Le Ravin: Jean-Marc's car accident in the French Alps


Today's Word: le ravin

    : ravine, a deep or seemingly bottomless chasm...

Audio File: Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the last sentence in his story, below.

A BILINGUAL STORY  by Jean-Marc Espinasse

(English version follows, below)

Puisque que la météo avait prévu de la neige dans les Alpes, je me suis décidé à partir tout seul ce weekend pour faire de la randonnée en profitant de cette première neige fraîche de l'année. J'avais déjà utilisé notre petit Jimny 4X4 pour venir dans les Alpes alors qu'il neigeait et j'avais pu vérifier que cette voiture avait une bonne tenue de route dans ces conditions là.

Mais ce soir, la neige était très glissante et vers minuit à presque 1 km de mon arrivée finale un petit animal a traversé la route. À vrai dire je ne sais pas si j'ai mis un coup de frein ou si j'ai mis un coup de volant pour l'éviter, ce qui est sûr c'est que la voiture est partie en travers et qu'elle est entrée dans le ravin. Vous pouvez imaginer l'effroi et l'horreur que j'ai vécu, ne sachant pas, pendant cette chute, si ce ravin était pentu, s'il était long, s'il y avait des arbres , une rivière... bref je me suis véritablement vu mourir. Cette descente infernale dans ce ravin n'a duré peut-être que deux ou trois secondes mais pour moi elle a duré une éternité.

La voiture est miraculeusement restée sur ses quatre pneus puis elle a stoppé net. Heureusement j'avais ma ceinture de sécurité et j'ai été franchement étonné de savoir que j'étais en vie, sans aucune blessures. J'ai réussi à ouvrir la portière malgré la neige je me suis rendue compte de la chance que j'ai eue puisque la voiture n'as pas fait de tonneaux dans ce ravin très pentu. Il m'a fallu 30 minutes pour grimper, à l'aide des branches de buissons, les 15 m de dénivelé enneigés et rejoindre la route où un ami était venu à mon secours.

Après une très mauvaise nuit de sommeil je me suis réveillé sans courbatures et j'ai trouve les personnes qui m'ont aidé à remonter la voiture sur la route. Il a fallu un tracteur agricole avec un treuil, un porte-char pour amener le tracteur sur le lieu le travail et enfin un camion avec plateau pour pouvoir mettre la voiture accidentée dessus et l'amener chez le garagiste. Trois officiers de police sont également venus pour couper la route pendant cette opération délicate. Après avoir attaché la voiture aux câbles, le très puissant treuil du tracteur a réussi à la remonter au bord de la route sans aucun souci. Quel a alors été mon étonnement de voir que la voiture n'était pratiquement pas accidentée et que le moteur a démarré au quart de tour.

Le soir de cet accident, il y avait un tirage du loto historiquement élevé. Je n'ai pas joué à ce jeu mais j'ai quand même eu l'impression d'avoir gagné le gros lot. Je n'ai eu aucune blessures, la voiture n'a pas eu besoin d'être réparée et j'ai finalement pu profiter de cette neige fraîche, à l'origine de mon accident mais qui a également amorti et évité le pire dans ma course folle au sein de ce ravin.

ENGLISH VERSION

Since the weather forecast had called for snow in the Alps, I decided to go alone this weekend to hike, taking advantage of this first fresh snow of the year. I had already used our little Jimny 4X4 to come to the Alps while it was snowing and I had been able to verify that this car had good handling in these conditions.

But tonight the snow was very slippery and around midnight, almost 1 km from my final arrival, a small animal crossed the road. To tell the truth, I don't know if I put on the brakes or if I used the steering wheel to avoid it, what is certain is that the car took off sideways and so entered into the abyss. You can imagine the dread and horror I experienced, not knowing, during the fall, if this ravine was steep, if it was long, if there were trees, a river ... in short I truly saw myself dying. This hellish descent into the abyss only lasted maybe two or three seconds, but for me it lasted forever.

The car miraculously stayed (upright) on its four tires and then came to a stop. Luckily I had my seat belt on and I was frankly amazed to know that I was alive with no injuries. I managed to open the door despite the snow and realized how lucky I was since the car did not roll over in this very steep ravine. It took me 30 minutes to climb out, using the branches of the bushes, the 15 m of snow-covered vertical drop, and reach the road where a friend had come to my aid.

After a very bad night's sleep, I woke up with no body aches and found some people who helped me get the car back on the road. It took an agricultural tractor with a winch (a hoist), and a tank loader, to bring the tractor to the area and finally a truck with a platform to be able to put the damaged car on it and take it to the garage. Three police officers also came to cordon off the road during this delicate operation. After having attached the car to the cables, the very powerful winch of the tractor managed to raise it to the side of the road without any problem. I was astonished to see that the car was hardly damaged and that the engine started at a quarter-turn (of the key).

On the night of this accident, there was a historically high lottery drawing. I didn't play this game but still felt like I had won the jackpot. I had no injuries, the car did not need to be repaired and I was finally able to take advantage of this fresh snow, which was the cause of my accident but which also cushioned and prevented the worst in this mad race into the abyss.

 Jean-Marc cross-country
Jean-Marc enjoying the snow.

MVIMG_20190208_073838

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Rien qu'aujourd'hui (Only for Today): A "How To" for difficult times

Poppies and our wild gardenDuring 10 challenging years at two vineyards (before moving to this peaceful, postage-stamp garden where our wine memoir is underway), I kept a copy of today's mind-centering thoughts in my purse. In uncertain times, such words may be helpful to you, family, or friends.

ONLY FOR TODAY...
RIEN QU'AUJOURD'HUI

Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, j’essaierai de vivre ma journée sans chercher à résoudre le problème de toute ma vie.

Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behaviour; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, je prendrai le plus grand soin de me comporter et d’agir de manière courtoise ; je ne critiquerai personne et je ne prétendrai corriger ou régenter qui que ce soit, excepté moi-même.

Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one. Aujourd’hui je serai heureux, rien qu’aujourd’hui, sur la certitude d’avoir été créé pour le bonheur, non seulement dans l’autre monde, mais également dans celui-ci.

Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, je me plierai aux circonstances, sans prétendre que celles-ci cèdent à tous mes désirs.

Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul. Rien qu’aujourd’hui je consacrerai dix minutes à une bonne lecture en me rappelant que, comme la nourriture est nécessaire à la vie du corps , de même la bonne lecture est nécessaire à la vie de l’âme.

Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, je ferai une bonne action et je n’en parlerai à personne.

Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, j’accomplirai au moins une chose que je n’ai pas du tout envie de faire, et si on m’offense, je ne le manifesterai pas.

Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, j’établirai un programme détaillé de ma journée. Je ne m’en acquitterai peut-être pas entièrement, mais je le rédigerai. Et je me garderai de deux calamités: la hâte et l’indécision.

Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, je croirai fermement – même si les circonstances attestent le contraire – que la Providence de Dieu s’occupe de moi comme si rien d’autre n’existait au monde.

Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for 12 hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life. Rien qu’aujourd’hui, je n’aurai aucune crainte. Et tout particulièrement, je n’aurai pas peur d’apprécier ce qui est beau et de croire à la bonté. Je suis en mesure de faire le bien pendant douze heures, ce qui ne saurait me décourager, comme si je me croyais obligé de le faire toute ma vie durant.

Note: My copy (the one in my purse) of "Just For Today" was a gift from A.A. The original text is from Le décalogue de la sérénité de saint Jean XXIII 

Jean-marc heidi doug kristi
New York, 2008. Jean-Marc, my sister Heidi, Doug, Kristi. Thank you very much for your words of sympathy following my brother-in-law, Doug's, passing.

Doves by the sea in la ciotat
This image (taken here in La Ciotat) always brings a peaceful feeling. Enjoy, take good care, and à bientôt.

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Rondelle + Recipe everyone's asking for! My Mother-in-Law's Summer Pizza!

Eggplant-tart
Michèle-France's Pizza d'Ete. Summer Pizza.

TODAY'S WORD: une rondelle

    : slice

Note: rondelle, in this sense, is used for slices of tomato, zucchini, lemon, sausage etc. Careful not to ask for a rondelle de pizza! Instead, ask for une part de pizza.

ECOUTEZ - hear Jean-Marc pronounce today's word and read his mother's recipe.
First, listen to the soundfile, then check the text (in the story below) to test your comprehension.
Download MP3 or Download Rondelle

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE


    by Kristi Espinasse

A favorite comfort food of mine is toast--and toast, in French, is pain grillé (think of it, "grilled pain"! No wonder it is so effective!).

My second favorite comfort food (nourriture de soulagement?) is anything my mother-in-law makes.  Lately, I am loving Michèle-France's summertime tart (really a pizza), and she recently posted the recipe on Facebook! For those who missed it, here's the recipe in French and English. Enjoy it and share it!:

LA RECETTE
Pour vous je donne la recette que j'ai improvisée...
Au lieu de coulis, j'ai mis une sauce avec tomates, ail, oignon, thym sur fond de tarte.
Ensuite, rondelles de courgettes, aubergines, rondelles de tomates, et au dessus quelques olives
Arroser d'un peu d'huile d'olive, du thym parsemé, sel, poivre.
Préchauffer le four. 180C degrés .
Laisser cuire en surveillant la cuisson. Bon appétit. !!!

RECIPE
For you I am offering the recipe I have improvised...
Instead of coulis, I put tomato sauce with garlic, onion, and thyme at the bottom of the tart (pizza dough)
Next, slices of zucchini, eggplant, slices of tomatoes, and a few olives on top.
Drizzle a little olive oil, and sprinkle thyme, salt, pepper on top.
Preheat the oven at 350F.
Keep an eye on it while it cooks. Enjoy!


COMMENTS
To leave a comment click here.

Smokey-reads
Smokey's reading recommendation (ebook, Kindle version here) and a few selected products for summertime. He is also dreaming of baking and his own French baguette pan, to help mold the ideal gallic loaf. A selection of French loaf pans here.

Jackie-fair

Congratulations to our 18-year-old daughter, Jackie, who received her Baccalauréat yesterday! She will go on to university in Aix-en-Provence, continuing her studies in Fashion Design.

Did you know...
International schools following the French Curriculum of education may offer the Baccalauréat (Le Bac) in lieu of or alongside a traditional high school diploma. The Baccalauréat is the traditional school-leaving qualification of French schools. The Baccalauréat is offered in several streams; subjects chosen for the Baccalauréat depend on the stream chosen by the student. (Wikipedia, "High School Diploma")

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Bilingual Post: se sublimer (and more about the creative process)

  stone house yellow hose painted sign dog picket fence wooden lintel italy aosta valley dog Love Well (c) Kristin Espinasse

The painted sign reads: "To live well, love well, and let the others say what they will!" Pour bien vivre, bien aimer, et laisser dire. (Picture taken during our family vacation in Aosta, Italy. I repost this photo often because the message is so good and a needed reminder!)

 se sublimer (seuh-soo-blee-may)

    : to transcend oneself, to go beyond one's limits

Example sentence
Dans ce délicat exercice, elle a le don de se sublimer pour produire une histoire qui va elle, engendrer un moment de bonheur à ses lecteurs. (see translation in the story below)

Audio File: listen to today's word in the following story, written and read aloud by Jean-Marc! Download MP3 or Wav file

***

Un jour dans la vie d’écrivain de Kristi... by Jean-Marc
A Day in Kristi's Writing Life... by Jean-Marc
. 
Aujourd’hui, je voudrai vous parler de ce qu’est le quotidien de notre chère écrivain.
Today, I want to talk to you about what is a typical day in the life of our dear writer.

Kristi se lève vers 6H le matin, ouvre la porte pour que Smokey (qui alors aboie et réveille toute la maison), puis Braise sortent quelques minutes) puis, elle va gentillement nous préparer le thé.
Kristi wakes up around six in the morning, opens the door so that Smokey (who then barks and wakes up the whole house), and then Braise, can go out a few minutes) then she kindly prepares us tea.

Ensuite, elle revient dans notre chambre pour boire le thé, consulter ses emails sans malheureusement pouvoir y répondre car c'est bientôt l'heure d'écrire son édition.
Next, she returns to our room to drink the tea, to consult her emails, without, unfortunately being able to respond to them for it is soon time to begin her edition.

C’est au tour de Jackie et Max de se lever et alors que je vais accompagner Maxime au bus, c’est Kristi qui le plus souvent s’occupe d’amener Jackie à l’école. 
Now it's time for Jackie and Max to get up and while it is I who takes Max to the bus, it's most often Kristi who takes care of getting Jackie to school.

Il est 8 H 30 et Kristi, le plus souvent, n’a toujours pas idée de ce qu’elle va écrire. Pour elle, l’inspiration est souvent synonyme d’improvisation.
It is 8:30 and Kristi, most often, still has no idea what she's going to write. For her, inspiration is often synonymous with improvisation.

Ce léger stress et la pression de devoir écrire une édition la plus parfaite en moins de quatre heures, tout en ayant à inclure sponsors, photos, messages vocaux, est une réelle prouesse d’artiste, surtout lorsque cela se produit en moyenne trois fois par semaine. 
This slight stress and the pressure to have to write the most perfect edition in less than four hours, all the while including sponsors, photos, vocal messages, is a true prowesse of the artist, especially when this is reproduced, in general, around three times a week.

Dans ce délicat exercice, elle a le don de se sublimer pour produire une histoire qui va elle, engendrer un moment de bonheur à ses lecteurs.
In this delicate exercise, she has the gift of transcending herself in order to produce a story that will itself engender a moment of happiness for her readers.

Pendant ce temps là, Kristi a un grand besoin de calme et ne se donne que quelques courtes pauses pour aller grignoter un fruit.
During this time, Kristi has a real need for calm, and she only gives herself a few short breaks to go and snack on a piece of fruit.

