the gate was clear. Everyone had already met up with their loved one. 

At baggage claim I ran into our friend Astrid, who was there to pick up her son from a similar trip (his voyage of independence took place in Miami, Florida). There was no time to chat; after a quick bise I sped off to find my daughter--but ran smack into Jean-Marc instead. With a giant ear-to-ear smile he announced our girl was waiting outside on the curb.

Pushing past my husband, I darted towards the tall glass doors--all but smashing in to them. Why weren't they opening? The answer came quickly enough as the doors slid open automatically, revealing the empty sidewalk beyond.

But where was she? Was this some sort of father-daughter prank? I give in! I give in! Bring on the much-anticipated reunion! I scrambled to and fro in frustration until... Was that she?  Beside the parking meter there was a tall figure with a mane of long blond hair. The apparition stopped me in my tracks and got me doubting.  

No, this was a woman. Studying the stranger's body language--upright, yet relaxed--I didn't recognize my girl, who tends to slouch. 

But could it be Jackie? I picked up my pace again--deciding to run around to the side and get a better look before bounding in and swooping her into my arms. I've made the mortifying mistake before, of embracing a complete stranger. With a bit of caution, the embarrassment might be avoided. 

But love throws all caution to the wind. Racing, now, toward the upright woman, whose back was to me, I threw my arms around her. My joy was sprinkled with relief on hearing the sound of her voice.

"Maman! Maman!"

*    *    *

That's my girl. Welcome home!!!


Valerian flower a.k.a. Le lilas d'Espagne (c) Kristin Espinasse

Before picking up our daughter at the airport, I saw this butterfly while watering the garden. As the papillon softly flapped its ailes, I thought of Jackie. This picture is for her. The leopard wings are just her style.

French Vocabulary

bravo jeune fille! = way to go, young lady!

tu as bien la tête sur les épaules! = you've got a good head on your shoulders

un avion = airplane

le voyage de découverte = discovery trip

voler de ses propres ailes = to fly with one's own wings

le périphérique = beltway, ring road

la zone de livraison des bagages = baggage claim

le hall = air terminal 

la bise = kiss

maman = mom 


  Outfits for Misfits (c) Kristin Espinasse

Black, black, or black? What to wear to the concert in Arles? Lately I'm picking my husband's brain for fashion advice. He didn't like the shoes here (the ones on the right are my daughter's), but suggested the black flip-flops my mom had left behind. Good idea! Let's go casual.

Panier du potager (c) Kristin Espinasse
Kale, parsley, zucchini, favas and tomatoes. Next year I'll remember to plant corn and melons and carrots in our potager garden

Smokey and Love Salad (c) Kristin Espinasse
Smokey: I love me some fruit salad. Recipe at the end of this story.

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