Esprit + Explaining your religion in France.....a tricky undertaking
Dazed in Reims: A boxing incident lands Max in ER

Fillette: A look back in time


We return home to France in two days. Here is a vocabulary-packed story from 2014. Bye for now...and wish us bon voyage!

une fillette (fee-ette)

    : a little girl

Audio File: listen to the French word fillette (file by Wikipedia):

Improve your French pronunciation with  Exercises in French Phonetics


    by Kristin Espinasse

Waiting at the bus stop in Bandol, warm inside our car, Jackie reviewed her textile lesson while I spied some of the technical vocabulary on her study sheet....

"Ourlet. Ha! I know that word. It's on the tip of my tongue... Oh yes, "hem"! Now to pronounce it: ohr.... ohr... ohr-lay!"

"Mom!" Jackie sighed.

"Oh, sorry!"

I left my daughter to study, turning my attention to the holiday lights that circled high up into the municipal arbres. The tree garland reminded me of Arizona, where our paloverdes and even our cactuses are illuminated this time of year. And just like back home in Phoenix, there were palm trees here, their trunks circled high with holiday lights!

As I admired the twinkling trees, a shiny spot tickled the corner of my eye. I looked over to discover the glittery backpack of a little girl who had just gotten out of her father's car.

I watched as the father adjusted le sac à dos. The little girl helped by lifting her lopsided ponytails out of the way. Next, the fair-haired darling spun around, lifted her face and her smile was met by a tender kiss as her father reached down and bid her bonne journée.

"Look at that sweet little girl!" I said to Jackie. But as soon as I spoke my eyes filled with tears.

Those little sagging socks at her ankles, that crooked part separating her pigtails, those pink and purple pom-poms that dangled from her backpack. How it all brought me back.

"You are all grown up now!" I looked over at Jackie, whose tie-dyed hair fell over her study sheet. Well into her teens--and with the groovy locks to prove it--she would soon trade fad for formality. Lately, she spoke of wanting a more soigné or sleek look. I could just see her cutting off her blond locks in favor of a glossy, dark carré, or blunt cut. The day was coming.

I ran my hand across my 16-year-old's soft head as we watched the little girl turn toward the bus. 

"Elle est mignon!" Jackie agreed.

The more I watched the little girl, the more I saw childhood slipping away as it now stepped, with its sagging pink socks, onto the bus....

"Look at my eyes. I'm crying!"

"Maman..." Jackie reached over and kissed my cheek.

I didn't mean to be over-dramatic by pointing out the tears. But I had learned, not too long ago, to let 'em see you cry!--a stretch after years of never letting 'em see you sweat! 

As my daughter lay her head on my shoulder, I told her a family history:

When your dad and I split, twenty or so years ago,  I went to gather my thoughts at a nearby cafe. But those thoughts were suddenly blasted as I glanced over at a nearby table. The woman sitting there laughed with joy as she held a newborn baby in her arms. When my eyes hooked on that infant, a deep pulling began to rake through my body, collecting tears as it advanced. I quickly paid for my coffee and rushed off as tears poured out. I had never before felt that maternal instinct. And now it was too late. The father of my unconceived child had said it was over between us.

My throat grew tight as I told my daughter the story of her near non-existence. 

"But I came back! And I had you!" I said, giggling. It was time to lighten up the conversation!

"No, you had Max..." Jackie pointed out, in typical sibling rivalry.

"Yes, but then I had YOU. And what would life be like without my little girl?" I turned and looked out the window once more, in wonderment. 

The man beside the car in front of us watched his little girl climb the stairs of the bus. When her glitter and pom-pom backpack disappeared into the bus, he turned to me and smiled. Then he got into his car and drove off... as mysterious, as forgiving, and as promising as Father Time.

une fillette = little girl
un ourlet = hem
l'arbre = tree
le sac à dos = backpack, rucksack
une bonne journée = a good day
le carré = blunt cut, bob
elle est mignon = she is cute

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First french essais
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Yellow flowers
In today's post I mention a time in the future when my daughter will have a dark carré, or blunt cut.  Click here to see a picture taken 4 years after the story was written.

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