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French Word-A-Day: Brevet + Max's exciting news!

French Word-A-Day: Gourde + summer camp in France

Photo taken this morning, while out on a walk with Dad and Smokey (can you find him in this photo?) My family leaves soon. We are busy making memories. Speaking of les souvenirs, here is a story from 2006, when our son, Max, was eleven years old and on his way to camp....

une gourde (goord) noun, feminine
   1. gourd, flask, canteen
   2. simple (mind), maladroit
   3. Haitian currency (the Haitian gourde)

gourd, gourde (adjective): dull, numb (cold); dopey, clumsy

On appelle familièrement gourde une personne un peu sotte.
Informally, we call someone who is not very bright "gourde".

                                  --from the French Wikipedia, "gourde"

- in the heart of Provence. Click HERE.
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by Kristi Espinasse

(From the 2006 blog archives...)

I hope he finds his way to the bathroom at night
, I think, wrapping a piece of tape around my son's new lampe de poche before using a permanent marker to label it "ESPINASSE, Max". One of the first things I learned when I moved to France was that the French always capitalize last names; presently I could use a lesson on how to label dark socks....

I examine the navy blue chaussettes in one hand and my navy blue marker in the other. The dark socks will be difficult to mark, just like the flashlight and the gloves were. Too late to order iron- or sew-on labels. I remember the roll of tape. Sure, it will come off in the wash... but then the packing instructions indicate that there will be no laundry service during the first week of summer camp! I stick a piece of labelled tape on the foot of each sock, happy to tick one more item off the list. I hope his feet will be warm enough.

The light blue bob is easy to mark: ESPINASSE, Max (just under the bill), as is the tube of crème solaire. Will he think to put on his hat? Will he protect his little freckled nose with the sun block? And the back of his neck? The merciless Alpine sun now haunts me.

Max sits on the edge of the bed, twirling his Equipe de France soccer ball. "Mom!" he protests, embarrassed to see me labeling even the little packets of Kleenex.

"But it says here to mark 'TOUTES les affaires'," I explain, waving the list titled "Trousseau de base." My son points a finger to his temple and taps it. A little dingue you are, he signals. His sparkling eyes and toothy smile soften my defense.

I open the smallest bag, and move the new orange toothbrush and the comb aside. I hope he'll find relief up north from his chronic allergies... with that, I slip the tissues in and zip the small tote shut.

When I've labeled every sock, bottle, comb, tube, gourde and packet, I turn to my sparkly-eyed son. I feel like a dope marking so many unprecious items against loss, when all I really want returned from camp is this eleven-year-old boy.

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French Vocabulary

une lampe de poche = flashlight; la chaussette (f) = sock; le bob (m) = cap (hat); la crème solaire (f) = sunscreen; toutes les affaires (fpl) = all of the belongings; trousseau de base = (packing) basics: clothes, accessories, linens...; dingue = crazy; la gourde (f) = canteen

Max is now all grown up, and enjoying summertime with friends. No more camp, but there is always petanque! (Max is in the white shorts and dark blue T-shirt).

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