A Strange Coincidence, “soul-daughter”, and wonderment in French
Burlesque in Burgundy... (A Cheeky Cabaret to Celebrate a friend's 50th birthday)

"Eclosion": Old love letters, a lifetime commitment, and "rien n'est acquis"...

postcards from Marseilles Provence France

Today's Word: une éclosion

    : blossoming, burgeoning

Audio/Listening: Click the link below to hear the French words in the following story. Then scroll down to the vocabulary list to check your French comprehension.

Sound File here

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

There were a handful of letters I meant to include in our vineyard memoir, colorful cartes postales from Provence saved from when Jean-Marc and I fell in love. I never did find the right chapter in which to insert ces déclarations d'amour and, finally, the cards were set in a box of "things to find a place for" beneath our bed. 

Last summer I took several months off from this blog to organize my thoughts and my life. Jean-Marc spent August at his man cave in the Alps... During la pétite separation I continued getting rid of the surplus in our home, trying to decide what to keep...while mindful not to toss the baby out with the bathwater. (Perhaps my husband of 27 years was safer in the mountains while I navigated "le retour d'âge"*?)

While tossing or donating "7 things a day" I uncovered more letters from Jean-Marc, dated 1990, '91, '92, '93, '94.... Turns out that handful of correspondence under our bed was but the tip of the iceberg!

Speaking of ice...

My husband returned from the mountains. Damn, he looked good! All tan and a dashing grin on his face. I began to melt all over again. He even had a gift in hand (an antique moulin à café to perk me up). Any complacency flew out the window and we quickly began revamping our efforts "not to take things for granted." But we would need more than appreciation to jumpstart a new season in our lifetime commitment. Sometime midsummer I began watching YouTube videos by a couples therapist. His tip? "95/5": you assume responsibility for 95 percent of the relationship (your spouse is responsible for 5 percent). To add to this injustice, cette iniquité, the therapist dared suggest I write down each day 25 things I like about my husband or our marriage. I did this for one day...when I had a sneaky idea: why not incorporate the "gratitude" practice into our morning ritual?

Je t’aime parce que...
There began a morning ritual of noting down one thing we like about the other. The gratitude pages grew and another chose was added to our early morning routine: “read one of Jean-Marc's mots doux from the past.” I dug out his cards and read them aloud. Lingering in bed, coffee on our respective nightstands, the sun rising beyond the window shutters, we relived our courtship days, as chronicled in the letters. So many details had been forgotten, like the “Morse” code we used for our international telephone calls (to avoid an onéreux phone bill).  And other particulars regarding our jobs, our wish to fonder une famille and notes on how to care for a lifelong commitment as explained in the following excerpt:

Amour, One thing I consider important is to talk, every day, even if we are tired, even if you don't want to for any reason. Talking sincerely is the best way to reinforce links and to prevent. Moreover, we will have this language problem and talking will help us to perform communication. Don't you think so?

Perform communication...That was Jean-Marc writing in English, 30 years ago...but it might have been me talking today: We need to communicate! We need to communicate!

Speaking of me talking, where were all my letters to JM? Qui sait? We didn't have to wait long to find out. One morning my husband appeared at the door of our bedroom, un sourire enjôleur on his face and a thick manila envelope. "Tu veux lire tes lettres aujourd’hui?"

He found them!

Postcards from Arizona to France

We now poured over postcards from the Arizona Dessert (Saguaro cacti and yellow poppies contrasted with his postcards of lavender fields and old stone farmhouses...), and letters long and short written on company letterhead (mine from the French travel company I worked for, his from the accounting firm qui venait de l'embaucher) taking turns to read or to carefully file the correspondence in a "his" or "her" pile, by date. On hearing JM read the date, I always pause to tease him, “So this was before (or after..) you bought me my one-way ticket home...” It always brings a chuckle...before we are gently quieted by the reminder that rien n’est acquis! 

In addition to the thoughtful cards, Jean-Marc sent me tape cassettes of French news "to help you keep up your French...." I sent most letters from the office, where I worked as a bilingual receptionist. One day, so deliriously in love, I stuck my head in the office photocopier just to have something interesting and passionate to send him.


In big loopy writing or small hard-to-read cursive, our billets doux progressed and so did our plans. In a postcard of an old French mas from the winter of winter '92, Jean-Marc wrote poetically: 

It is in a house like this that I would like to live, when the passion of work and when age will have reminded me that nature is truly beautiful. And if in 30 years you will share my life, I hope you will be happy in this kind of landscape. (See postcard below...)

And here we are, 30 years later dusting off our histoire d'amour. There are dozens more letters to read and enjoy. We’ll be careful to keep them, and us, together this time.


une éclosion = blossoming
la carte postale = postcard
déclaration d’amour =declaration of love
la petite séparation = little separation
le moulin à café = coffee mill
je t’aime parce que...= I love you because...
une iniquité = injustice, unfairness
une chose
= thing
le mot doux = love letter
= pricey
fonder une famille = start a family
Amour = Love
qui sait? = who knows
tu veux lire tes lettres aujourd’hui? = want to read your letters today?
qui venait de l'embaucher = that had just hired him
rien n’est acquis
= nothing can be taken for granted
le sourire enjôleur = charming, beguiling smile
le billet doux = love letter
le mas = Provencal farmhouse
l’histoire d’amour = love story

*"Le retour d'âge": I slipped this term in later, in place of  "menopause". The term is slightly dated, but the literal translation is interesting: "the return of age"; poetically means: "the change", the change of life



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


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Julie Farrar

Such a lovely practice you described. I have in a small way during covid tried to write some real letters to friends and family. And while in France this past month I sent home more postcards than usual. You make me want to write more letters.

Catherine Stock

I still want to find out how he got you back after putting you on a flight back back to the US with a one way ticket!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Catherine. I’ll work on that story! 

Catherine Berry

The passion of young love. Worth remembering and savouring.


Oh this is sooo sweet and lovely!! Your head in the photocopier!!! Brilliant. That Sounds like something of your mother's gene from how you have described her wacky ways.

Delightful. Enchanting. Charming. And very romantic.

Thank you for sharing this beautiful insight into your world!


When asked the secret of her long and happy marriage, Ina Garten replied, “Jeffrey wants me to be happy, and I want him to be happy.” That sums it up.

K. J. Laramie

Constant care! 💕 It’s like polishing a copper pot. Keep shining!


Very touching, so glad you have all those missives!
We - in our seventies - needed a bit of marital counselling and we go to a couple, man and woman.... they gave us un devoir quite at the beginning to write a wee note every day to the other, detailing something from the day before that we appreciated the other doing. Good exercise!!

Suzanne Dunaway

Lovely. Wish we had more of our clandestine courtship notes, left by a deserted tree in our neighborhood where they wound never be found except by us! So baaaaad were we.

Nyla Witmore

Your post today was THE most touching, deeply poignant, episode I have read in the many years I have been following your writing and life. (One day, it could be made into a movie based on a true story.) And oh how you two have grown. I say a prayer today that your life lessons shared will bless others a hundred-fold.

Sue J.

This is so lovely, Kristi. Thank you for sharing. (Love the xerox of your profile!)


It’s great to be back to your posts. I wish both of you all the best. You are so right about communication. I think it is key in most aspects of life. Thanks for the menopause phrase. Oh what is is to be in that time of life; a crossroads in a way. Here is to your crossroads leading you to the path of happiness and contentment.


A lovely story. Revisiting the past is a wonderful to recommit yourselves. And you tell it charmingly.

Jeanine Woods

Merci encore Kristi pour ce post et les leçons de la vie et de votre mariage. On peut apprendre beacuoup et surtout que rien n'est acquis. C'est travail et joi, le mariage.

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,

This is lovely, heart-warming and uplifting. The memories of the origin of an enduring relationship bring back the feelings of euphoria one experiences at such a time. And remembering it in French just makes it that much more romantic!

This story actually seems to be the perfect ending to The Lost Gardens. It shows the joy in coming together and the commitment that helped you through your journey. And best of all, it shows where you are today, which is so reassuring.

Could you not attach it as a Post Script?

Susan Boehnstedt

RB...I remember many of those letters/stories and where you were in 90's...as we spent much more time together than. It's been a joy to ride along side you and JM and watch the two of your grow together. It's inspiring, heartwarming and I am cheering for another 27 years!!! On your side always, XOXOX RB

An Scott

How romantic!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you very much, Chris, for your helpful thoughts. I will add the story in a post script as you suggested. 💕

Julie Braun

Thank you for sharing your life stories, including this one. Your newsletters satisfies my yearning to learn French language and culture, yet are much more interesting than memorizing my verb conjugations. I also love your books!

Roseann Milano

Such a lovely post. Thank you so much for sharing.

Jerry Wood

Yes absents makes the heart grow fonder, however so dose serious illness. When my loving wife of 58 years was diagnosed with a terminal illness. I knew that my love of her was so strong that I wanted to be the care giver and do everything in my power for her. She was my lover, best friend and mother of our wonderful children. It was unthinkable for me not to be there for her for every minute she had left. First thing every morning and last thing every night we told each other , I love you.


Beautiful love story - and it is real!!! Congratulations on your many years together and many more.


Lovely story ~ love your honesty! Yes we too just hit 30 years and we know what you mean in keeping that “spark” going. You have had lots on your plate but I so enjoy hearing about it knowing we are all not alone in our chapters we go through. Keep reading those love letters, its your history and love story. Loved the photo copier pic. Fun things we do when we fall in love. Keep writing, good to have you back.
Your Okoboji friend ~


Our dear Kristi,
All of your posts are inspiring and beautifully written,but today's is truly exceptional(!!) and just wraps itself around our hearts.
You and Jean Marc are a wonderful couple, and your marriage an example of love and enduring dedication.That you still work towards improvement is a perfect example for all those,both young and old,who wish to do the same.
Thank you for sharing this with us.
Blessings always to you both and your family.
Arms around you all.
Natalia XO

Diana H Butler

I've been reading your posts for years and find them so enjoyable. Thanks for sharing your life story. I'm very impressed with your persistence, optimism, and self discipline. Hope you and JM will continue to enjoy many more years together.

Karen in NY

I have to say - after slogging out the single life for decades - I so admire couples that can make it work. It's a beautiful thing! Maybe in my next life... In the meantime I will belt out another chorus of La Vie en Rose, off key, goofy phrasing, and, oh, those Rs.


L'amour fait tourner le monde.


Hi Kristi,
Thanks for the post today! I have some of our love letters but they are a bit racy! LOL....I would not want my kids to find them.

Janine Cortell

Dear Kristi:
Of all your wonderful posts I have followed over the years, this was my very favorite of all times. I lost my wonderful husband two years ago. We told each over every day how much we loved each other. We never went to bed angry. When he bugged me I would say: "I love you anyhow".
You and Jean-Marc have made it through the years with the fierce love you have for one another. Keep it going. Many hugs to you both, Janine

Beth Fiacco

Love your love story ♥♥
What a beautiful thing to remember falling in love. I wish my husband and I had written more down - after 30 years this year - memory is all we have of those early days in love. Marriage is a beautiful journey after all, n'est-ce pas?


Learn to trust Love!! God bless, C-Marie

Suzanne Codi

Made me cry

Diane Covington-Carter

So beautiful. My husband and I end each day for a few moments, cuddling together and we each say what we are grateful for from the day and something that we appreciate about each other. Then, the last words, "I love you" before we drift off to sleep.
So glad you found those treasures of letters.

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