Une fois l’édition terminée, elle prépare notre déjeuner, va faire balader les chiens et puis, après avoir mangé son repas, elle va décompresser par une petite "sacro-sainte" sieste.
Once her edition is finished, she fixes our lunch, goes to walk the dogs and then, after eating her lunch, she goes to decompress by a little sacred nap.
 
Vient ensuite l’heure de lire les commentaires qui sont pour elle la récompense des efforts fournis dans la matinée. Elle va ensuite avoir un tout petit peu de temps pour répondre aux très nombreux emails et de s'occuper de nos enfants, de rencontrer quelques amis, de tenir la maison propre...
Next up, it is time to read the story comments which are for her the reward for her morning efforts. She'll then have a little time left to respond to numerous emails and to take care of our kids, meet with friends, and keep the house clean.

Voilà, je pensais vous pourriez savoir à quoi ressemble une journée type dans la vie de votre écrivain. Comme vous le voyez, cela ne lui laisse pas beaucoup de temps de loisirs.
So there you have it, I thought you might like to know just what a typical day looks like, in the life of your writer. As you can see, it doesn't leave a lot of time for leisure.
Aussi, j’espère que vous serez indulgents si elle ne répond pas toujours aux très nombreux emails qu’elle reçoit. Sachez néanmoins qu’ils sont tous lus et appréciés.
Also, I hope you'll be indulgent if she doesn't always respond to the numerous emails that she receives. Know, however, that they are all read and appreciated.
Même si Kristi travaille énormément, elle se considère privilégiée de pouvoir être en contact avec de si nombreux lecteurs qui ont tous également du talent, de la sagesse et un grande âme.
Even if Kristi works alot, she considers herself priviledged to be able to be in contact with so many readers who all have, equally, talent, wisdom and great souls. 

 

 => Listen to today's story, read aloud by Jean-Marc! Download MP3 or Wav file

 

You've Got Mail! (c) Kristin Espinasse
Jean-Marc, standing next to a mailbox at our cousin's house near Aix. When André and Annie (aunt- and uncle-in-law) hung their boîte à lettres one this magical plane tree... the tree responded by reaching out... for the longest hug in history (it took a decade or two to complete the hug!) Maybe someone should contact the Guiness Book of Records?

Thank you! I enjoyed your translations to yesterday's example sentence. Search the comments box to see them here. Here, again, is the sentence:

Le bonheur des yeux lui ferait-il raccrocher son cœur comme le chapeau du porte-manteau ? (Philippe Rousseau, L'Or des ecrins)

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens


Le cerveau: the word for brain in French

Max in St. Tropez France
Max, back when he was nine, at a friend's house in St. Tropez.

Note: the following post was written in 2005.
My son Max seems to be over "le syndrome de la page blanche" or "writer's block." Today he muses about the brain. Find his column below, in French and English.


le cerveau
(sair-voh) noun, masculine

    1. brain; mind; mastermind
.

Letter From a Young Frenchman
9-year-old Max reports...

Est-ce que vous savez pourquoi Dieu à inventé la peau, les os etc? C'est parce qu'un cerveau, ça ne se balade pas tout seul dans la rue! Alors Dieu a crée les veines pour faire circuler le sang, les os pour qu'on tienne debout, les pieds pour marcher, les yeux pour qu'on puisse voir, le nez pour sentir, la bouche pour parler, les oreilles pour entendre, la force pour prendre quelque chose, les mains pour qu'on puisse attraper ces choses... et la peau pour couvrir tout ça!

*   *   *
In English: Do you know why God invented the skin, the bones and the rest? Because a brain doesn't just go walking down the street like that! And so God created veins to circulate the blood, bones, so that we can stand up straight, feet for walking, eyes, so that we can see, the nose, so that we can breathe, the mouth, so that we can talk, the ears, so that we can hear, strength, so that we can take something, hands, so that we can pick something up, and skin, to cover all that!

 

Expressions:
un rhume de cerveau = a head cold
un homme à cerveau étroit = a shallow-brained, empty-headed man
avoir le cerveau dérangé / fêlé
= to be deranged, mad, cracked, nuts
un cerveau brûlé = a hothead
le cerveau d'une entreprise
= the head of a company
c'est un cerveau = he or she is a real brain
la fuite de cerveaux = brain drain
un cerveau de mouche = fly-brained (absent-minded)
un demi-cerveau
= a half brain (a dumb blond, an airhead)


French Proverb:
Est bien fou du cerveau, Qui veut contenter tout le monde et son père.
He who tries to please the world and his father is a little crazy in the head.

French town of Buisson France platain plane trees
The French town of Buisson beneath winter's claws.

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens