relancer + pomegranates and grandmothers c'est sympa!
objet-trouve - see what's been found in today's edition!

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.

Shop Amazon via the following links and your purchase helps to support this language journal.  Thanks.

Bicycles shopper back

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.

Joan Clark

Dearest Krisitn, Bless your heart, there is nothing more terrifying for me than those kinds of storms. I don't think they would frighten me quite so much if the horrific booms were not a part of the storm. I live in what I call My Own Little Provence. We have a lot of the same type weather you have and there is sometimes flooding in the near by towns. Fortunately we are on higher ground and have not experienced any damage far. We do have lightening strikes that start fires and these are even more frightening for me. And I always wonder, why is it that when things go wrong it is usually when my husbanbd is gone. I hope you didn't have serious damage and you are dry by now.

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

Glad you handled the flood with your daughter, finishing it all.

I hope there is a solution for heavy rains to drain away from your house rather than directly into it, someday.

I share your dislike of water, free-flowing, and electricity. Best both to have good circuit breakes on the electricty, and to improve the outside drainage paths, for a dry house in the storm.

Meaning this story was well-told, as if I were in the room with the two of you.


I loved the Zorro Braise but doesn't Smokey get a mask too? Please, please post more pictures of your gorgeous dogs!

Frank Chappell

Kristin, how is the water getting in; it looks like the door is several steps above the street ?


PS-- I messaged you a photoshopped version of you vacation picture of you and Marc on Facebook. You were too much in the shadows.


Very vivid account!

Small correction of your English vocabulary, if I may: "I kept my imagination in tact" - I suppose you meant under control. To keep something intact (it's one word, not two) means to keep it unharmed, unchanged, undamaged. I suppose you meant 'under control'or something similar.


Somehow I missed seeing the photos earlier. They are SUPERB!!


Hey, Boo! I thought this episode was so well written.I felt my breath go short! I happen to love thunder storms, so long as I feel safe inside my space. My grandfather was a contractor and he built my childhood home out of bricks. I can remember my mother pulling me away from a window during a hurricane. I was watching a huge oak split in half. Somehow, I thought I was completely safe, like the third Litte Pig in his brick house. (I was five at the time.)
Last year, we lived through Hurricane Sandy and all its destruction. The truth is that I can prepare for storms - raise the plugs, install circuit breakers and drainage systems around the foundation, trim trees, etc. - and then I know I'll deal with whatever else comes down the pike.
Don't get me wrong! I wouldn't choose it. But, having lived through it, I can say that the time I spent with my own daughter, huddled in the center of the house while the wind and rain raged, deepened our relationship. We were like two crazy people, laughing and working side by side. Then, the power was out for two weeks, and again we managed. What I learned was how truly connected we are to friends and family when s**t happens. We're never truly alone.
Glad you're all ok! That's the important bit. Now...I'm no architect, but there must be some way to keep water from coming in your kitchen door...landscaping, trenching, underground drains...perhaps even relocating the entrance? (like a tent entrance that faces downhill on a stormy night). You'll figure it out!
Best of luck always, kiddo! You're a hero!

Kristin Espinasse

Linda, I do not know how you managed. Thanks for sharing your story. Re keeping the water out, I forgot to mention that some of it seemed to seep through the walls and up from the cracks in the ground. To be clear, we did not have this problem the first year (has global warming advanced that quickly? That the current rains are heavier than before?) 

(I am now pasting in my previous comment, which must have ended up in the spam filter...)

Thank you for your thoughtful comments! 

Sarah, Jackie had a good point. She said it was surprising how we had no flooding the first year, and that maybe the major work we did on the land behind the house caused a shift (we put in a new septic tank and built four raised garden beds. A lot of tractor work and ground moving! Then again, solving the problem could be as simple as redirecting the rain pipe (or putting a large water-collecting tank beneath it). We will see...

Laurie, the picture of Braise is a few years old. I need to post more dog photos!

Frank, thank you, but I did not see it. I do not use Facebook mail and am no good at messaging. Try my email (the link is at the top of this page, left-hand column)

Jane, I appreciate the correction. Off to fix it, and a few others... now.

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Enjoyed the clothesline photos, Kristin. Clotheslines are something we no longer see much in the states. I think some suburban HOAs have even outlawed them. Quel dommage. There is something to be said for laundry dried in the fresh air. However, I did enjoy seeing sites like these in Chinatown when I traveled through on the city bus in Manhattan on my way downtown.

N, San Antonio, Texas

You had quite a night! But woman power is strong. Thank you for your story and all the new words. N

gerry orme

how ironic, I just came in from hanging out my clothes on he line, first load. And let the California sunshine do the work. I will not post any pics as it is shirts and underwear. To me, there is something zen like when I hang out my wash to dry, it must be a cleansing of a sort, hung with no cares. Monday morning ritual.
How the storms force me back into humility when I feel the forces of nature cross my path.
I do so enjoy your writing. Thank you.

Lorrie Kazan

Beautiful story, beautifully told. Compliments on your writing! (Did you work until 1p the next afternoon or 1 am that morning?)

Thank you for sharing your wonderful French life. Even when it's rough, it's filled with so much texture and goodness and conveyed with such style.

Kathleen from Connecticut


You mentioned that you and Jackie did the water clean up. What happened to Max? Did he sleep through it?
You should definitely have drains installed to divert the water away from the house. If you keep getting water , you'll eventually get mold.....ugh!
But glad all went well. I used to love to sit on a hill, in a car and watch thunder and lighting, but now I know that that is not the safest thing to do. We constantly loose our power during storms .... whether for 1 minutes or days.


Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

I held my breath as I read your description of thunder and lightning. Why do we feel safer all covered up in bed? You and Jackie needed Helen Reddy's song, "I Am Woman (hear me shout)", playing as you mopped the kitchen floor. Now, I know you are going to turn a CD player on when the kitchen floor is flooding!

We live near the Atlantic so we are always expecting the next big hurricane. "Sandy" was supposed to come ashore exactly in this area when it veered northward and did grave damage to the New York and New Jersey coastlines. I have a healthy respect for storms of all stripes.

Best wishes for all the family.


Hi dear Kristi,
Your descriptions were like pictures(!) and had my heart pounding!
The nightmare always seems worse if our hubbies are away, and yet, it provides us an
interlude to reinforce exactly how strong we can be if we need to be.Also just a wonderful bond between lovely mom and sweet daughter and son!
Best part: everything turned out okay for you and pups! (can't believe it's a year already since you moved!)
THANK YOU for again bringing smiles to my day!
Love, Natalia XO

Kristin Espinasse

Lorrie, thank you for the correction.

Kathleen, Max was in Sanary-sur-Mer -- out with friends that night.

Natalia and Cynthia, and to all who regularly stop in and take the time to comment--you are so dear! 

Joan Simon

Hi Kristin,

I just want to say that your past descriptions and pictures of clotheslines made me yearn for one. After researching where to get one, I finally just decided to use a tree in our backyard. I can't believe the smell of the clothes! And when my husband laughs at it, I tell him you inspired me!

judith dunn

...If you are the praying kind... just each day pray for no more heavy downpours, just lovely little sprinkles. We used to call it 'liquid sunshine', when we lived in Honolulu... it freshed every flower and blade of grass each morning... and everything outside smelled like perfume! Jean-Marc will find a good solution to the problem... have faith in him.. Cheers, Judi from Tallahassee, Fl. (PS.. the mother-daughter bonding was a side benefit from the mop -up scene... can't buy that kind of love!)

Leslie in Portland, Oregon

Your story reminded me of weathering a couple of big windstorms with my children. We felt empowered and bonded mightily while preparing for the storm (taping up windows, removing anything that might fly in our garden, gathering emergency supplies, bringing in neighborhood dogs whose owners were at work), and then listening to the storm and wiping up water on our first level. Reading your vivid story, I'm so glad that you and Jackie were together (in every way) and that Braise and Smokey were not beset by the panic response that so many dogs have to thunder. Did the former owners of your house have water coming in? Thank goodness your floors are tile! Best wishes for a dry, sunny week!

Joanne Ablan

Hi, Kristin,
Here on the Monterey Peninsula volunteers support the police
and fire departments with an emergency response training which
is 3 hours per week for 8 weeks. It covers things like triage, damage
assessment, light search and rescue, communications, etc. There
are containers with supplies located around the community like
spokes in a wheel whose center is the command post for the public
service professionals. In addition to assisting at various natural
disasters, the trained volunteers also can be called to help search
for lost children, the disabled, and the elderly.
Congratulations on your resourcefulness. Clearly, you have
modeled for your daughter an essential life-skill. Maybe you should celebrate with a meal and use blue ribbons as napkin rings
as a theme or perhaps make a medal bar.
Joanne, Carmel-by-the-Sea

june furey

Kristin how vividly you wrote your story of the events during the storm. I truly felt as if i was re-living it with you and Jacky. It is a true "artist" who knows her craft with confidence to be able to portray events so realistically. If only I could express myself half as well I would be proud of my efforts. Nature has a way of tricking us and as soon as you think one problem is solved it comes up with another. Best of luck with finding a solution to the flooding. June Gold Coast Qld

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
Storms can be scary. The last major one here was last summer when we experienced a "derecho" and the wind whistling through the door and window cracks became so loud and then the power went out. The next morning I went outside to lots of destruction and downed trees. I was home alone so it was scary. We had no power for a week and over 100 degree weather.
Love the photo of Braise!


Hello Kristin, here's a couple of typos:
heart-renching = heartwrenching
lightening = lightning
Jacq in steamy Brisbane


I do know that kind of events over Provence... and, Kristin, I was really with you and your daughter during this storm which occurred - in Salernes - last friday night ! I'm "electrified" too by (or with..?) the lightnings !
Hey, do you remember Gwen & Emmanuel (who lived in Les Arcs) ? They are now my new neighbors !

To Joanne : I love your lovely town ! My husband and I have good friends over there (Atherton Dr., not far from the Mission) and we try to visit them as often as possible.

Kristin Espinasse

Elisabeth, Gwen and Emmanuel moved to Salernes? Say hi for me! 


Fabulous! Good on you!
Loved this: " A few loosened wisps caressed my face, like a menacing whisper in a back alley at midnight" How evocative!
We lived through the really bad "Orkan" here in Germany 12 years ago, named "Lothar". Huge pine trees crashed down on our house. We had so much water damage ON our freshly renovated rooms. It was a nightmare. Water is so scary and leaves so much filth behind and work to do!
Brave girls, you are wonderful!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Jacq! Just updated the post with the corrections. 

Rose Chandler Johnson

Oh la la! You poor thing. Glad you managed with teamwork. At my daughter's new 89 year old house, they are planning to put in some kind of drain to prevent the same problem. I get details.

Jacqueline Fullen

Your prayers really were answered, Kristin, because you spent priceless time with your daughter that will never be forgotten. I too have a daughter and some of the best most wonderful times spent together were under duress, stress, and seemingly impossible situations. P.S. I will be in Provence on Sunday for the very first time in my life! Jackie(formerly Gill) Fullen

Kristin Espinasse

Jacqueline, that is exciting. What towns will you visit?


I will forward your "Hi" to Gwen & Emmanuel, be sure !
Can I tell you it's such a delight to read your different reports and thoughts about your everyday life (isn't it a pleonasm...?) ?
Looking forward to reading your next post !

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Elisabeth!


Hello Kristin...just a quick question...Do you know when it is appropriate to use "De rien" and when it is better to use "Je vous en prie" or "Je t'en prie?"

Mary -Audrey Mellor

Kristen, LOVE your stories. Keep them coming.. Every time I write a comment it automatically disappears on my I -Pad. Not too savvy on the computer.

I was born in Paris at the American Hospital in Neuilly in 1933 ! Along with my 2 older brothers (British mother, American father. We all left when I was about 5 months old to come to the States ,where I grew up in NYC.

Took French at school That was the language then. Now Spanish.

Have visited France numerous times, including living with a French family
On the Ave Kleber for 5 months in 1953 ..they were as eager to learn English as I was French.

Anyway, thank you for your very interesting epistles. Looking forward to more. fondly, Mary-Audrey Weicker Mellor

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.)