The Lost Gardens by Jean-Marc and Kristi Espinasse
Ragout: Simple recipe for Provencal stew + kitesurfing in Giens peninsula, near Hyérès

Hérisser: from a prickly a verb to help describe an emotion we all felt last week

Writing desk

Ten days ago, my husband and I launched a book and then everything went up in flames--here on the homefront and there, inside Notre Dame. As emotions billowed up all around, we stepped back, stepped away, and then finally stepped up to the plate again. The next installment of our book is up, and we are going to take things chapter by chapter, dealing with the emotions as they surface (unexpectedly, as they did last week). Meantime, everyone who has ever loved Notre Dame will have experienced today's verb. I know our son did, when he walked into the room to share the news. Standing there in shock, every hair on his arms stood up:

Today's word: se hérisser

    : to ruffle, to stand on end (hairs), to bristle

*un hérisson is a prickly hedgehog

Click here to listen to the following sentence

Une émotion est un ensemble de réponses automatiques à des situations extérieures. Il y a des réponses corporelles bien sûr : le cœur s'accélère, les poils se hérissent, la sueur coule sur le visage... --Futura
An emotion is a set of automatic responses to external situations. There are bodily responses of course: the heart is accelerating, the hairs are bristling, sweat is running down your face ...


As someone who writes about French life, I often feel the pressure (and sometimes the need) to address a current event here in my blog or, as one ruffled reader wrote (years ago, following a series of terrorist attacks) "on your platform! Why aren't you talking about (said political issue) on your platform! By not saying anything you are saying something."

But what is a writer to do when a crisis is happening both on the national front--and on the homefront? 

As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, niece, and a woman going through the throws of le cinquantaine, I went into preservation mode last week. I know that sounds dramatic, given the much bigger news of Notre Dame burning down. Honestly, that day seemed like an omen. A very bad omen.

On the bright side--the bright side being the side I have always chosen to write about (the exception being certain chapters in the current book my husband and I are writing...)--on the bright side, thanks to the love and generosity of many, Notre Dame will be rebuilt.  

Last week, certain our book project had come to an end....only days after it had even begun, and still in survival/panic mode, I reasoned, You can always reimburse everyone for their book purchase!

Indeed, my fingers were very near the Paypal mass-refund button! Instead, Dear Reader, we are going to keep writing. Keep telling our story. My hope is that many of you will relate to our choices, our trials, and our faith. In fact, I think most of you will. I trust we are all very much alike and that stories like ours will give others the courage to follow their dreams, to stay committed to their families, and to try and see a bigger picture when life's ups and downs threaten to throw us off track.

The first two installments have now been published on the book site. Jean-Marc and I have written three full chapters. Those pages will go up gradually. If you have not yet purchased our book-in-progress, you can do so now and read the raw chapters before anything gets edited out!

Having felt deep sadness and regret, and hairs that stand on end or se hérissent, let's move forward! Let's keep building, stone by stone, chapter by chapter. And have faith that a year from now, things will look quite differently. What matters in any event--and in any relationship--is the will to rebuild.

For those who have purchased the book, click here to access  the next installment

To purchase our book-in-progress, click here and scroll to the end of the post

Note: after your purchase, a new browser window will open in your browser with the link to the book site and the passwords needed Look for that new window!

If you have purchased the book and need the passwords to access it: email your Paypal receipt to

Silly pic
Photo of me and Jean-Marc taken yesterday. Greasy (me) and unshaven (him). If we look like we've been dragged over the coals of emotion....We have! (And one of us lost a wedding ring in the process...) More in the upcoming chapters of The Lost Gardens (not to be confused with one's private garden. And therein lies the challenge: to tell our personal story with dignity and the right amount of privacy). Thank you for reading our memoir and book in progress

A Message from Kristi
Thank you for reading my language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on the creative process of writing. My wish is to continue offering posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

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