Jean-Marc (here, with grape stains...) and Kristi will be in Denver soon, for a wine tasting of Provence and Chateauneuf du Pape wines that Chief Grape exports to Colorado. This event will take place September 13th from 3 to 6 PM at The Vineyard Wine Shop, 261 Fillmore Street, Denver, CO 80206. Tel : 303 355 8324 We look forward to seeing you there!
Just for today, we are going to reverse the format and begin with the vocabulary list from the story:
ça y est = that's it
c'est presque la rentrée = it's almost back to school
l'ardoise (f) = slate, blackboard
le pistou = vegetable soup with basil
la courgette = zucchini
le basilic = basil
sans le savoir = unwittingly, unknowingly
le gilet = cardigan
une tuerie = something "die for" delicious
la fleuriste = florist, flower shop
le ressentiment = resentment
j'ai la fringale = I'm so hungry! I'm starving!
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse
A light Mistral is sweeping through our neighborhood, taking with it the last of the tourists. Ça y est, c'est presque la rentrée!
It felt good to walk along the breezy streets, letting my hand glide along the stuccoed fences, their scratchy surfaces awakening me to the moment. Farther on, a black ardoise read: "Le Pistou de Grandmère." Yes, it is that time of year for Provençale bean soup--with courgettes, basilic, and haricots...I made a mental note to tell Mom about the day's special, in case she might feel up to going out....
At the post office, I recognized a certain clerk I'm fond of. Tanned, her hair in a no-fuss ponytail, she has wrinkles so deep you can see their tan lines (light in the creases). After I stepped up to the counter, the clerk began weighing my letter and there began an amusing dialogue between herself and the computer:
"Mais prends ton temps," By all means, take your time! she said, patting the screen. Ah, je vois...tu bug! Oh, I see, you have a bug! Mais, vas-y. Well, go ahead (and bug then)!
As the postal clerk cajoled the machine, I enjoyed her vas-y "live and let live" attitude: Let others do as they will--including technology! It is all out of our control. The best we can do is stay out of the way. I thanked the clerk who'd, sans le savoir, brightened my day, and I headed to the farmers market.
There was Naty behind the produce scale. Her dark blond hair, in a bun all summer, now fell to her shoulders. She was wearing a woolen gilet--proof the heatwave was over!
"Ça, c'est une tuerie!" This is to die for! Naty said, savoring a giant green fig. I filled a small paper bag with the fruit, thinking it would please my Mom (a loaf of bread...and a bouquet from la fleuriste...would eventually be added to this "Peace" gift, which was building and building, like a series of hurt feelings...).
"Naty," I said, "Remind me of that word you used last week, the expression for 'I'm hungry'".
"J'ai la fringale!" Naty replied, "and it means "I am REALLY REALLY hungry. I'm starving!"
I leave you with this colorful expression, Dear Reader, and a few other things to chew on from today's missive, namely the encouragement to get out and experience the day (and then your cares will naturally slip away).
* * *
Update: Mom accepted my peace offering...and gave me some presents in return: a bowl of her homemade bouillon and a moment in her garden (next to the garage) on her favorite chair with its zebra-striped pillows (the ones she'd packed into one of four suitcases when she moved here from Mexico). "Breathe deeply," Mom said, offering me the gift of peace. "And look up at the sky. Always look up at the sky!"
Both of us seemed relieved to be out of the sulks, or what grandmother Germaine might have called le boudoir (I leave you with the story of an inspiring Frenchwoman).
(Thanks to my friend, Berina, for the folloing photo of Mom and me.)
The painted sign reads: "To live well, love well, and let the others say what they will!" Pour bien vivre, bien aimer, et laisser dire. (Picture taken during a family vacation in the Aosta Valley, Italy.)
A Message from Kristi: For twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.
Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check (to this new address)
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety