Etonner and a big surprise on Easter morning

Garden april 2020
Our up-n-coming Victory Garden--where I hang out (and try to chill) when I'm not bossing everybody around... Read today's story and please share this French word journal with a friend. That's an order!

TODAY'S WORD: étonner

   : to surprise, amaze, astonish

Audio file: click here to listen to the following sentence
Les bonnes actions sont choses fort naturelles, et pourtant elles étonnent toujours. Good deeds are natural, nevertheless they always amaze us.
Adolphe d'Houdetot ; Dix épines pour une fleur (1853)

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

"The Bearded Easter Bunny"

Early Sunday morning I headed to the poulailler to feed our chickens. Now that we have 5 poules we are collecting around 4 eggs a day. (For weeks, Mama the white hen, has laid que dalle. That's French for zilch! But this doesn't stop her from going into her straw-filled nichoir, pretending to be productive. I know the feeling, Mama--the fear of what would happen if we quit producing, performing, or otherwise making use of ourselves. We fear we might somehow be dismissed, rejected! But we'll get to that later in our story. Or try to....

On my way out of the pen, I automatically lifted the hatch over Mama's nesting box and did a double-take. 

There, atop the fresh straw, were two giant oeufs...chocolate eggs! I stood beside the nesting box, experiencing a wave of emotion. Easter eggs... for me!

Hidden eggs
The chocolate eggs (one is actually a fish...)

This tender gesture was so unexpected, so humbling. A surprise gift...pour moi? After all, most times I am seen as the Sergeant around here. Spending my days, as I do, trying to keep everyone in line. What they don't understand, this family, these bandits young and old, is that all I want is for everyone to have what they need, and for everything to run smoothly....

Wash your hands, Max. Be safe in Miami, Jackie! Don't lick the jam jar, Jean-Marc!! Lock your door, Mom. Don't nap on the lettuce patch, Smokey!

I feel everything will fall apart (or be squished!) if I don't keep "our world" together. Having written that, I am reminded of the thought (put to words by French novelist and dean of the Académie française, Jean d'Ormesson):

Si étrange que ce puisse paraître, le Monde après nous continuera à tourner. Sans vous. Sans moi!

Indeed, strange as it may seem, the World after us will continue to spin. Without you. Without me!

May as well let go...
Looking at those delicate chocolate eggs, I began to relax, in time see and receive a hint of my family's unconditional love. I carefully collected the gift and returned to bed, where my coffee was waiting and the morning devotional* was open, ready for me to read to Jean-Marc.

"Somebody left a big surprise for me," I said.

"C'etait Max..." Jean-Marc replied.

Max? I had been certain it was somebody else, sure it was Mom who hid the eggs! I had not even considered our 24-year-old. And now my mind was filled with the scene of The Bearded Easter Bunny, sneaking out at night to hide the surprise.

What is it about an unexpected gift that so moves us? Could it be we feel unworthy or undeserving? And here we find ourselves beholding a most exquisite, symbolic gift wherein we--we nagging Casse-Bonbons, we Mean-Wells (if not always seen-wells), are reminded we are deeply loved and appreciated, warts and all.

It reminds me of redemption, which so happens to be the theme of the week. Joyeuses Pâques !


Max painting  in garden
The Bearded Easter Bunny enjoyed painting in the garden on Paques :-)

Related Stories:
=> Unfit Mother
=> Control Juice
=> Casse-bonbons
*Morning devotional: La Bonne Semence. The daily message is free and can be listened to via audio, in French, here. Excellent for your French, too!


le poulailler = henhouse, chicken coop
la poule = chicken, hen
que dalle = zilch, nothing, nada
le nichoir = nesting box
les oeufs = plural  of oeuf, egg
Joyeuses Pâques = Happy Easter

Kristi in the pen with chickens and Smokey
With all 5 chickens and Smokey the lettuce crusher.

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