How to say "little girl" (or small bottle) in French: une fillette + Maternal instinct
Zipper politics in France (!)

mangetout + the thrill of sowing seeds

sugar pea bean stalk (c) Kristin Espinasse
Smokey and the Beanstalk... this snapshot reminds me of a favorite fairy tale. (Pictured: the near transparent "mangetout" bean that sprang up in December--alongside the wire fence of the dogs' pen.  I love the camera perspective. Had the lens been moved that much more we might have placed Smokey on a branch... and sent him on a celestial journey. To think that even a slight shift in perspective could put us on a higher path today....) 

mangetout (manzh-too)

    : sugar pea or snow pea or snap pea

Mange tout means, literally, "eat all"--for the sugar pea's popular advantage: no need to shuck it, you can eat it whole

In old French a mangetout is a reckless spender--somebody who eats up his or her savings.


Beautifully renovated and decorated home in the Luberon. 4 bedrooms and a study with a sofa bed, each with ensuite (full) bath. This villa comfortably sleeps 7-9 adults.

Audio File:
listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence Download MP3 or Wav

On ne l'écosse pas le mangetout. On le mange comme ça.
We don't shell sugar peas. We eat them as is.

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

This week I'm as restless as a leaf. I don't feel like writing stories. I feel like sowing seeds!

There is nothing more fun than rushing outside with a handful of graines--especially in the morning when the ground is dewy and pliable! I love to poke seeds at random--par ici et par là--increasing the odds.

The things that come up! And in the most unexpected (or forgotten) places: sugar peas in the dog pen (in December!), snapdragons beside the restanque (in January!), melons in a field of cane! 

Planting par hasard is the fun way to garden.  No longer limited by rules ("plant 5cm apart, in partial shade, after frost") you can enjoy a try everything! freedom:

Try over there by the clothesline... try there by the parked cars... try there by mailbox... try there by the telephone pole... try there by the barbeque and there by the compost bin and there by the water spout.... 

Sow tomatoes and sunflowers and that pit in the apricot you're eating. Why not! Then be amazed when a snow pea blossoms along a crooked fence, its bright green leaves embellishing it. Enjoy the faint purple hue of coriander flowers beside the yellow garden hose. Be astonished when the snapdragon seeds you shoved in your jean pockets, in Spain--then accidentally ran through a wash cycle--offered up a fuchsia bouquet in France!

Begin to feel like maybe, just maybe, you're a budding gardener genius after all. Feel a little heady that the grain of creation you hold in your hand--the seed that is no longer than an eyelash--will, in three months time, tower above your 74-year-old aunt!

Meantime, rush outside--any time of year--to your yard or another's. Keep plugging seeds under the snow, beneath the leaves--even in the pockets of the trees!


Post note: ever heard of seed bombing (a.k.a. aerial reforestation)? It's also a movement whereby citizens make seed balls (water+clay+variety of seeds) then "bomb" unsightly curbs, forgotten industrial yards, and your neighbor's junk yard. Imagine sunflowers growing where garbage once collected, or snap peas climbing a broken fence! 

To respond to this story, click here.

French Vocabulary

une graine = seed
par ici et par là = here and there
la restanque = stone terrace used in agriculture
par hasard = by chance

 Provence Dreamin'? Maison des Pelerins, Sablet. A Vacation Rental Dream in the heart of the Côte du Rhone. Click here for photos.

This nigella, or "love in a mist" appeared beside the cellar, born of seeds gathered from our former garden.

You may remember this beauty, which popped up beside the pool at our old home. I harvested plenty of its seeds and planted them here in the back yard....


After trying my luck the past few years--planting seeds beside the garage, by the clothesline, in Jean-Marc's wine barrels... last March we had rock beds built! (But it's still more fun to plant everywhere else!)


I seeded the beds with a wild sweep of the hand (picture skipping stones, only you're holding seeds instead). In addition to some whole plants I bought (zucchini, raspberry) hundreds of seeds grew.  See what came up, here!



Pancho says: what are "tree pockets?"

I'm on my way outside, now, with a pocket of seeds--and also an answer for Pancho! I leave you with a letter I received this week:


I had to forward this to you to read as Claudia and I were made known to each through your French Word a Day blog. Maybe this will help you understand just a bit of how much we appreciate your writing. God bless and love to Jules.

Best regards, Barbara (and Claudia) 

Thank you Barbara and Claudia for the story you sent! Here is the link for others who might enjoy it, too--and the wonderful artwork!

In the town where my husband was born, it was a thrill to see author George Sand's garden--which reminds me to tell you this: notice the plants and flowers all around--especially when they go to seed. Then fill your pockets with seed magic! To know that a little bit of George Sand's jardin is growing in my back yard--it's enough to make me want to settle down, finally, and write a story!


Speaking of seeds, check out what I gave my best friend for Christmas--I got this package for the variety (and not for fear the world is going to pot. Then again... :-)


A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens