Books make perfect gifts. Finding Gilbert won a Gold Award from the Society of American Travel Writers Western Chapter. Faculty at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, who judged the competition, wrote: “This is a gripping travel memoir of how childhood stories of World War II turn into a quest. A lot of travel is driven by the quest for answers–and this book fulfills that desire to find the truth in faraway places. This piece about a father’s love and fulfilling a promise to a French war orphan is well done, and a recommended read.” Order the book here.
TODAY'S WORD: LIRE
: to read
Click here to listen to the following sentence in French
Apprendre à lire, c'est allumer un feu, chaque syllabe qui est énoncé est une étincelle. To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.--Victor Hugo
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A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
Not far from home, there is an old railroad track, un chemin de fer that has been converted into a beautiful botanical pathway with a variety of fruit trees waiting to be discovered: strawberry, fig, apple, almond, and pomegranate, among others still hidden....
The more I walk the path (these days with Mom, which is an added pleasure), the more we discover. Just last week all of the tree strawberries from the arbusier came out of hiding, revealing themselves via their deep red coats and the splashes of crimson they created on the ground where they fell, ripe for the taking.
Hidden in plain sight in the center of our city, if this edible path were a book it might be called Le Jardin Secret. Speaking of books....
I was out walking along this peaceful voie, when the sound of protest became louder and louder. Plus loin, I saw a young couple strolling with their toddler, who was having a colossal meltdown.
Je veux lire! Je veux lire! JE VEUX LIRRREEE! cried le bambin, as he pounded his feet against the concrete.
Have you ever witnessed such passion over the written word? One could only imagine which page-turning tome awaited him at home: Les Misérables?
Speaking of Victor Hugo, here is a bookish quote before we continue our shoe-stomping soliloquy:
To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.
Clearly that child's literary fire was lit, his face was red as the embers of... Dantés Inferno? We will never know which tale was calling him home, so I offered a thumbs up to the parents and walked on, wishing I had read more consistently to my children--instilled a story time to light their fire for la lecture. Now adults, they wish they had the reading bug, too. I tell them it's not too late! Ce n'est jamais trop tard! But these days, with smartphones, the internet and its endless feeds, it is harder and harder to settle down and read, to remain quiet and tuned in to a book, as people did in l'ancien temps.
I am reminded of a pleasant scene from childhood, which took place on a winter's day in Arizona. Sitting beside my mom in our tiny kitchen, the oven temperature set low, the door ajar, our feet rested on the warm oven door as Mom read a giant novel. Adding to the cozy atmosphere, was our dog, Benji, a long-haired mutt who dozed on the linoleum floor. I don't remember which book I was reading (if indeed I was reading and not daydreaming), but I like to think it was Jacques et Le Haricot Magique. That a little seed could grow big enough to reach the sky--and provide a leafy bridge from here to the heaven--is a story that fuels more than the imagination.... It lights a fire inside of me!
I am on my way out to the garden, now, to plant some more magical beans.... One can always dream.
Dear reader, what memories does reading evoke for you? And what was the last (or best) book you read? Let us know in the comments, below.
lire = to read
un chemin de fer = railroad, railway
la voie = path, way, lane
arbusier = arbutus unedo, arbutus tree
plus loin = farther ahead
le bambin = toddler
la lecture = reading
l'ancien temps = olden days
Jacques et le haricot magique = Jack and the Beanstalk
Eight Months in Provence. For anyone who has ever dreamed of living in France, here is an inspiring book that shows it is never too late! Order it here.
I leave you with a picture of Smokey, in the wild garden we tended together. This picture is from the archives post Most Difficult French Words to Pronounce.
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