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Freedom & Fer: L’homme est né libre et partout il est dans les fers.

Bird tracks on the beach and the sea
Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains. Don't miss the translation, below.

Today's Word: le fer

    : iron
    : shoe, horseshoe
    : rail

les fers = chains

Click here to listen to the following sentence

L’homme est né libre et partout il est dans les fers.  --Jean-Jacques Rousseau

    by Kristi Espinasse

Have you ever noticed the self-imposed prisons we sometimes check into when we put limits on our freedom? Jean-Jacques Rousseau famously wrote: L’homme est né libre et partout il est dans les fers.
La liberté is a gift. To some it is a right. Either way it is something to be thankful for each and every day, so why would anyone ever restrict their own champ des possibilités
We do this in ways in which we are often unaware...
Out walking along the seafront this morning, I suddenly froze at the sight of a familiar figure in the distance. I felt the urge to turn around and hurry home, or else bump into somebody I was avoiding. I could have bucked up and continued on, but it would have been an awkward march forward. Which, come to think of it, is better than a bloody march forward, as those who have fought for our freedom have suffered on not-so-distant sandy shores....

Because of this absurd social dilemma I now had to change directions, which was dommage as it would curtail my daily walk (an exercise that began a year ago, with the goal of restoring peace of mind. Quelle ironie!
Alors, in a quick change of itinerary, I took up a parallel path on the sandy beach just below. By zigzagging up and down the narrow plage I could elongate this alternate route and--unexpected bonus-- improve my workout, thanks to the different niveaux along the beach, and to the sable, which is more challenging to walk on.
No sooner did I begin snaking my way home (down to the water, back to the boardwalk, and down again) than I became aware of just how dorky this looked (in comparison to the other morning sportifs, all advancing in a straight line, on a designated path), for who loops up and down a narrow beach if not a loopy person! 
Oh, but it was enjoyable while it lasted! even if the couple in their beach chairs stared (I swear I could read their thought bubbles: "What's up with Loopy Doop?").
That's when a thought bubble of my own came up: YOU HAVE GOT TO PRACTICE YOUR FREEDOM! 
This was true... And here! And now!

At that moment I looked down and saw hundreds of fine tracks in the sand--made up of little affirming steps just like mine! The tiny four-toed footprints zigzagged and looped up and down the beach... What was striking was who left these exquisite tracks... it was no other than the symbol of freedom herself. For who is freer than a bird? 

Allez. En avant! No matter your setbacks, keep moving forward in your own original way, thankful all the while for the freedom to be able to do so.
Doves by the sea in la ciotat
les fers = chains
partout = everywhere
la liberté = freedom
le champ des possibilités = field of possibilities
dommage = too bad
quelle ironie = How ironic
alors = so
la plage = beach
le niveau = level
le sable = sand
le sportif = athlete
allez = go on!
en avant = keep move forward

Bird tracks on the beach


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henrik docker

Les Mots d Rousseau = un paradox prët de idioti. Tell that to the slaves!
I thought that the French word for the English chaine was chaines?
Henrik Docker

Sarah LaBelle

Sweep the beach clean, and the birds take a walk on it. Beautiful photo.


Nice....especially today. Freedom.


What a beautiful photo to accompany your thoughtful post.


Bonjour Kristin!
I am Reading the novel The Wimemaker’s Wife by Kristin Harmel about another kind of freedom. It is based on real life Resistance activities in Champagne France at the beginning of WW11, and I think you would enjoy it! Have a fancy free day! Xo


Lovely post.

Thank you for that.

Carrie Garczynski

si vrai, si vrai! Especially for today in the US.


Ah, but you are still not free enough to deal with that other person you were avoiding. I hope you can reach a reconciliation and really feel free.

Angie Quantrell

Beautiful pictures! What a great exercise!


Beautiful photo of birds’ footsteps in the sand. Perhaps somewhere they are carrying each other! Bon courage.

Alanna Strong

For the short term, borrow some freedom from your mother until you have it for yourself. Jules has always struck me as inordinately free.
A fan of both of you!
PS I hope you get to go watch the America’s Cup Trials this week in Marseille. Those boats fly!


Gorgeous image of the birds in flight! I love the message Kristi!


Dear Kristi,
Thanks for being courageous enough to share your vulnerability. You honoured your self by doing what you felt you needed to do in the moment regardless of how it looked to others. Self care like that shows wisdom. Love your blog!
Sidney British Columbia


That's exactly what I was thinking!

Jerry Wood

My brother was a tail gunner in WWII. He cam back a broken man.
He once said to me,” if you kill a person you will never get over it. He died at 40 in a alcoholic stooper.
He lost his sanity andlife so I could be free.si triste n'est-ce pas


Sometimes it is difficult to reconcile with someone who has hurt us deeply. It is a difficult predicament: continue past that person with a polite "bonjour" or detour as Kristin has done. Unfortunately the latter does take some of our freedom away.
Kristin, this would be a good topic for your writing. I am curious as to the harm this person committed that you would be willing to lose some of "la liberte". I guess you want to point out in this essay that "tout est bien qui finit bien".


Our Dear Kristi,
Oh!Your pictures are glorious and absolutely capture my imagination!You not only create pictures with your words but words with your pictures!!
I applaud you for turning and taking another path.
It is a sign of of maturity to put our own bien etre
in an uppermost position.This includes a confrontation
which is best left avoided.(It just happened to me and I only wish I had taken my own advice beforehand).
The Winemakers Wife is an excellent read,as is All The Flowers In Paris by Sarah Jio.
Thank you,Kristi,for this thought provoking post!
Natalia. xo

Carolyn Chase

Interesting imagery. Glad you felt free to move as you chose.


Nice read. When using French words, please include the article—masculine or feminine or neutral. Thanks!


"les fers" are irons, which chains are made of. Like old novels, the prisoner was put in irons. Bonjour a Copenhague!


My father was in the counterintelligence corps in WW II. My mother said that he was totally changed by the war. Oui, c''est triste...


The Rousseau quote sounds prescient. It sounds like Karl Marx or Albert Camus....


What a beautiful path you chose. Self care is not always easy but can be very rewarding. Love both the photos.

Kathleen Bidney


I love the bird tracks. They remind me of cross stitching. Your picture also makes me think of Lucien Clergue’s Language des Sables. Check him out if you don’t know him. I met him 20 or so years ago when I took a photography course in Fontvieille, in Provence.
I would suggest that you don’t shy away from that person, but approach them and try to mend the problem (but of course I don’t know what it entails). But it is better to forgive than to harvest resentment. You may never be friends but it will take less of your energy once confronted.


Marianne Rankin

An interesting post. Congratulations on another magnificent photo, Kristin. The birds at the beach at sunset is wonderful. I hope you have set up an "album" to save some of your superlative shots.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Marianne!

Kristin Espinasse

Jerry, Thank you for sharing your brothers words and story. Our hearts go out to him and to those he poignantly spoke of, and to the family and friends of these men.


Love the photo and your thoughts Kristi!

Gail V

Dear Kristin...you truly are the courageous one here. To create beauty with words and to share them for the world to see is beyond brave. I feel so grateful to have this opportunity to read your lovely posts. Judy's gracious comment about caring for your self is wise. We don't know your experience and you alone have the wisdom to choose when and how to deal with past issues. Follow your heart as you did on your meandering morning walk.❤

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Gail. So touched by your message. 💕


As a Christian, I am required to be foolish toward God (faith in God and in His Word usually would seem to require a suspension of God-given intelligence and logic) but I am not required to be foolish towards men. Before bringing them back into relationship with him and to live with him in Egypt, before even revealing his identity to them, Joseph in the Bible, as ruler of Egypt, put his brothers through various tests which from their utterances and conduct showed that these were not the same selfish, wicked, jealous, hateful men who had sold him into slavery many years previously. To forgive is not to forget THE LESSONS LEARNED. I can forgive a person, pray for them and love them FROM A DISTANCE because this is NECESSARY to protect my family, and/or for my own mental, emotional, financial health, peace of mind and even reputation (reputation because, for example, there are, unfortunately, persons who ALWAYS, inevitably, take something you say and twist it beyond all recognition and original context and spread it to others; or, put completely different, complex meanings and motives to innocent, guileless, and ordinary actions of yours and spread these mind-boggling interpretations around; or, if they are allowed the slightest glimpse into your family or be in your home, completely misrepresent you, your family, etc to others; because that's just who they ARE.) Some people are so full of personal insecurities and complexes and are carrying so much baggage that the filters through which they see, hear, perceive, receive are so polluted and warped all out of shape that it doesn't matter what you say or do, how you 'reconcile', it's just going to be a matter of time before there's a whole new issue to deal with and work through and reconcile over all over again. This becomes very DRAINING and keeping such persons in close relationship becomes extremely stressful and injurious to one's health, even physical health, as emotional and mental health distress can manifest in physical health. Some others are just mean and nasty. Just mean. Others don't find it easy to forgive offences or slights, imagined, accidental or deliberate and will hold grudges till death no matter how deeply and sincerely apologies had been given and nor how generously efforts at restitution and reconciliation made. Thus resulting in uncomfortable awkwardness, strain, constraint, silences/gaps in conversation whenever encountered due to obvious coldness, restraint, lack of warmth on their end. There are people whom because of their CHARACTER which produces undesirable actions and behaviour on a continuous basis, self-preservation, common sense, and wisdom COMMAND we keep a healthy distance from us and from our loved ones. You exercised your freedom to choose your own path. You exercised your freedom to choose your associations. What some (and you) call a denial or limiting of your freedom actually resulted in the discovery of a new freedom for you. I'm reading this in 2020: a leap year. I hope it will, also, be a loop year for you. Keep doing more loops, Kristi. Let others tread pedantically only the beaten track, keep making your loops. Take the road less traveled. Create and leave new, beautiful and unique designs in the sands of time as you go. Live free.

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