Pictured: Sam and Breizh, in 2009. Smokey's parents met and eloped in Marseilles. It is the most amazing story ever. A miracle! Please read "Chien Perdu" here. (But don't miss the update, below).
l'ouïe (wee) noun, feminine
Related Terms & Expressions:
l'ouï-dire = hearsay, rumor
avoir l'ouïe fine = to have sharp hearing
avoir l'ouïe un peu dure = to be hard of hearing
être tout ouïe = to be all ears
à portée de l'ouïe = within hearing
les ouïes des poissons = fish gills
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Les cinq sens. Nos cinq sens sont les suivant: la vue, l'ouïe, le goût, l'odorat, le toucher. The five senses. Our five senses are the following: sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse
To sharpen. I spoke about the French word aiguiser in a previous post, and was set to feature the verb today, when plans changed. It may seem like a strange word choice following the news about our dog's death--but then my senses seem sharper since Breizh passed away on Saturday.
With the past four days being cloaked in sadness, I began to wonder if grief isn't one of our 5 senses... but of course it isn't, as evidenced by the following list (quickly counted on my right hand, beginning with le pouce, or thumb).
- la vue (sight)
- l'ouïe (hearing)
- le goût (taste)
- l'odorat (smell)
- le toucher (touch)
No, grief is not a sense, but a stirrer of the senses, as we see in these examples:
LA VUE - SIGHT
Soonafter our 9-year-old golden retriever passed, I saw something alarming, quelque chose I had never before noticed. Smokey, Breizh's 6-year-old son, was sporting a silver barbe, or beard.
I remember the day, not three months ago, that I saw Breizh's gray mustache (or was it white?)--after someone pointed it out to me. And I wonder, how many more things--evident, present, glaring--are we not seeing?
L'OUIE - HEARING
J'entends. I hear a whistle in Smokey's breathing, one that wasn't there before. It is le souffle of sadness and it sometimes terminates with un gros soupir.
Patting his soft, lopsided head, I murmur: Je sais, Smokey, je sais. Elle est partie, notre Breizh. Elle est partie. But it's okay. It is okay. All will be okay.
LE GOUT - TASTE
Food was tasteless, but my appetite returned on day two, arriving on a rumble of hunger pangs. But for Smokey, who lost his mama, it would be 5 days before he would show any interest in his croquettes--the sound of which used to make him do twirls in the air! This morning, no air-twirls, but he did wag his tail excitedly as I set down his bowl. His hunger had finally returned.
L'ODORAT - SMELL
Together, Jean-Marc and I buried Breizh before a field of sunflowers, in front of the laundry line where I go almost daily to dry our clothes. A wooden wine box doubles as a headstone and a shelf where we can set mementos--like the mug with Breizh's picture, which doubles as a vase.
This morning, while collecting escargot shells from the surrounding field, to set beside the vase of bougainvillea, I remembered Smokey's unusual behavior, when days before he strolled up to the grave and lay down beside it. He must sense she is here... I thought. Only to watch him walk off with half a cross!
Smokey! Bring that back! I called, hurrying up to him to retrieve the horizontal piece of the cross. Setting the broken tree limb back in place, over the grave, I stared at the cross I'd replaced. Death, it seems, has a sense of humor, too.
Smokey's hair has never felt softer, and touching him has its effet tranquillisant. I wish I'd saved a lock of Breizh's hair. Then again, what would I do with it? Wear it around my neck? No! Like those small plastic envelopes holding my children's first teeth, it would be forever hidden in a shoebox, somewhere discreet.
MY INTERGALACTIC DOG
(These paragraphs were originally posted under the "sight" section, above. But I found a better example and needed to move this one somewhere else. The concluding section seems fitting.)
On the phone with my aunt, we were talking about the planet Pluto which has been making headlines lately. "It really makes you wonder how it all began. Consider the endless galaxies!"
My aunt's words queued my mind which now pictured a vibrant midnight blue outer space with rolling waves of silver stars. Suddenly a smiling golden retriever jetted right past me! There was Breizh, riding an asteroid the size of a basketball! My head got whiplash watching her streak past me, a line of sparkly stardust in her wake. I watched as she disappeared into the future (or the past?). Oh the mystery of where exactly she is, the spirit of our sweet, golden girl.
I had to share the image of a beaming Breizh transported through space-- had to share the vision with my aunt, who very sweetly and politely responded, as if she, too, could picture that intergalactic dog of mine rocketing across the starry sky.
And it dawns on me now, clearer-headed days later, the delicateness that framed my aunt's sympathetic response. I hope to remember to react as she did the next time someone is grieving - to remember to see the intergalactic dog that is not. Nod your head wildly, utter your conviction - let her know that you see just what she sees... and so let her grieve.
* * *
Dear Reader, Thank you so much for your comforting words regarding Breizh. The empathy you shared, via the comments box and by email, helped to unblock further streams of emotion.
Here is the most recent photo of our golden girl. At the time I took the picture I did not know it would be the last, or I would have taken a thousand more. As it is, this image fills me with peace, representing, so sweetly, her ongoing journey.
Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
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