il parait + video interview on French TV

winemaking Jean-Marc Espinasse (c) Kristin Espinasse
Out of the rubble a wine is born!  Jean-Marc gave more than heart and soul when he made his first wine: he gave his blood, his tears, and an alarming number of kilos. I talk about this, and more, in an interview about the organic winemaker on French TV. 

il paraît (eel-pah-ray)

    : it seems, it appears

synonyms: on dit (they say) or  le bruit court (rumor has it)

Example from today's video:

"Alors, son vin?" So how's the wine?
"Il paraît que c'est bon!" I hear it's good! (or Rumor has it it's pretty good!)

Click on the screen below to enjoy the following 


Portrait de Jean-Marc Espinasse pour l'émission... par BrokenArmsCompany
I am sorry not to have a transcript, in English, of this interview. I hope many of you can understand what is being said. I know I had a hard time... which led the interviewer to rephrase a question or two.

Jean-Marc Espinasse (c) Kristin Espinasse

The man who can passionately follow his vision--yet keep his eyes soft enough to see what lives and loves around him--his family, his friends--that is beauty.

Tango
Jean-Marc taking time out of whirlwind winemaking - to dance the tango with his mother-in-law, Jules.

Tango
Mom was so moved by his gesture that she captured the image forever. "Tango 62" Can you guess what 62 means?

You have captured all our hearts, may yours be bursting today, Jean-Marc, as you celebrate your 46th year. Joyeux Anniversaire!

Jean-Marc with the Arlesiennes (c) Kristin Espinasse
Have fun--but not too much fun!... Untangle yourself from those Arlesiennes and hurry home!

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.

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

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Joyeux Anniversaire, Chief Grape!

Jean-Marc Espinasse
"Vintage 1967"

Joyeux Anniversaire, Chief Grape! To leave a birthday wish for Jean-Marc, click here.



 

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.

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

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


aimer

Picket fence Italy Love Well (c) Kristin Espinasse
A favorite saying... painted on a modest fence; it reads...

"Pour bien vivre, bien aimer et laisser dire."
To live well, love well and let others say what they will.

aimer (ay-may) verb

    : to love

 j'aime, tu aimes, il aime... nous aimons, vous aimez, ils aiment...

 

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Examples of Amour

It began in the black of the night. Lying there in bed, I was not thinking about my birthday and for this I was grateful. Please, God, let me think of other things besides myself and my well-being.

I must have been thinking about China in the late 30's and the heroine of the book that I am reading. Before I fell to sleep last night, she was still stirring... freeing so many tiny feet from foot-binding.

I wriggle my toes beneath the sheets... freedom all around me! What more could I want for my anniversary? And yet...

(The alarm rings...)

"Eh ben," Well, whaddya know! Jean-Marc teases.
"Ce n'est pas possible!" It can't be.
"Qu'est-ce qui n'est pas possible?" What can't be?
"43 ans!" Forty-three years old!
"Et si et c'est bien!" Yes it can and it is good! 

And with that, my husband began to shower me with cadeaux...

There was the cup of coffee he brought me... in a mug featuring a photo of Braise and Smokey....

Cadeau no. 2 was my daughter, whom he awoke... in time for her to offer me une petite boîte of dark chocolates.

Up next... a book... by a rebel nun (I have written about her here).

The gifts continued every quarter of an hour! Cadeau no. 4: a little olive tree: the one I had feared buried beneath so many weeds. How much guilt have I felt, believing I had "choked" it in neglect (leaving it there, alone, in an abandoned garden patch). And now, a second chance! I sat there with little olive tree in my lap. I sipped my coffee, stared at my chocolates, the book, and listened to the water fill my bath.

Reste là! Jean-Marc said, disappearing into the salle de bain. "Ne regarde pas!"

When all was clear and I could come in I could hardly conceal an ear-to-ear grin. On the wall I saw the metal letters that had tumbled off a year or so ago:

"A N G E"

Whereas Jean-Marc had once used duct tape to hang the letters... this time he glued them!

I stared at the French word for "angel". I do hope to act like one this year. (As my mom always says "act as if!" (by the way, she is the one who gave me the metallic "A N G E" letters).

As for the angel in China whom I spoke of earlier (busy unbinding so many tortured feet) -- I'm not sure what she has to do with my story, except to serve as a reminder of how much there is to be grateful for... and that the key to happiness is in the giving of oneself, as Jean-Marc did so beautifully with, among other things, the little olive tree.
. 

French Vocabulary

le cadeau = present

une petite boîte = a box

reste là! = stay there!

la salle de bain = bathroom

ne regarde pas! = don't look

un ange = angel

jackie max kids
A previous birthday party (my 36th) in 2003. Jackie and Max.

Mom_velo

A favorite picture of my mom, Jules (photo taken in 2003). Looking forward to calling her today! 

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.

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

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


creux

DSC_0082
In the lava land of Lanzarote, the Canary Islands, Spain... where we relaxed after the latest grape harvest.. 

creux (creuse) [kreuh, kreuz] adjective

    : hollow, deep, empty

le creux (inv) = a hollow, a dip, a slack period
La Creuse = name of a French river and of a Department in central France 

French Idioms & Expressions

avoir un petit creux = a little hollow in one's stomach (an empty stomach), to feel peckish
les heures creuses = off-peak hours
avoir le nez creux = to be shrewd

There are many more interesting "creux" and "creuse" expressions. Would you like to help out by posting one here, in the comments box?
. 

Sound File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the following words:
note: the sound is problematic... working on this... Download MP3 or Wav

En cas de petit creux, j'ai prévu des petits sandwiches à grignoter....
In the event of a little hunger, I've planned for a few sandwiches to munch on....

 

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

"The Sandwich Maker in Spain"

Every morning we would line up at the resort's breakfast buffet, Jean-Marc, with his shirt à l'envers, Max and Jackie, with sleepy eyes, and I with an eye on the three stomachs ahead of me.

"Jackie, did you notice the green melon?" I'd suggest, when she reached for the milk and the cereal. We could always have cereal back home, but honeydew melon!
"And did you see the bacon?" We never had bacon for breakfast and this was the chance to sample things we wouldn't normally eat this time of day, back home in France.

"Max, did you leave some for the others?" I'd remind our 15-year-old, who piled his plate with sugary viennoiseries

And Jean-Marc... "JEAN-MARC!!!!"  I'd screech. Presently my husband was making sandwiches! And I knew just what sort of trick he had up his sneaky sleeve... only any self-respecting trickster would cache the object of his trickery. Not this one! Jean-Marc was making a picnic lunch via this breakfast buffet -- comme si de rien n'était! As if everything were A-OK!

Oh no you don't! Don't you start that up here! You did that back in Madrid, for the 15 euro buffet, and, OK, it was quite expensive and you did get your money's worth... but you're not going to start pocketing your picnic here! My mind was arguing up a storm. I could just imagine what would happen to our restful vacation if my husband began to take from the daily breakfast buffet.  Peace would go out the door... along with quite a few of those pancakes, to be sure!

Meantime, Jean-Marc, calm as the cucumbers that were not present (after all, this was a breakfast buffet and not a 24-hour diner!) just kept on building his sandwiches: A little bit of sliced bread... and why not a sesame roll? Inside went the scrambled eggs, some breakfast sausages, oh, and did he fancy a tomato? They had those, too! Other sandwiches were more creative: some hash browns, ketchup, and sliced cheese on wheat (hash browns on wheat??? fried potatoes on toast. Well, whoever...!).  

I was horrified when the fellow vacationers strolled by, sure they had one eye on our sandwich-making monopoly and the other on the manageress, who had checked us in earlier, at the front counter. Would she be sending us a check once she caught sight of our "extra bite"?

"Well, what are they going to do?" Jean-Marc questioned, amused. "Throw us in prison?" With that he would look at me with soft eyes:
"Would you like me to make you one, Chérie?"

"No. No! No! No! I do not want one of your sandwiches."

I thought about my strong reaction, wondering whether my good citizenship was only a cover... for questionable qualities of my own. Finally, I decided that it wasn't pride. No! It was principles!

"Well, you'll wish you'd said Yes," was all the sandwich-maker would say. "Tu vas le regretter...."

And of course he was right. Later on at the beach, around 10 a.m., I would look enviously at the sandwich man. There he sat, beneath the "borrowed" shade (can you believe he even swiped the hotel parasol? "but I did it for you, cherie..."), staring out at the Atlantic sea, the crested waves slapping foam against the sandy beach with its black-ashed sable from volcanic eruptions of long ago. He ate with glee and reverie, those sumptuous sandwiches that now had even me dreaming.

"Would you like a bite, Chérie?"

"No, I would not like a bite!"

And with that I would roll over and pout into my book about a French woman, Gervaise, who was going to pot after "sweeting" to the slow, slovenly, saturated life. My stomach would grumble and I'd turn the page... only to read about yet another smorgasbord. 

The next morning at the breakfast table (and the mornings thereafter) it was the same industrious sandwich-making enterprise.
"Jean-Marc!!!" I began, as usual. "Tu exagères!"
"Peut-être je vais les vendre sur la plage! I might sell them on the beach!" he teased. "It might pay for our vacation!" he went on, taunt after taunt. And like that, I'd steam, right there in my seat.

DSC_0031
             The Sandwich-maker in Spain, aka "Chef Grape on Harvest Holiday"

But those sandwiches were looking good. And, true, if you reasoned a certain way, then, really, what was the difference? What with eaters like me -- who took only a piece of toast, an egg, a piece of bacon, and a slice of melon.... one of each, as opposed to the two or three of each as did the man at the next table. Why... one could rationalize! Yes, one could reason, therefore, that a little extra sandwich made from the buffet leftovers (for it helped to call them that) would do no harm....

By day three I began to make suggestions to our sandwich maker.
"I might like some fried egg and some bacon... if that one were mine..." Jean-Marc took the hint and made me up a mid-morning snack. Meantime, Max made himself a mini casse-croute (a modest ham and cheese sandwich on white... and an apple for dessert). Jackie steered clear of this shady sandwichery... preferring to wait for 2 p.m., when respectable Spaniards ate -- and paid -- for their midday meal.

By the end of our vacation my rigid rules were loosening... along with my belt... as I began putting in orders to the sandwich man, instructing Jean-Marc to go light on the sausage... or to avoid the cheese altogether. But I still could not get up the gumption to make my own sandwich. I guess this time you'd have to call it pride.  As for those "principles" I mentioned, I'd lost them somewhere between the clipped ketchup and the heisted hash brown potatoes.

. 

Two Strongly Recommended Books!

While I remained glued to Emile Zola's L'Assommoir, the story about the downward spiral of the working class in 19th Century Paris (owing to alcohol, gluttony, and a fancy for free time...) Jean-Marc was in rapture with the latest book by Robert Camuto, Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey. I thought I might shove two of those sandwiches in my ears if Jean-Marc kept going on and on and on about his love for this book! But then, when my own book ran out of pages, and I'd finished L'Assommoir, I couldn't help but see what all the fuss was about... and steal glances at Jean-Marc's copy of Robert Camuto's latest. Wine and Italy lovers,  don't miss it! 

French Vocabulary

à l'envers = inside out

viennoiseries = pastries

cache (cacher) = to hide

comme si de rien n'était!  = as if nothing were amiss!

Chéri(e) = Darling

Tu vas le regretter! = You'll regret it!

le sable = sand

Tu exagères = you're overdoing it!

le casse-croûte = snack

 

DSC_0011
Family on vacation: Jean-Marc, Jackie, and Kristin

DSC_0013
                                                                                                                    15-year-old Max

When you buy any item at Amazonvia the following links (and at no additional cost to you) your purchase helps support thisFrench word journal. Merci beaucoup!

Fleur de lys umbrella
Fleur de lys umbrella! Order here.

Herbes de Provence in a beautiful crock. Finely ground thyme, rosemary, savory, and marjoram

France Magazine subscription

Easy French Reader
: A fun and easy new way to quickly acquire or enhance basic reading skills

In film:  Paris Je T'aime Paris I love You.

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.

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

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


conjoint

Le Bateau Ivre (c) Kristin Espinasse
A little bar/restaurant in the bay of Locmaria, on the island of Groix.


Conjoint

(kon-zhwan)

noun, masculine

spouse



Just off the coast of Brittany, on a small island habitée by Groisillons and teeming with French tourists on wobbly bicyclettes, there is a quaint port called Locmaria, where The Drunk Boat overlooks the bay at high tide (and low, for that matter, but for the purpose of this conte the marée shall be high, high as the curious individual bathing in its shallow waters)....

"Ah, nature fresh and free. Yes, freeeeeeeeeeeeee!"

I can just hear his French words echoing across the sandy beach, translating themselves in midair before reaching The Drunk Boat bar on the boardwalk above, near to which a red-faced tourist stands hesitant. Red-faced, not because she is a native of the desert, which she is, but because her Frenchman (he who bathes in shallow waters) has been caught, once again, en flagrant délit with Dame Nature. Yes, caught red-handed (and mud-in-the-hand) as you will soon discover.

It isn't the first time he has been found courting La Dame; take him to the powdery depths of the canyon at Roussillon, and he'll brush red and yellow ochre across his stubbled face. "A tradition," he explains (the earth-smearing, not the stubble). Bring him to a crowded beach in his beloved Marseilles, and he will inhale the salty waters beyond (via a noisy nose gargle). "Good for the sinuses," he exclaims. Cart him off to the wild garrigue and he will begin chewing on the local herbs (good for the gums, I wonder?). Go where he may, and he will find a way to press the earth unto himself. He's Monsieur Nature.

Back at the bay in Locmaria, it is another day in Paradise for Monsieur Nature, who can be found applying mud—sloshing it on from neck to knee—only, he calls it vase (pronouncing it "vaz," as if a neat word would render his act less, well, filthy).

Standing knee-deep in the ocean, he scoops up the smelly vase, slops it on his arms and across his chest before a vigorous scrub-down, oblivious to the audience now gathering before him: there are the seagulls, beady eyes bulging, and the little crabs looking on, astonished, and even the mussels—clinging to a nearby rock—have opened their shells for a look-see. "Get a load of this," they clatter, their long, salmon-colored tongues wagging.

This, dear reader, is my mud-faced conjoint and that curious behavior of his, in a clamshell, is the difference between him and me; the difference, I now realize, between really living life and poetically lusting after it from the boardwalk above.



*     *     *
 EDITS HERE PLEASE. Click the previous link to point out any typos or obvious ambiguities in this story. Thanks!

French Vocabulary

habitée (habiter) = inhabited
les Groisillons = inhabitants of the Island of Groix
la bicyclette = bicycle
The Drunk Boat (Le Bateau Ivre) = the name of a bar along the boardwalk
le conte = tale, story
la marée = tide
pris en flagrant délit = caught in the act
la Dame Nature = Mother Nature
la garrigue = wild Mediterranean scrubland
la vase = slime, mud, mire
le conjoint, la conjointe = spouse

French Pronunciation:
Listen to the word "conjoint" in the following sentence: Je vous presente mon conjoint. Please meet my wife (or husband). Download conjoint.wav.


DSC_0014
Missing a little French in your weekend? Love photos of France? Check out Cinéma Vérité.

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.

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

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


angoisse

Redvine
A certain redhead wowed him and that is how the love affair began. Read about my rival, below.

From a farm in California to one in France... Divisadero: a new book by Michael Ondaatje. Read more here.

angoisse (ahn-gwace) noun, feminine
  anxiety; fear

Toute angoisse est imaginaire; le réel est son antidote.
All fear is imaginary, reality is its antidote.

                                  --André Comte-Sponville
.

Column
Roland Garros* is underway here in France and my husband, a former tennis teacher, should be glued to the tube cheering Amélie Mauresmo to a victory and screaming insults at the screen after Sébastien Grosjean lost. So why is he outside talking to himself?

I let the curtain fall to a close before slipping out to the front porch across from where Jean-Marc is emptying his garage cellar, transferring cases of wine to the back of his car and muttering something about "ce con de vent!"*

"Everything OK?" I ask, for the third time since he returned to Les Arcs to visit the kids and me for the weekend and to help pack another load for our imminent move north.

"Oui, ça ira,"* he assures me. He is just concerned about our vines back in the Rhone Valley. Apart from the diabolic wind, which is breaking vine limbs left and right, certain grapevines are stricken with mildew, Jean-Marc explains, while others are in need of an immune system boost.

Though I have a hard time picturing the immune system of a grapevine, it doesn't take a magnifying glass to reveal the stress written across a new farmer's face. Since I last saw my husband, five days ago in Sainte Cécile, vertical lines have appeared across his weatherworn cheeks giving the impression that he has suffered a coup de vieux.* The deep facial lines, like fissures after an earthquake, hint at the turmoil beneath the surface. As for the weight loss, I had chalked that one up to the maladie d'amour* which is exactly what befell Jean-Marc last November when he first laid eyes on her. Or "them" I should say--all 30,000 fluttery-leafed Céciliennes,* vines which he later agreed to love and to cherish in sickness and in health.

It is the wind and the breakage that obsesses Jean-Marc the most. All those fragile broken limbs left in the wake of a méchant* Mistral. It feels as if each vine is a child and each child has fallen out of a tree to lie helpless on the ground. Jean-Marc cannot bear the silent screams any longer.

"Don't worry about the wind!" I tell him. "Grapevines have been whipped around like that for thousands of years! Besides, there is nothing you can do about it--short of attaching a splint to each and every vine!" Jean-Marc can't deny that. Instead he nods, sighs, and waits as I search the bathroom for facial moisturizer. The cabinets are almost empty now, but there under the sink, lying on its side, is a near-empty tube of emollient cream. I pound the plastic container against my palm and collect enough of its contents to fashion a thick mask across my husband's wind- and worry-ravaged face.

The mini spa soin* seems to work and Jean-Marc begins to forget about the stresses up north: the needy vines as well as the farmhouse renovation which he is supervising.

I put the finishing touches on the mask, assuring him that those deep lines will be gone in no time. I only wish I could say the same about his worries.

......................................................................................................
References: le Roland Garros (the French Open) = tennis tournament held in Paris; ce con de vent = this damn wind; oui, ça ira = yes, it will be OK; (donner) un coup de vieux = to put years on/to age someone; la maladie (f) d'amour = love sickness; un cécilien, une cécilienne = one who lives in the town of Sainte Cécile-Les-Vignes; méchant = mean; le soin (m) = treatment

:: Audio File ::
Listen to Jean-Marc recite today's quote: Download Angoisse.wav ...link not working? Try this one: Download Angoisse.mp3 Toute angoisse est imaginaire; le réel est son antidote.

Terms & Expressions:
  une crise d'angoisse = an anxiety attack
  l'angoisse métaphysique = angst
  avoir des angoisses = to feel as if one is suffocating

French items:
Speaking of tennis...have you ever listened to former French Open winner Yannick Noah sing?  check out Métisse(s) for songs in French
French Music of the 20th Century: Poulenc/Milhaud/Messiaen
And speaking of stress... Bach's Rescue Remedy
The Jet Lag Bag
- Anti-Stress Travel Pack

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.

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

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


la mère porteuse

Jean-Marc Espinasse (c) Kristin Espinasse
Jean-Marc who earned the title "Chief Grape" after years of caring for his precious "babies". Read about them, in the following story. 


la mère porteuse (mair-por-tuhz) n.f.

  : surrogate mother

(One who carries a child for a couple or for a single person is also called "une mère accoucheuse")

Click on the following French sentence to hear it spoken by Jean-Marc:

La législation concernant les mères porteuses est encore assez floueThe legal position concerning surrogate mothers is still quite vague. 
--from Insider's French: Beyond the Dictionary


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Three days each week my husband can be found two-and-a-half hours north of here, in Sainte Cécile les Vignes, caring deeply for somebody else's grapevines.

While I am needed here at home, unable to join Jean-Marc during this exciting time, he does his best to share the experience with me.

"Oh, they are healthy!" he says of the vines, like a proud mother-to-be who has just received a clean bill of health from her midwife. Jean-Marc puts the portable phone to his belly, level with the tall vines, and I can just hear our "children's" heartbeat: it is the creaking of the dormant, woody vines as the wind whips through the valley of the Rhône.

"But isn't it cold?" I worry.

"The wind is good for them--keeps them dry and free from disease!" Jean-Marc assures me, as a mother-to-be might assure her husband that all the ice cream she is eating (calcium!) is, in fact, good for the fetus.

Lately, I see Jean-Marc as the surrogate mother. While he isn't actually carrying a baby, he is caring for someone else's grape, touching and nurturing vines that we hope will one day be ours. Our new vine babies are still in the womb, so to speak, as we cannot yet hold them--or rather "hold title" to them--and while we are hopeful to get the bank loan, we have yet to sign the final purchase papers.

But back to our surrogate mom who, I might add, positively glows these days as any woman with child would. I can't help but compare these very different, yet similar periods of gestation: just as Jean-Marc was helpless to assist when I was "with child," trusting me to eat right and get enough sleep, I must now trust that he is making the right decisions for our future "children".

"I am not going to use pesticides," he declares over the phone, in yet another long-distance call from our future vineyard. It is as if he has said "I am not going to give the children antibiotics!"

"But won't they fall ill?" I fret, a couple of hundred kilometers away from being able to help out (or to intervene!).

"It is important to build their resistance!" he says, rather protectively.

Hanging up the phone, I feel a sort of envy that only helpless husbands can feel for the glowing mother-to-be, maker of so many delicate and vital decisions. I want to participate in my "children's" development, yet can't. The only one I can care for is my tired and moody, ice-cream-guzzling "wife".

Returning home after another weekly trip north, our surrogate mother complains.

"Oh, j'ai mal au dos!"* he groans, taking off his heavy pruning belt. "Be careful with your back," I warn, fixing him a cup of tea, adding an extra bit of milk....

Tired as he is, our glowing mère porteuse* has already got the "nannies" lined up (a few calloused-handed men in steel-toe boots) and has given them their orders: no harsh chemicals, only organic supplements such as copper and sulfur.

"Be sure to feed them good minerals!" he orders, wondering if he should really trust others to care for his young'uns.

If all goes according to plan, we will hold title to twenty-one acres of vines by the end of March. For now, there is nothing for a future caretaker to do but to trust and wait; I must relax, letting my wife bring those grapes to term. The needy vines will be here soon enough, hungry, crying to be held (pruned), changed (harvested), and fed a careful and regular measure of minerals--at which point I will be left with one exhausted partner, moaning about how the past two trimesters have wreaked havoc on his once lithe body: "Oh, my chapped hands! Oh, my aching back." And I'll shake my head and think to myself, Oh, women!

***
Update: 1n 2012 Jean-Marc adopted some olive trees... and planted vines at Mas des Brun, near his beloved Mediterranean Sea. Read our memoir, The Lost Gardens, for the whole story.
...................................................................................................
avoir mal au dos = to have a backache; avoir mal au dos = to have a backache; la mère porteuse (f) = surrogate mother

Venddange jean-marc harvesting grapes in st cyr sur mer south of france

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.

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

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Percer & How to say earrings in French

stone chapel in Sauze, France (c) Kristin Espinasse

NEW! Don't miss Jean-Marc's new podcast--hear his most recent column in French & English: http://a-la-recherche-du-vin.typepad.com

percer (pehr-say) verb

 : to make an opening, a hole; to pierce, to drill

Proverb:
  L'eau douce gouttant sur la pierre dure finit par la percer.
  Fresh water dripping on hard rock ends up piercing it.



A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Jean-Marc took Jackie to the Carrefour mall in Trans-en-Provence to get her oreilles pierced. I stayed home to lessen some of the angoisse that would soon overtake my daughter, though she denies any fear--so desperately does she want to wear real earrings and not the glittery stick-on kind.

Jean-Marc brought along two tiny silver dolphins, the boucles d'oreilles Jackie had begged for at the Yellowstone Park gift shop during our latest visit to the States. I wish she had chosen the Geyser Pen or even the Old Faithful shot glass (she could have stored her beads inside there) and, besides, what kind of souvenir do dolphins make when, really, the park is full of bison and bears? The earrings, I warned her, she would have to save until she was twelve because that's how old I was when my mom drove me to Metrocenter Mall to get my ears done--this, after I convinced my sister to stick a halved pomme de terre behind one of my ear lobes--which she did--only I passed out on the moquette before needle ever hit ear, let alone patate.

A small hour* after father and daughter had left for the ear-piercing procedure, my girl came running across the yard wearing a smile as big as the hoop earrings those cagoles* sport down south.

At the lunch table Max and I study the rhinestone studs on either side of a grinning girl's face; that's when Max asks if he can get an ear pierced. The Frenchman sitting across the table just about gags on his green bean omelet before his daughter replies, "Well then, Max, maybe he'll let you pierce your nose?!"

***
Jackie earrings
Picture of Jackie taken a year or so after getting her ears pierced. Hoop earrings are called
"créoles" in French

French Vocabulary

une oreille = ear

une angoisse = anxiety

une boucle d'oreille = earring

la pomme de terre = potato

la moquette = carpet

la patate = potate

"a little hour" (from the French, "une petite heure")

la cagole = a woman of easy virtue and vulgar language

Audio File Listen: Hear my son, Max, pronounce the word 'percer': Download percer.wav

Expressions:
  percer les oreilles = to pierce one's ears; percer ses dents = to teethe

Conjugation: je perce, tu perces, il/elle/on perce, nous perçons, vous percez,
ils/elles percent

French synonyms: trouer, perforer, transpercer, forer

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.

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

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety