Gérer, débrouiller: How to Let Go...and Grow.
le déchet : What the tourists regularly toss into our garden

A near disaster & Ouf! Phew!

Tiles and bamboo and golden retriever
Sometime during her second week in France, Mom moved out of grandson Max's room and into her own independent "space." Here's a view looking down from my bedroom, to Mom's "front patio" (really just the edge of our driveway that meets the house). In order to block the view of our cars--and the slew of tourists who pass by on their way to the beach--we've set up this privacy wall for Mom. As Jules slowly builds her nest out of what she has been given (a former "a wine cellar" I mentioned previously; in reality it is a badly converted garage.... We plan on renovating it for mom this spring. Meantime, Mom is a trooper even on difficult days when she can't get the old green curtain to slide across the ugly blue rod, or when a big rock (holding up a sink skirt) tumbles off the tiny kitchen counter--hitting her big toe! Then there's the European (only for peein'?) compost toilet. Excuse the bad joke but it helps to laugh at a time like this. (Easy for me to say!) Please wish Jules bon courage as she settles into her new life in France--not as glamorous as it may seem! More in a future post. For now, I have another story for you...

Today's word: OUF!

    : phew! (that was a close one!) 


  by Kristi Espinasse

I was all set to tell you about the miraculous relationship between our golden retriever and our chickens...when the former walked in with feathers all over him!

Des plumes partout....

Feathers on his cheeks. Feathers on his nose. Feathers on his lashes and...feathers in his throat? I ran over to my dog as little white puffs drifted to the ground like snowflakes landing on his paws--the gentle descent of plumes in contrast to the chilling scene going on in my mind.

"Smokey! What have you done? Qu'est-ce que t'as fait?!" I pried open my golden retriever's mouth and found feathers stuck on his tongue!

Hurrying outside I searched for our chickens, especially the Sussex hen, "Sweetie." Ouf! There she was--along with her sidekick, "Little Edie," eating her way through our veggie patch. Never was I so happy to see our feathered foragers ransacking the potager!  
Sweetie between the peppers and the lemon verbena

Sweetie's rump--with all its soft white feathers intact--faced the sky as she pecked at a pumpkin vine, right beside a tomato plant that had literally risen from the ashes and compost beneath her.

I shook my head and smiled but my relief was short lived when I noticed the state of the henhouse: a pile of feathers in the center. The plumes were much longer than chicken feathers... I wondered, C'était la tourterelle? Did one of the doves meet its demise inside?

The turtledoves sometimes wander into the poulailler to glean what seeds remain. I remembered, too, how Smokey sometimes enters the tiny poulailler (the door slightly larger than himself) to do the very same: eat birdseed!

Piecing together the evidence, it seemed Smokey had wittingly or not trapped a dove inside...and the temptation was apparently too much! My heart sank.

My mom searched the yard before delivering some good news: no dove to be found. The little tourterelle surely made it out of the henhouse and back up to the telephone line or its nest nearby.

Of course, there is that possibility that Smokey swallowed the little creature whole....  Quelle horreur! Perhaps we'd do better to focus on life's beautiful mysteries--such as how a bird dog continues to live in harmony with a couple of hens. Indeed, after losing his mama, a lonely Smokey has found a couple of sure companions.

Little Edie and Sweetie

une plume = feather
partout = everywhere
ouf! = phew!
le potager = kitchen garden
le poulailler = hen house
c'était = was it
la tourterelle = turtle dove
quelle horreur! = how awful!

To Glean (Glâner) -- Don't miss this post from the archives, the story about Agnès Varda's must-see documentary The Gleaners and I. 

Hen house and turtle dove
Turle dove and chicken coup--and a collection of green bombonnes or "dame-jeanne's" for wine 

A Message from KristiFor 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.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety