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alerte meteo

golden retriever dog halloween costume mask, vineyard, fall, autumn, vines, mont ventoux (c) Kristin Espinasse,
Best to be prepared! Good, Braise, one can never be too prévoyant... for holidays--or for the weather! Read on... (photo taken in Ste. Cécile-les-Vignes. We moved away from the vineyard one year ago.

alerte météo (a-lairt-may-tay-oh)

    : weather warning

Example Sentence: (Audio files will return, we're a little sunk at the moment...)

Une alerte météo, ou une météorologique, est un bulletin d'avertissement de l'imminence de phénomènes météorologiques dangereux. --Wikipedia

A weather alert, or une météorologigue, is a warning bulletin of impending and dangerous weather phenomena. 

Tools for language learning:

Blossoming in Provence, short stories about life in France (c) Kristin Espinasse, Blossoming in Provence. Build your French vocabulary by reading the short vignettes of life in France. You'll learn more than the language. Order here. (Makes a good, educational gift!)


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

I was in the supermarket parking lot when I overheard the couple next to me talk about the storm. "Chéri," the woman said, "did you hear the news? They've issued an alerte météo jaune...."

"Si, si," she said to her doubtful husband,"Just look at the sky...."

What a stroke of luck it was to hear the avertissement or I wouldn't have been aware of the upcoming change in weather. On the way home from the grocer's, I rattled off a game plan to my daughter:

Jackie, when we get home, you put away the groceries and feed the dogs. I'll gather the buckets and the towels and have your brother dig out the trench and... oh! I wish your dad weren't out of town tonight!

Rather than count our losses, we'd better add up our defenses. As the old French saying goes: Un homme averti en vaut deux. (A man forewarned is worth two men.) 

Yes forewarned is forearmed! Gathering our "sandbags" (sacks of dog food--and potting soil), I focused on fighting back this time. While the kids and I worked, I couldn't help think about the premonition from a few weeks back, when Jean-Marc and I were ankle-deep in water, working to dry out the house after the previous orage. I had wondered, then, just how a wife alone would cope. I just didn't imagine the answer would come so soon.

"Put them there and there!" I barked orders at Max who, in turn, questioned the dog food. "Just do what I say. Don't argue. Put those croquettes in front of the kitchen door!"

I dashed over to the clothesline to gather the linge and, as I stood there, unpinning my husband's T-shirts and carefully folding them into the basket, that calming feeling came over me. For a moment, I thought about how assured I felt. Until the sky darkened a notch and the horizon took on a dust-colored blur.

Balancing the wash basket on my hip I turned toward the house, when an eerie breeze swept past, ruffling my hair. A few loosened wisps caressed my face, like a menacing whisper in a back alley at midnight. I hurried inside and locked the door.


In bed beneath the covers, my eyes are glued to the sky. Every so often the room lights up with a flash and my heart beats count the moments until--KABOOM--another crush of thunder strikes. 

"Mom, is the house going to come down?" Jackie shifted beside me.

"Of course not, Honey." I took a lesson from my belle-mère, earlier in the day. Never let them see your weakness, only strength. But the truth was j'étais tétanisée! I was paralyzed with fear. They say what you don't know won't hurt you, which explains my change of perspective. Ever since the last storm I can't stop thinking of what could go wrong.

In between thunder strikes, I could hear dogs barking wildly in the distance. Oh mon Dieu! Had they been left outside? Were they being soaked by the downpour? The cries were heartwrenching torture. I had an urge to get into my car to locate the Forgotten Ones... when a flash of lightning sent a chilling warning. There is no way you're going to drive through this storm! 

The windows trembled and shook so hard it seemed they would burst. Lying there, listening to the downpour, I thought about our unsophisticated sandbag system and began to lose faith in our dog food dam. Was the water inching in by now? I'd better get up and check, but my fluttering heart was pinning me to the mattress. 

No matter how hard I prayed the storm only got worse! I could not figure out why faith alone wasn't solving this problem, illico presto! I began to sense a deeper assurance coming from within. Sometimes it isn't enough to wish the storm away, you've got to chase it yourself!

The next crashing boom flung me right out of bed. "Jackie," I said, feeling my way to the door (the power was out now), I've got to check things!" I found a lampe de poche and shined it across the entry, where the dogs looked up with squinty eyes. "It's OK! I said, assuring myself as well as our goldens.

Shining the light toward the kitchen I saw the seaux I'd put out to catch the water (should it flow in beneath the door, like before). Instead, the buckets were floating! 

Seeing the area just below the main fuse box was dry, I stepped up on a chair and flipped on the electricity, in order to use the kitchen lights to see. 

I grabbed the towels and threw them on the floor. Next began the folly of soaking and twisting, soaking and twisting. My daughter now by my side, we filled 6 buckets this way. Our pajama pants rolled up to our knees we squatted to the floor and when we could no longer hold up, we turned over the extra buckets and used them as seats.

I am terrified by the idea of electricity and water, the combination, but I kept my imagination intact; after all, the plugs were high and dry; I knew that the cords behind the refrigerator had been lifted after the last flood. Still, my body trembled until the last bit of water was gone. 

I watched Jackie pass the dry mop, impressed by her maturity. At 1:00 in the morning, she was staying with me until the last drop was gone. We'd screamed at each other when beginning the chore, but the stress worked itself into teamwork. And now we had the pleasure of sharing this accomplishment.

"Thank you so much!" I said, taking the mop from my daughter. "I didn't think there would be this much water." 

"De rien, Maman. It could have been worse."

I took a clue from my daughter, and thought about the bright side of things. We were lucky to have electricity--filling and emptying buckets in the dark would've been a challenge--and the storm was now over. Even brighter was a side of my daughter I'd just discovered, while chasing that storm together. To think I might have missed it, had my prayers been answered.

 *    *    *

Clothesline in Nyons (c) Kristin Espinasse,
We continue to dry out here at home. Meantime, may I share my clothesline passion with you. I'll upload more photos here (if reading via email). Please check back! (Pictured, a favorite "clothesline" find in Nyons--right next door to a fancy pants restaurant. "We'll show 'em." The neighbors seem to say.

French Vocabulary

prévoyant = foreseeing

chéri, chérie = darling

alérte météo jaune = be attentive
(for the other colors click here for Météo France's la Carte de vigilance)

si = yes (when answering a negative statement) 

un avertissement = warning

un orage = storm

le linge = linen (also clothing, when washing or drying)

la belle-mère = mother-in-law

être tétanisé = to be terrified

oh, mon Dieu = oh dear Lord

illico presto = right away

une lampe de poche = flashlight

le seau = bucket 

de rien = it's nothing (you're welcome)

 Corrections or comments welcome here.

  clothesline, laundry, Massif des Maures (c) Kristin Espinasse,
I often walked past this clothes line, on my way home in Les Arcs-sur-Argens.

  laundry or clothes line in Marseilles, rue Baussenque (c) Kristin Espinasse,

I think this one was taken in the charming Panier district of Marseilles...

Clothesline and pegs, or clothespins. Old weathered desk, flagstone (c) Kristin Espinasse,
Our clothesline in Les Arcs-sur-Argens. Sadly, that desk--a dumpster dive find of Mom's--got left behind.

clothesline, sunset, mont ventoux, france (c) Kristin Espinasse,
Our clothesline in Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes.

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