Name your favorite drink + What does the French “bredouille” mean in English? (Hint: it doesn't mean 'tipsy')
A Strange Coincidence, “soul-daughter”, and wonderment in French

"Regretfully" in French + to spin out of control + One of us moves out...

historic building La Bastide Marin La Ciotat France
Which family member moved to the historic grounds of La Bastide Marin? Read on, in today's chronique and learn a dozen more useful French terms.

Today's Word: à contrecoeur (or contre-coeur)

    : regretfully, reluctantly, grudgingly

Audio/Listening: Click the link below to hear today's word + a dozen more vocabulary words. Next, scroll down to the vocabulary list to check your comprehension.

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc pronounce a list of French words

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Ever since our hen, Edie, lost 4 camarades (victims snatched by des oiseaux de proie, two died mysteriously), our poule has struggled with la solitude...which is why we let her out of her empty pen and gave her the run of the garden.

An unbridled hen in un jardin is a catastrophic thing (for starts she ate the artichokes, the favas, and the nasturtiums), but not as catastrophique as a hen in a home...
"I did not encourage her," my Mom swore, the day I found our chicken nesting in a corner of Jules's ADU, or "garage apartment". It was hard to hide the delight on her face (Mom's or Edie's) and equally hard to hide the trail of seeds leading into Mom's studio....

hen chicken in art studio
photo by my belle-soeur Cécile, wine bottles painting by Jules

For weeks we hid the whole pagaille from Jean-Marc (did my husband know but looked the other way?). But when Mom became ill 6 weeks, coughing night and day (a cold? bronchitis? Covid??), I wondered, could she be allergic to our big bird?

An online search for "bird flu" brought back chilling results: Avian influenza in humans can cause a range of serious and potentially fatal complications, including eye infections, pneumonia, viral and acute respiratory distress....

Enough was enough! Edie expulsé, I spent all day Saturday getting any bird traces out of Mom's place, vacuuming under the bed, wiping down the walls, tossing damaged things--rearranging everything.

Mom didn't speak to me for weeks. The invasion of her privacy! The violation! The eviction of Edie!

Had I crossed the line of dignity? 

Mom got better (though she still held a grudge at "Sergeant Kristi") but now there was Edie to worry about. No longer queen of the garden (what was left of it...) she was back in her empty pen--a dustbowl compared to the Garden of Eden she ate before moving into Grandma's. Alone she lamented from morning to evening. Have you ever heard a chicken lament? Our entire neighborhood has! I spent my days hurrying back and forth from house to hen, trying to appease our lonely chick with snacks and water...which only exacerbated another problem: all the neighborhood doves and pigeons had moved in to feast on the food and water (they were drinking from Smokey's bowl, too. Was this healthy for our dog?).

A Jumpity Sergeant
Slapping at my arms and legs (mosquitos!), I stood guard while Edie ate or drank, but the pigeons were determined. The food and water supplies dwindled along with my nerves. The situation became unmanageable... là, tout est parti en cacahuète! Everything spun out of control.

I knew I needed to find a home for Edie, but what if our free-spirited hen ended up in a cramped poulailler? In full sun? Who would take good care of Edie, if I couldn't?

I remembered reading about a friendly farm, La Ferme d'Autrefois, here in La Ciotat...
"Located in the park of the classified domain of La Bastide Marin, the farm proposes ludique and educational animations in order to sensitize young and old to the protection of the environment in contact with the animals, to support the discovery and the learning of the activities of the agricultural world."

I knew this would be the only place for our cocotte, a pleasant environment to thrive in. Contacting the person in charge of the ménagerie, I was so relieved by Marion’s willingness to adopt Edie. And so it was, last Saturday, our hen nestled comfortably in a straw cabas, Jean-Marc drove us the 5 minutes to the historic and lively domaine. For Edie, it will surely be a change from Jules’s cozy studio (or from my tasty garden) but it beats an empty pen and a jumpity sergeant. 

Post-Note: since relocating Edie to the friendly farm, we've returned weekly to visit her and bring her treats (she loves tomatoes, and so do the roosters that follow her around. After living in a hens-only home, I hope all these new suitors are suitable for her! 


la chronique = column
la (le) camarade = friend
la solitude = loneliness
un oiseau de proie
= bird of prey
le jardin = garden
catastrophique = disastrous
ADU = Accessory Dwelling Unit, in-law suite, garage apartment
la belle-soeur = sister-in-law
la pagaille = mess, mayhem, chaos
expulsé = evicted
partir en cacahuète = to spin out of control
le poulailler = henhouse, chicken coop
la ferme d'autrefois = "The Days-Gone-By Farm" (or The Once-Upon-A-Time Farm)
la cocotte
= hen (in child's language)
la ménagerie = menagerie, small zoo, group of animals
le cabas = straw basket
à contrecoeur (contre-coeur) = reluctantlyIMG_2259

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

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