Art and Contretemps, and a walk with writer Catherine Berry
Le Frelon: hornets drove away our bees; Jean-Marc made honey

Orageux: Stormy Night and visit chez le podologue

Chair in field
Chapter 9 of our vineyard memoir is online now. Mike, reading along from South Africa, writes: "For me, quite the most enjoyable chapter so far, because it gives insight into your personal migration over the years."

Merci, Mike! For all of us, the pursuit of a dream, whether life in France or a satisfying relationship, involves an emotional migration of the ego and soul. This message is at the heart of our book, available here.

TODAY'S WORD: ORAGEUX

    : stormy, tempestuous

AUDIO: Listen to Jean-Marc read his sentence in French


L'épisode Méditerranéen en cours dans le sud de la France a provoqué un temps orageux hier soir sur La Ciotat.The Mediterranean episode underway in the south of France caused stormy weather last night on La Ciotat.

Mediterranean episode = a particular meteorological phenomenon around the Mediterranean (Wikipedia)


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

When we heard the storms were coming Mom suggested we cancel her appointment chez le podologue. But because her big toe--her gros orteil--was in pain again (that ingrown toenail!) I didn't want to put off the rendez-vous. It'll be okay, I assured Mom. We don't have too far to drive....

We left our one umbrella behind, in favor of wide-brimmed hats, and we borrowed Max's bagnole, which works pretty well despite le frein à main, which is broken...

Driving along the front de mer, the sky ahead of us darkened. "Oh, Kristi, this is exciting!" Mom said. "We should get out more often!"

Exciting? No, this was nerve-racking! My hands gripped the steering wheel as I navigated the wet roads. "Look at all the people that are out walking along the beachfront," I said to my copilot. Interesting how some people hurried inside before a storm... while others ventured out to watch it. That was the difference between Mom and me! 

A thin white line pierced the horizon and a moment later, a crackle and BOOM! Lightning and thunder. The car windows began to fog over so I turned on my A/C full blast, hoping the cold air would clear the glass. As Mom and I wiped the windows with our hands, the bumper-to-bumper line up came into view with its tunnel of red brake lights. The police were redirecting traffic away from the seafront as giant waves sent sand flying from the beach onto the boardwalk, inches away from the vehicles!

I ditched the plan to leave Mom at the corner closest to the foot doctor's. Deep puddles had formed everywhere and I didn't trust the other drivers, what with the reduced visibility. "Let's stick together!" I said. "We'll park and walk the 3 blocks."

Finally, we descended into the underground parking lot, where Mom got out of the car to help guide me into a narrow parking slot. Next, we headed up the ramp, single file, and right out into the storm.

WHOAH! The rain was pouring down. It felt like buckets of it were hitting us and, within thirty seconds, I was entirely soaked through! My floppy sunhat, I learned, was not waterproof, and my hair (just washed and blown dry back at home) was sticking to my head as a river ran down my back.

Mom's hat was waterproof, and her cool new coat, silver like her gorgeous hair--a 7-dollar brocante find (the coat, not Mom's hair) kept her dry. It was her slippery chaussures that were failing her. Flip flops--the only shoes she could wear with that painful ongle incarné

"Maybe I should take off my shoes?"

And go barefoot in this déluge? No way. I laced my arm through Mom's and pulled her close as we walked on, leaning in to the buildings as the cars whipped by on our other side. Rivulets of rain water took up half of the narrow trottoir.  Every so often, in addition to the torrent of rain hitting us, we had to walk beneath a fountain of water flooding off the rooftops. There was no way around the additional downpour, given the cars were inches away.

What a relief to finally turn off that busy road!  Another block and we hurried into the podiatrist's office, where we peeled off our wet coats and hats. The young foot doctor, Mélinée, was Armenian, and as she cared for Mom's feet, she shared about the cuisine of her ancestors. She asked, Had we ever tried dolmas (rice, pine nuts, and herbs wrapped in grape leaves)? As we chatted, Mom began to relax, and we both were warmed at last, as though seated beside the communal oven. 

I leave you with a picture of my mom, Jules. The snapshot was taken at our former vineyard near Bandol.

FRENCH VOCABULARY
le/la podologue = podiatrist, foot doctor
le gros orteil = big toe
la bagnole = slang for "car"
le frein à main = parking brake
la chaussure = shoe
l'ongle incarné = ingrown toenail
la brocante = second-hand shop
le trottoir = sidewalk

le déluge = flood, downpour

Mom as mas des brun

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