Faire de son mieux - to do one's best
La Joie de L'Ame. Where to Find The Soul's Joy

Paris Climate Talks & how to "glaner" before Global Warming

Glaner figs

glaner (glah-nay) verb

   to pick, to gather, to glean

BONJOUR... The United Nations Climate Change Conference is well underway now in Paris. Do you think it is too late to make a difference vis-à-vis global warming? 

Reading about our earth's demise has me thinking of a little known French verb -- a verb underdog if you like.  Meet the humble Glaner ("to glean"). Given the alarming statistics on global warming (some predicting extinction of mankind in the next 100 years) we may finally be motivated to literally pick up the pieces of this mess. Certain French artists  highlighted the practice years ago--making the art of gleaning as fashionable as the art of wandering. In other words, it's time to glaner as you flâner! Please read today's story.

Listen to Jean-Marc read the following text: Download MP3 or Wav file

Quand vous ferez la moisson dans votre pays, vous ne moissonnerez pas vos champs jusqu'au bord, et vous ne glanerez pas ce qui pourra rester de votre moisson; vous laisserez tout cela au pauvre et à l'immigré. - Leviticus 23:22

When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. Leave it for the poor and the foreigners living among you.

by Kristin Espinasse

In the dramatic opening scene of her memoir The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls is riding in the back of a New York taxi, wondering whether she has overdressed for the party to which she is headed, when she sees something that knocks the wind right out of her Park Avenue sails.

Out there on the curbside, an older woman wearing rags is rooting through a dumpster. On closer look, the garbage picker is Jeannette's own mother! 

As I read the page-turner memoir, I could only imagine how a daughter's heart seized up on seeing her intelligent, artistic, and once athletic mother resort to rooting through the trash. What had brought her to this? And, more curiously, why was the waste picker smiling?

It wasn't until I saw the fascinating documentary, The Gleaners and I (Les glaneurs et la glaneuse), by French filmmaker Agnès Varda, that I began to see this touching scene quite differently, and even to recall a few gleaning episodes of my own. Before writing about those, I will share some of the eloquent descriptions I gathered from viewers' reactions to The Gleaners:

... a wonderful documentary that reminds us of how much we produce and waste in the world and how the disenfranchised (and artistic) make use of that waste to survive... The characters Varda encounters are equally compelling and interestingly are not portrayed as whiny or blameful of others for their situations: they simply state how they live and we are left impressed with their ingenuity. (anonymous)

One of my favorite scenes in the film is when we are introduced to a wizened Chinese man in Paris living at home among a heap of dumpster gleanings. He has taken in a boarder—a happy-go-lucky black man who hunts the day long for discarded food and items that he himself will repair and give away to those less fortunate than himself. "Somebody might need this," the ragpicker says. Evenings, the Chinese man will cook up the dumpster chicken in one of the ovens that his resourceful roommate has brought home. As the men prepare to dine together, seated on crooked chairs and ever amazed by their "fortune", I have to reach over and hit the pause button. Have you ever seen such sweet faces, such sparkling eyes, than on these two lovely men who care for one another and for others? 

In another scene, we observe a clean-cut wirey man stooping here and there as he scours the market stalls in Paris at the end of market day. Here and there he pops a broken piece of celery or apple or lettuce into his mouth... "Beta carotene! Vitamin K! I'm a biology major," he explains, adding that though he earns a salary, he still needs to eat and by the way, he's vegetarian! He admits that cheese is a little more difficult to find, but there's plenty of tossed out bread. We later learn that though he holds a scientific diploma, this biologist chooses to sell papers outside the train station. In a touching "who'd have thunk it?" scene, we see the same garbage picker volunteering his time, each evening, to teach refugees English. His carefully illustrated blackboards featuring, among other objects, a handdrawn bike and its phonetic word equivalent, attest as much to his selfless and caring soul as to his professionalism and skill.    

There are several other heart-awakening moments in which Agnès Varda steadies her lens on the outcasts who in turn teach us more about the art of living than we will ever glean from the pages of any New York Times bestseller on the subject. The rag-wearing, sometimes toothless characters could write volumes on the subject. Meantime they have more meaningful pursuits: getting by, while managing to smile at life. 

As for my own dumpster days—as a priviledged child—I'd root unselfconsciously through the trash bin (one we shared with the neighbor), ever amazed at the ongoing source of riches (in this case--cans of Hamm's beer which could be recycled for cash after stomping the cans flat!). Our neighbor, a single, middle-aged woman, regularly replenished the trash bin with this blatantly underestimated source of income! I began to feel sorry about her loss, which to me related to her pocket book and not her liver health (I had no idea that all those cans equalled addiction). 

I regret losing the desire to salvage things (publicly, at least, though the occasional foray through a stranger's trash still happens), but I am grateful to live here in France, where gleaning is alive and well and rooted deeply in the culture! How many times during family outings has an uncle or a cousin or a grandma stooped to pick up a tumbled down apricot or a chestnut, or paused to uproot a lonely asparagus or a bunch of herbs from the edge of a neighbor's yard. "Have you seen what they charge for this at the markets?" my in-laws shake their heads. Soon they'll make up a fresh batch of herbs de provence--more fragrant and delicious than can be found on any supermarket aisle. 

When my husband returned from the States after his multi-city wine tour he brought me an unexpected surprise: two charming rush-bottom chairs!

"I found them in the airport parking lot," Jean-Marc explained, "beside the dumpster." I admit, if he had brought those home 15 years ago--as a consolation gift for his two week absence, I might have been hugely disappointed! Nowadays, I don't want the ill-fitting T-shirt that he had quickly rung up at a pricy airport trap shop. (I'd rather have a couple of bars of chocolate, or, in this case, some adorable chairs!) 

Each time I look at the chairs, I feel the same kind of affection one feels when looking at some of the characters in Agnès Varda's documentary. They are quirky. They are imperfect. They are charming. They are lovely. And, as one of the men in the film said, "they are needed."


I would love to read your thoughts on today's post and the subject of gleaning as one idea to freiner or put the breaks on global warming. Click here to comment


    - To see a preview of this wonderful film, click here.
    - Rent the entire video here or let us know if you found --gleaned it -- it somewhere ! Thanks.

Film maker Agnes Varda turns her camera lenses toward modern day gleaners--the poor, the dispossessed, the ecologically aware and the alienated--to paint a new but still somewhat romantic image of those follow along behind the parade of life, picking through its remains. - Jean E. Pouliot

I enjoyed seeing parts of France not normally seen on the screen or by tourists. In fact in some ways this documentary could serve as a kind of travelog so widely does Varda and her camera travel about the French countryside and cities. - Dennis Littrell

 I hope you enjoyed today's edition. Thank you for taking a moment to share this post with a friend. 


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"Gleaners," a much better word than "trashpicker." The Boston, Massachusetts area has a long tradition in passing on unwanted goods to new homes. Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was in graduate school, the neighboring city of Cambridge had a "clean up" week when discarders of large furniture and other items were encouraged to put things at curbside. The municipal trash collection was delayed a week, to let these things find new homes. (We still own a nice buffet acquired that way). Another neighborhood celebrates "Allston Christmas," when the area's many students move out at semester's end and leave items behind in their apartments. There are various local free stuff websites. I understand too that there are programs for restaurant and supermarket foods, a bit beyond pristine, that are shared with the needy. Good to hear that creative reuse is alive and well in France.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you,  Sally,  for all these wonderful examples! And good to read about your buffet =-)

Deborah karabin

Bonjour from Chicago. I enjoyed your words and it made me recall my own mother's remembrances from the late 20s when the man with a cart would scream RAGS AND MORE and would find discarded or be given "treasures" others considered garbage. I myself have found such treasures!

P.S. visit my site and see what I f2ffo with old hats...I just returned from Paris and love the new old...there are stores there rabat sell recycled fashion by weight!!


I save unwanted items in my attic "just in case" someone needs it. I've been able to help others when their need comes to my attention. Also, I frequent yard sales (as we call garage/tag sales in my part of the world) for items I need and sometimes hold my own yard sale. Anything left goes to Goodwill. Recycling has become a way of life for me. Even most of my true trash gets recycled. It began when I couldn't afford to buy new and just continued because it was very rewarding on several levels.


Oh dear! I am sorry to hear that you have fallen for the myth that man has caused global warming - or clmate change as they now call it due to no real evidence of warming. The lies that support the myth are numerous and the visciousness with which it is defended is appalling. The so-called 97% scientific consensus does not exist among scientist. It is based on a survey of a cherry-picked and very limited group. The antarctic ice is actually increasing and the data show no warming trend at all for decades. The NOAA data have admittedly been fudged. The proponents of the myth - who gain financially by it such as green billionaire Al Gore or gain power by regulation and taxation - will villify anyone who dares to question their myth. That is not how science works - science demands constant scrutiny for verification. The climate change mythologists attack anyone who should dare question their conclusions. And the remedies they propose are harmful to the good of humanity and would revert us back to the pre-industrial age.

John H Abeles MD

Why is it that charity-based, second-hand shops, garage sales, gleaning, recycling etc bring warmth and comfort to anyone contemplating them and, far better, participating? Is it because it allows the conviction that, at base, we can be safe with far less so that we need not fret neurotically to constantly be ambitious and expand to assure safety? Is it that we know the pretentions of status bring envy, anxiety and isolation, whereas genuine acceptance of one's lot gives peace and true companionship?... My wife wife and I find great joy in participating in acts of saving, recycling, and occasionally gleaning and salvaging (even when we can well afford to be conspicuous consumers) as acts of environmental conservation, as acts of charity and as acts of self-affirmation and simplification in a complex, stressed world. And yes, we are deemed political conservatives, but that label also can encompass private charity, environmental conservation and spontaneous individual joy and friendship...


Agree with Stan.....climate change is NOT the big threat in our world.


I'm interested in seeing a picture of the chairs Jean-Marc brought home from the airport garbage!

Kristin Espinasse

Cathy,  love what you say about recycling being rewarding on so many levels.


Hi Kristin,

I will have to watch the movie! I learned about the art of gleaning when we lived in Germany. They called it "junking" there, not sure what the German word is. There were certain days of the year where everyone would put out their unwanted items on the curb in our little town of Kitzingen. We were so excited to go out early and we would "stroll as we junked" haha....it was so fun and I think I did find an old chair that I brought home. Recently in our town there was a "free" Holiday Market. Everyone brought what they no longer wanted or needed in good condition. Everyone could just take what they wanted.

I think we are all worried about global warming but I also think the world goes through these changes on its own also. I think we contribute to it of course.

Mas de la Perdrix looks lovely!

Kristin Espinasse

Patricia and Stan, I regret writing about a topic I know so little about. I should have stuck with the topic of gleaning, period.

Marika Ujvari

Kristi, this posting is perfect for the Christmas season! Thank you!! I remember when years ago, also in December, I saw my first "dumpster diver" im downtown Denver. It was late in the day and we just came out of a restaurant with full stomachs. I was shocked at what we witnessed and not wanting to embarrass the man we looked away. Today I would act differently and help the man. There are so manu unfortunate people out there who need our help and compassion.

Kristin Espinasse

Marika,  it is encouraging to read about how these changes happen in us,  so that what we would never think of doing before now comes as second nature. 


Kristin - thank you for bringing this film to our attention. I am hoping that by sharing this information, we may be able to have a viewing here in Canada. As many other comments relate, we have lived that way here for generations; though we've never had a name for it. In the summer months there are "community treasure days" when you are encouraged to place goods on the roadside that are too good to toss out and may be just what someone else needs. Even when it isn't a designated weekend, it's not uncommon to see goods at the roadside with a "free" sign on it. They're quickly picked up. Many homes with fruit trees have large "Free apples etc" signs in the fall. Even the windfall fruit gets picked up and taken to the forest for the inhabitants there to enjoy them. Every bit helps, and the awareness that we all have too much "stuff" and some have too little, is one good way to remind us all that we are fortunate, and it doesn't take much to be generous and share.

surbuban gal

In our city (Nashville) we have a program whereby restaurants contribute food each day that hasn't been sold to a central foodbank and is then distributed to food kitchens. We also provide ways for departing college students to donate items and there are numerous "recycling sales" of children's clothing and toys. This whole city orientation was displayed when we had a masssive flood several years ago (one of the largest central city floods in American history) and the whole city turned out to rescue people and the voluntarily clean up, donate, and house those affected.

Kristin Espinasse

Deborah,  these are wonderful examples. Thanks.


I find this unbelievable that you still believe this way!


I remember getting together with the neighborhood kids and after we had tired of playing games or got really bored, someone would always come up with the idea of garbage picking. It was a lot of fun and you never knew what treasure you might find in someone's garbage. I still have two of my “finds.” The rolling pin with the green wood handles I still use to this day and a white and black trivet I use at dinner time.


Thanks Kristin,
I'm living this year in Nice [will return temporarily to California in Feb.] and love watching people find 'goodies' in the trash several times/week. Also, what
a relief for poor Mother Earth...no need to keep filling the dump and/or manufacturing more!

So sad to see that some who post here still deny that we can save the earth if we act now. If not, what creatures [and us] we will lose in the next 100 years. SAD!


I believe that we are going through a global warming whether it be a natural cyclic change on the earth or partialy man caused. IF we can help slow it down we should.I live in a very affluent area, not a big city like New York or Paris. We also have "the gleaners". We also recycle more than any area in the state. Our "dump" is completely
run on energy produced from garbage. Any "trash" brought in by the individual consumer is sorted. All is utilized in one way or another. Wood into chips for the garden, garden waste into compost, furniture, dishes, clothes, etc. into the "last stand" warehouse where it can be purchased for pennies and so on. Nothing is just tossed. And the garage sales around here are like going to Isle-sur-la-Sorgue market only much less expensive. Friends will ask "where did you get that wonderful painting, or those cute dishes, or....." and I reply..."Oh, garage sale" And it does make me feel good, and warm. And when I have a sale, I am either helping someone else or making someone happy. Silk purse or Sow's ear. All depend on what one sees.

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

Me, too!


Hi Judy-It is not a matter of my belief. I try to form opinions by my critical analysis of facts. Maybe I'm right or maybe I'm wrong, but I am always gleaning new information and open to rethinking. I won't belabor this any more out of respect for wonderful Kristin who regrets wading into these waters. All the best.

Leslie NYC

Gleaning gives the gleaner a sense of the extraordinary abundance in the world. Rich people, by contrast, rarely feel they have enough, and so are miserable a lot of the time. This is what I notice in New York.
Also, check out Gregoire Abrial's website to see his Bright Friday project. He refurbished 12 discarded objects, inlaid the word FREE somewhere in them and set them back out on the street the day after Thanksgiving 2013. Then he watched the response. I was one of the lucky ones to find a bistro chair he had re-done!


"Gleaning gives the gleaner a sense of the extraordinary abundance in the world." Yes!


During my grandmother's visits to Canada, she often remarked that people in North America spend too frivolously, buying what they do not need, without questioning their motives. I believe that gleaning is part of a more traditional European mentality. Both my parents and in-laws forage for mushrooms in the local forest. So many people would pass right by those mushrooms without taking notice! When my grandmother cooks, she uses every little bit of a whole chicken, creating three different dishes, ensuring that nothing goes to waste. I also know many younger individuals who prefer to shop in second-hand stores instead of choosing brand-new items that cost at least twice as much. I'm glad that the trend of gleaning is slowly starting spread.

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

I saw a piece on that when he did that. Lovely work! So cool you found one of his pieces that fit your home!

catharine ewart-touzot

Katia, I have to agree with your Grandmother (having lived in the United States, Canada and in several European countries )..we do get things without evaluating our motives..having been a "gleaner", love the word in this usage, since a young child..my mother once called the police thinking I was lost or stolen, but my sister and I were simply searching for new treasures in the alley. I think my motive has always been because I thought they were beautiful or could be beautiful of useful. Now thinking..did I need it was indeed quite another story. Again this ties into the global warming discussion..what is more pressing, stopping people from being killed today or trying to change ever changing climate. Climate has always changed and will always change, but there are some things that we can do to improve our world today and the world our children will inherit. The same is true of gleaning..so so much is thrown out that has lovely further value, but evidently not to the original owners...who may have replaced it with something also not needed of less value. I love some of the ideas of passing on unwanted/unneeded treasures. I am certain that you will treasure the chairs for years to come, and if there comes a time that you just decided you have too many they may still find yet another life with someone else.


One of my favorite painting is Millet's "The Gleaners".

Lanier Cordell

I love that y brought this documentary to our attention and love even more it's title. As a child I had a print of a painting titled "the Gleaners". It hung over my bed and now hangs in my guest room. I always found it peaceful-women hard at work gathering wheat in the golden sunlight. I too hate to see anything go to waste when it still has life or usefulness. When I lived in New York, I had a neighbor who worked on one of the garbage trucks in Manhattan. He picked up all the discarded furniture on his route, repaired or refinished it and sold it. He made as much money doing that as he did working for the NYC department of sanitation, which at that time paid very nice wages.

I too word like to see photos of your new chairs.

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA


Before I forget ... what is flâner?

I agree (from what I know from my associations when I worked in international business) that Europeans and Scandinavians are much more into "less is more." That is, preferring less, high quality, classic merchandise than the consumerism of the States.

In my neighborhood, people also put items at the curb. I snagged a one year old bicycle that way that a neighbor alerted me to. (Need another one of those since that one was sense stolen.) With our humidity, though, it is difficult to put out soft furniture without it becoming icky if no one picks it up before nightfall.

When in NYC, I once saw an excellent chest and once a very nice iron wine rack. I hesitated and then thought of returning when dark. LOL - someone bolder, smarter and with less fear of judgement that I made out! You'd think I'd have learned after the first incident.

I have items now that I am contemplating how to recycle. Too good to throw away, but how to find the right home for the piece. An automatic recliner in excellent working order, but needs new upholstery. (Lifetime guarantee of chair but, alas, the material started to tear at 14 months and apparently material only guaranteed for 12.) A sofa bed (the bed portion still wrapped in original cover) that could use a home with someone who could sew new cushion covers (they zip off). If I had the income, I would refurbish and then donate.

Here, Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA St. Petersburg) has a thrift store where anyone can buy from, but shelter residents can choose items for free when they move out on their own. Also, Hospice here has a thrift store managed much the same way. They sell to the public, but Hospice patients are provided vouchers. My mother needed an extra lamp for lighting near her (living room) bedside for night emergency visiting nurses, and as patients change weight / sizes they can get new clothes.

Neighbors put out bags of fruit from their citrus trees also :)

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Ktisti, do not apologize for bringing up global warming because this is a vital subject that all of us need to address. I think Stan is either living in denial or more likely just stirring the pot. There is no question that the polar caps are melting -- just one example -- and that our polar bears, unable to hunt from ice floes are dying off. The snow that topped many peaks such as Kilimanjaro has largely melted in the past decades -- this is photographically documented, not a 'myth'. This year, 2015, is the hottest on record since at least 1880. Wake up, Stanley!

Vivian Langley

Thank you for this beautiful message; I wish I could read the book. Here at the Villa Maria, we put out different kind of articles for whoever might like or need them. Also there is a lady who brings clothes, some time new garments she sells for one dollaar.

Jane Hoppe

Your post reminds me of my grandmother, who used to find treasures in the garbage room of her apartment building. When she died, I ended up with a walnut side chair with graceful carvings and a cane seat. With my daily use for many years, the caning began sagging. I put it in a closet for another ten years or so, but just recently had it recaned. It is gorgeous and complimented by anyone who enters our living room. I smile when I see it, too, to remember my grandma's knowing its value and saving the chair for its usefulness and beauty. Hope you enjoy your gleaned chairs and their story for many years to come.

Your post quotes Leviticus. I love that God and His people provided in this way for the poor and infirm who couldn't buy or grow their own food. An organic farm near us publicizes gleaning days in autumn so that volunteers can glean healthy vegetables to take to local food pantries.


I have become a gleaner here, as I live alone and don't need to waste large amounts of money on a refrigerator of food. A fellow worker gives me her sour cream and butter from her Wendy's baked potatoe, which I take home and use as I see fit. But, your article also reminded me of living with an aunt & uncle after my grandparents died, on their farm. One summer day, a man stumbled up to the front door, blood running down his head. He and his wife were picking wild asparagus by the side of the road and the property owner came up behind him and hit him on the head with a 2 x 4 board for picking said asparagus! It was shocking to see that a neighbor would be so cruel and the roadways are public property anyway and it should have been free for anyone to pick.

Kristin Espinasse

Katia,  Thanks for highlighting Leslies wonderful statement.

Bettye Dew

Well-written and thoughtful column, on a subject we should all take seriously, not just for ourselves but with future generations in mind. What is more precious than our beautiful, irreplaceable earth? There's not a substitute to be found. I saw a preview of Agnes Varda's documentary some time ago, but after your vivid description, I am eager to watch it. I will access it by clicking from your blog.

Kathleen from Connecticut

Speaking of dump diving. There is a good documentary about children in Paraguay making instruments out of things from the dump and they created a band. What wonderful music they play. Dump digging is very prevalent in many countries where the families live on the money they make by selling the items they find. What is one man's trash is another's man's treasure.
Yes, there is climate change. The glaciers are not growing but are falling into the sea.


Kristin Espinasse

Cynthia, So good to read your thoughts on this. Thanks for stepping forward. It is December first and I harvested tomatoes and raspberries this morning. And there is a sunflower about to blossom in my front yard. I dont know the facts about climate,  but last summer was unbearably hot here near Bandol,  in France. Instead of solely reading the news,  all the comments here are helping me to understand more about climate change.

Kristin Espinasse

It is so warming to see these thoughtful gifts--often arranged so artfully beside the municipal poubelle, as if to say,  Go ahead,  take me!

Kathleen from Connecticut

This is a better sight...

Kristin Espinasse

Your words brought tears,  Jane. Love what the organic farm is doing and I could visualize your grandmother and the chair--a treasure.


On a different note, here is what I "gleaned" from your thoughtful (as always) article --"getting by, while managing to smile at life"-- good food for thought.
Sad to see comments from those that deny global warning.

karen wilson

Thank you for a very thought provoking piece of writing, I love it. I also really enjoyed the book you talk about at the beginning of your piece. We did it for our book club a little while ago. I shall look at the documentary. Karen


Love this blog....nobody has all the FACTS....and we should all do what we can to stop wasting and to stop doing destructive things to our magnificent and abundant earth. Thank U for writing about this important topic, Kristin!

Heather in Arles

I am sorry to read that you regret writing about this topic, Kristin.

Last night on France 2, the state-sponsored news channel, there was a step by step explanation regarding both the many causes and current effects of global warming as well as varying hypothesis for what will happen to our planet depending on how many degrees the temperature rises in the future, including very plausible ones where there will be a mass extinction of animal-life on Earth (and that is just one of the frightening examples).

It is interesting to me that in France I have never - not once in my 14 years of living here - heard anyone question whether or not global warming exists. The separation of church and state inherent in this country's society draws the lines at what are known to be scientific facts quite clearly.

And yes, in view of the recent terrorist attacks here, there is much to be worried about and yet the COP21 has been given all priority in the news as finding a solution for our future is of utmost importance as well.

I am deeply saddened by the response of your readers that are unwilling to acknowledge either global warming or the urgence needed to find an agreement so that the world will have a brighter future than this destructive present.


Stan, Patricia, and all "deniers" -- we work, live sleep, eat and move in a world backed by scientists, many fighting people who have been brainwashed by oligarchs and their bought politicians and scientists. Wake up! Open your minds. The fossil fuel industry, over consumption, waste, greed, and brain washing backed by oligarchs have CLEARLY caused dangerous rises of CO2 in the atmosphere resulting in abnormal, critically threatening rises in global warming.


Stan, Patricia --I have been called a "Doubting Thomas",
am a fan of Socrates, spent 23 years as a public school educator, earned 2 Masters degrees, have traveled extensively, and am 88 years old -- perhaps I have gained some wisdom.


Our dear Kristi,
What a wonderful post today,and what wonderful responses!
The most important messages that I received were charity and kindness for each other and for Mother Earth.
Never enough of either one.
At my age there is an expression"more days behind than ahead".
I truly wish to make each one count,especially in unselfish ways.
Natalia. xo

Joanne Ablan

Hi, Kristin,
It seems you have generated a lot of discussion with today's Word! May I just
jump in and say that my introduction to gleaning was when I spent weekends with
my paternal grandmother who was raised on a farm, but lived near us in the Bay Area when she was elderly. Each of my siblings spent a weekend each month with her so we could be indulged as an only child and instructed in domestic arts and crafts. My grandmother would take me "shopping" to thrift stores to search for men's wool suits which she would bring home and cut into strips to use in making hooked rugs. This rug-making was a great past-timeof hers as was re-finishing furniture, sewing, cooking, and, painting (as in art, not house). Thank you for the opportunity to express a memory. Joanne, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Heather!

John Patté

I read your story immediately after having seen and replied to a Facebook post from a friend who had all of his outside Christmas lights stolen last night. His comments shook me as he was suddenly very negative, this from a man who has been posting daily Christmas-related items for two weeks already! For reasons unknown, I thought about the priest in Les Misérable who gave Jean Valjean the silver candle sticks. Perhaps the thief needed the Christmas lights more than my friend and will use them to discover the meaning of Christmas. At least, we can hope.

Kristin Espinasse

So sorry for your friend who so innocently shared his joy of the season. I hope his joie de vivre  returns!


Excellent, and much needed post. How easily we forget the importance of taking little and giving much. Thank you!
I would have loved to see a picture of those chairs!!!


Never regret anything you write. You are entitled to an opinion just like everyone else. Unless those who wrote saying global warming is not apparent is a scientist doing research in the field, their words are nothing but an opinion also. My father once told me when we were debating something that "We may not agree on a subject, but I respect your right to your opinion as I expect you will to mine." Since then, our debates have been enlightening, sometimes educational, and sometimes just having that mutual respect.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you,  Joie! And you tickled me with your comment about your local garage sales being like Isle sur la Sorgue only less expensive :)

Kristin Espinasse

Fred,  I can vouch for that wisdom of yours. Your book is among my favorites! Thanks for speaking out on this issue.

Kristin Espinasse

Joanne,  So enjoying these stories including yours about your grandmothers hooked rugs from mens suits! Just wonderful.

Mike Young

Kristin - Look for a book called "Use Less Stuff" by Robert Lilienfeld & William Rathje. The title says it all. The BBC broadcast two documentaries called "war on Waste" by a UK writer and restaurant owner called Hugh Fearnley Whittingall. In UK about 30% of food in supermarkets is thrown away.

On a personal note, before I put out by black bag containing trash to go to landfill, I weight it. This week was 128g and it is rarely more than 500g.


I hope you will post a photograph of the adorable repurposed chairs soon!

Heather in Arles

Voila, exactly Cynthia - the last time that I flew over Kilimanjaro I was shocked by the fact that there was virtually no frozen zone left! And I agree with Kristin, this past summer was off the charts.

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

I did not know that the painting, The Gleaners, was by anyone but Vincent van Gogh. That is the one I saw, somewhere in my life. Now I learn he did his painting, in his style, but as a copy inspired by Millet, the original painter. As to formal and informal recycling of goods, I am all for it! And for removing the huge amount of waste of perfectly good food in our modern way of growing and distributing food. In my area, the Greater Chicago Food Depository tries its best to rectify that problem, of putting food about to be trashed, into the hands of people who will eat it and be glad.

Interesting post. Also interesting to see how the French title needs no "I" to convey the meaning.

In other words, it's time to glaner as you flâner!
That means, glean as you stroll about. Do I have it? But with no rhyme in English


PS: I live in Lafayette, LA., ..I have a new crop of figs...tree is loaded????i It is December...
Beautiful large figs but no taste whatsoever! Is nature confused?


Me too! S'il te plaît avoir une photo des chaises! :)


Loved the post. Ah yes, the things that supermarkets toss into their dumpsters! My parents routinely rummaged the dumpster outside their nearby market and came up with expensive food treasures that had little or nothing wrong with them. I myself for years have liked to buy the over ripe peaches at the farmers markets - ones with blemishes and all - and make peach chutney. Unfortunately, the last time I attempted to do this I was told by the farmer rep that they are no longer allowed to sell blemished of over-ripe fruit. What a shame! No more chutney and wasted fruit that is better than the hard-as-rock ones they sell. Yard sales, alley combing, and donations to local charity stores are terrific. I buy most of my clothes and kitchen items at thrift stores and get better quality at a fraction of the price. How else could I afford two beautiful homes???? There is no shame in using what would otherwise be wasted. Suzanne in Long Beach, California


Actually when I was there in 2001 it wasn't too bad. My sister and I came home with those cheese pots with the holes in them and 16 old worm holed wooden shoe inserts....from childrens to large footed ones. I have never been one to bring back the obvious from my travels....much more fun.


Oh my! Get your head out of the sand. Try spending a winter in Boston or a summer on the West Coast (whole towns with now water, empty reservoirs, dry rivers and more). Have you heard the weather reports around the world lately? No doubt, there are natural climate trends that affect our weather events, however our so-called "civilized" society is certainly contributing to this problem, so the least we can do is to try our best to ensure that we don't exacerbate the problem. Wake up, Stan! Suzanne

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Mike. I will look up the book. And that is remarkable how little trash you create. Bonne continuation!

Kristin Espinasse

Suzanne,  yes,  that is a shame about stores only putting out perfect fruit. The other day I asked for spotted bananas and the green grocer said he didnt have any. As I drove off,  it occurred to me he probably did have them... In the back dumpster. I would have paid for them! There is a movement,  however,  called Ugly Fruits and Vegetables,  and it is doing a good job to bring awareness that ugly produce is good to eat! Also,  I think it is now against the law for grocery stores in France to toss bleach over the produce theyve tossed in the dumpster.  Now those who are hungry can--safely--salvage some food.

Susan in Florida

A friend and I time our morning walks so we get to "review" what people have put out as "trash" for the city crew to pick up. We have found some true treasures, and some things that we took home to enjoy for awhile, then put out for someone else to enjoy. AND, we get exercise as we do it!

Devra Long

Kristi; I just loved today's story and the word gleaning will become part of my vocabulary; what a great word! When we were in Avignon in October I saw a very well dressed young woman gleaning in a dumpster; filling her shopping bag; I watched her and was fascinated and wished I could see what treasures she had found!

Kristin Espinasse

Susan,  sounds like fun!

Mercy Burton Russell

Thank you Kristin for this mind-expanding description of work pride, wealth and compassion.


Hi Kristin,

I just finished watching Les Gleaners et La Glaneuse. It gives me something to think about. It's one thing to pick about trash for fun and to find a treasure that someone left behind, but quite another to truly need to pick through trash just to find something to eat. It's very sad the amount of food that is wasted all around the world.

Heather in Arles

Kristi, here is a link to a great article in the NY Times: "Short Answers to Hard Questions about Climate Change":


Stan might want to take a look at question #10.

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Heather, I look forward to reading it. Thank you!


Food gleaning helps landfills last longer, too, which saves tax dollars. Here's an amazing story of food rescued: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/18/456489490/in-just-eat-it-filmmakers-feast-for-6-months-on-discarded-food

John Morgan

Dear Kristin

Thank you. Your article on gleaning has had a very positive effect on me. It has reminded me of the reason we are all here on the planet.
We are here to help each other, to protect what we have for future generations and to enjoy what our parents and ancestors passed down to us.
I always look forward to your intimate, personal and often heartwarming stories and wish you and your husband the utmost success in your endeavours in sustainable viticulture.


Happily the film is available on Amazon Prime, so I'll be watching it very soon! And I must say that I've always been an avid supporter of up-cycling and have been known to wander around my neighbourhood on 'bulk pick-up' day to 'glean' some very usable and useful items of furniture!

Robyn Daniels

Hold up! Months ago when I lived in Turkey where 'dumpster diving' for recycling is common practice due to poverty and necessity, I remember reading an article about my new adoptive country France leading the field by forcing supermarkets to recycle unsold food. Bravo! Let's give credit where it is due ....

edie schmidt


If you haven't seen it. I highly recommend the documentary "Wasteland" by Brazilian artist Vik Muniz. He created portraits from recycled materials of pickers at the largest landfill in Brazil. It's an amazing film.

Edie from Savannah

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks,  Edie. I have hurt made a note to watch it.


Cynthia, joie, Judy, Fred- There is a lot more to the climate change issue to consider. While the media, academia and the government are enforcing the climate change orthodoxy with an iron fist censorship that demonizes those who question it with such nasty terms as "deniers," there are nevertheless some courageous folks who stand up to that with an open minded analysis of the facts. In our beloved France recently, Philippe Verdier, the well known TV weatherman, wrote a book - Climat Investigation - which was politically incorrect because it demonstrated flaws in the conventional climate ideology, for which he was fired. http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/03/europe/france-weatherman-sacked-climate/

The "settled science" argument is argued to be a political fiction, see the Wall Street Journal "The Myth of the Climate Change 97% by Joseph Bast and Roy Spencer, May 26, 2014 http://www.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303480304579578462813553136

Joe Bastardi, a world renowned meteorologist who is famous for his accurate predictions, is a frequent guest on TV and was the forecaster for Accuweather, claims that the data show that the Earth was warmer in the 1930s and is cooler now, and that CO2 does not cause warming to any large degree https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Bastardi
He is predicting a very cold winter for England and northern Europe this year.

For information about recent developments and scientific opinion see the site for International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project http://www.icecap.us/

Lord Christopher Moncton in England is a serious critic of the warming theory and has assembled a large body of evidence casting doubt on it - see http://www.lordmoncktonfoundation.com/

Dr. Davis Evans, Ph.D. from Stanford Univ., publishes a site ScienceSpeak with a section on climate that posits that less than 20% of warming since the 1970s was due to carbon dioxide, and that we are about to enter a cooling phase in the next few years. http://sciencespeak.com/climate.html

The NASA data show an increase in the antarctic ice. http://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/617144/Antarctica-not-shrinking-growing-ice-caps-melting.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospereic Agency (NOAA) has been manipulating weather data to support climate change theory and is currently under Congessional investigation. http://dailycaller.com/2015/11/17/noaa-spreading-false-news-about-gop-investigation-of-temperature-data/

Rather than engage in a free and open debate, many high level apologists for climate change castigate, even demonize dissenters. It has gone so far as to charge that skeptics should be charged as criminals. That is certainly not the way science should operate (remember Galileo). Especially when the climate alarmists are proposing radical "solutions" that will empower government, enrich governments climate cronies, and push us back into a 19th century lifestyle, we should scrutinize the bases for the dire conclusions.

I offer these comments respectfully to my fellow Francophiles as food for thought. (How do you say that in French?)

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you,  John!

Franca Bollo

Stan, please cite your sources so we can all learn about these lies.

Franca Bollo

Care to cite some sources to back your claim?

Kendal Stitzel

I am catching up on old postings and don't know if anyone will read this comment after all this time. You show your usual good heart in thinking of the gleaners and those who do with less and even live off what others throw away. I was introduced to this while camping out by chance with three hobos in the mountains of California while waiting to catch a freight train that would take me back to Colorado. I had a job to go back to, and it was a shock to meet people who lived outside of the system and relied on free food, found things, the seeming waste of society.

As for climate change, that is something that anyone so intimately concerned with wine and grapes and growing things should be greatly concerned about. Sadly, we are being lied to. Not by the scientists but by the people making money off of the status quo--and some of the same people that lied to us for years about the dangers of tobacco. See Naomi Oreskes book, "Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming". http://tinyurl.com/gmmfqnp

I'm afraid Stan has cited sources from many of these lies. "Lord" Christopher Moncton, for example, is not a lord and blatantly lies about once being a science adviser to Margaret Thatcher. This isn't a matter of stifling dissent. This is a matter of combating lies that are putting us all in danger!

For better sources, I would recommend:

The Guardian's climate page: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-change

Climate Denial Crock of the Week, hard-hitting videos with real scientists, easily understood by us non-scientists: http://climatecrocks.com/

Katherine Hayhoe's web page; she is a climate scientist and an evangelical Christian who clearly makes the moral case for helping our fellow humans by taking action--and is a wonderful explainer of science as well: http://katharinehayhoe.com/wp2016/

Good luck to us all and God bless!

Ketterman Rowland & Westlund

Trump says he's willing to work with Democrats to enter the Paris agreement again or to negotiate a new agreement that is fair to the United States.

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