Wheat Farm (c) Kristin Espinasse
Forget bluegrass - have you ever listened to a field of wheat? (photo taken in Orange)

le blé (blay)

    : wheat

le blé is also slang for "dough" (cash, moola)

la farine de blé = wheat flour
le blé dur = durum wheat
le champ de blé = wheatfield or cornfield
le blé noir = buckwheat 

Check out the latest prices for Kindle, click here and consider ordering today! Your purchase helps support this free language journal. Merci beaucoup!


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

The Sound of Wheat

The morning Mom left I fought the urge to crawl right back into bed. I might have slept all day, behind closed shutters, in a room as dark as a smarting heart. I didn't dare "go there"; instead, there was work to do including stories to write and beds to make. Besides, who could sleep with all the racket outside the bedroom window?

I tuned into the sounds filtering in from the countryside, where the grapevines are so full of leaves you can no longer see the ground beneath their green canopy. Rising from those mysterious depths was a familiar buzz one hears only in summertime: les cigales. They were awake now... only, much too late for Mom to enjoy their song! What should have been an exciting event--the first cicadas of the season!!!--left me feeling even more saddened. What a dirty trick played by the trilling "tree crickets"! They might have had la courtoisie to appear one day earlier in time to tickle a dear mother's ears!

Following Mom's departure, it took a forced change of perspective to set a despondent daughter back on track and, finally, I had an inspiration: Wasn't that, after all, a clever way for Jules to exit: on the wings of cicada song!

In the spirit of changing perspective--and not letting a sunken heart color reality--I headed out to do some errands and discovered that the technicolor world outside my door was still intact.

There was that field of bright yellow tournesols, just outside the town of Orange... yet another first of the season.  I regretted not pulling over to snap a picture of so many sunny faces... perhaps I would get back to it?

And there was that roadside fruit stand--a one-woman show featuring a grandmother, a rickety old bagnole, and a trunk filled with abricots à gogo! It was a little too late to stop for those and so I sped on by....

After finishing errands I found myself rushing home and wondering about that change-of-perspective that I had set out on... what was the good of intention when, in the end, you were not willing to stop, and and look, and taste, and listen! I'd missed the cicadas, I'd missed the sunflowers, I'd missed the rickety trunk of apricots!

In a whirl of regret, I was struck by a brightness entering into my car from the side. I turned to its source... in time to gaze at un champ de blé.

Pulling off the side of the road I lowered the car window and wondered: Have you ever listened to a field of wheat? Stick your ears out now, écoute!, the sound is gloriously "sizzling"!

I sat silently, letting the melody of wheat, along with the lazy, late-spring breeze, envelop me. Earlier, I had rushed right on by the other splendors of the countryside, and here was my chance....


Cars sped by but it was the wheat that now captured my eyes. I could just see the braided wheat tips crowned by those bleached feathery locks. Each blade of wheat might have been a soulful singer and an endless field made for a mesmerizing chorus! I shook my head in appreciation. And I asked once again, Have you never listened to the sound of wheat?


Le Coin Commentaires
Not everyone has the chance to live near a field of grass. But many other mind-altering melodies surround us. Share some of your favorite sounds with us, now. Which are relaxing? Which lift your spirits? Birds or frogs or a streaming river or the bumpings of its traveling logs? A child's sleepy breathing or a co-worker's joyful hum? Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, in the comments box.

Post note: I did go back to that apricot stand, and I regret not taking the time to tell you about the roadside sampling in which strangers stood side-by-side slurping juicy fruit and letting its juices trickle down their forearms - all the way to their elbows and their toes.

Why not forward today's word and story to a friend? Or sign up someone someone for a free French Word-A-Day  

French Vocabulary

la cigale = cicada

la courtoisie = courtesy

le tournesol = sunflower

la bagnole = car (jalopy)

un abricot = apricot

à gogo = galore

un champ = a field

de blé = of wheat

écoute! = listen! 

I meant to record every new flower in the garden... Never too late to pick up here with the first black hollyhock. I had wished for one for a long time! 

    French shopping bag I Heart Paris Shopper: made of recycled material. 1-Percent of the sale of this bag will support the conservation work of the nature conservancy. Order the I Heart Paris bag here.

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. Click on the previous, underlined link, to discover many more French films!


Smokey (here, headed for the river) sends his best regards and would like to humbly suggest that his photo be updated more often. See a cute baby picture here!

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ Give $10    
♥ Give $25    
♥ Give the amount of your choice

To purchase our book-in-progress, click here.


petit bateau pointu (c) Kristin Espinasse

le badinage (bah dee nazh)

    : bantering, repartee

Also: badin, badine (adj: lighthearted, playful) and badiner (to banter, to jest)

sur un ton de badinage = in a bantering, or jesting, tone
Je ne badine pas! = I'm not joking! 

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words: (Download MP3 or Wav file)

Le badinage ou la taquinerie - c'est bon pour la santé!
Bantering and teasing - it's good for one's health! 


Capture plein écran 06062011 070826

The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris

“One of the smartest nonfiction titles for summer reading ... Baxter tracks both the city’s history and the many celebrated figures who have savored the art of walking in one of the world’s most beautiful capitals.” (Christian Science Monitor ). See the reviews, and order the book here.


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

Le Badinage Prolongs Life!

My mother, my son, and I are sitting in la salle d'attente. Mom needs a refill on her medication, Max needs a refill on his prescriptions for asthma and allergies, and I need a booster shot. Doubtful, I open my purse and root through its contents, checking to make sure that I have brought along with me the vaccine. In France, one brings one's pre-filled syringe (sealed and packaged) with one to the doctor - a requirement that still seems outlandish to me. 

Next, I reach up and pat my arm to make sure the EMLA patch (which looks like a big Band-Aid with a creamy, medicated disk in the center) is working. Poking again and again at the patch, I am uncertain. "Strange... my arm doesn't feel numb..." I say to my mom.

I notice that rascally gleam in Mom's eyes that tells me she is about to take this latest whinging -- and run with it. And all it takes is an emphatic "PFFFFT!" for me to understand her feelings about the prissy patch. After having two breasts removed (one in France, the other in Mexico) and a steel plate put into her leg, Jules is not going to let me get away with fretting over a mamsy-pamsy piqûre. Indeed, the woman who pulled out her own troubled tooth while deep in the jungle of Mexico is not going to give too much sympathy to her over-protected daughter.

In my defense I point out that it was the doctor who offered to prescribe the numbing patch, that it wasn't anything I requested. But any explanations were met with rolled eyes and another exclamatory "PFFFT!".
Witnessing the taquinerie between his mother and his grand-mère cherie, Max lights up, always game to join in and pull my leg. Only, this time, he shifts his attention to his grandmother, who is ever ready to join him in another round of plaisanteries.

I listen to the two spar, giggle, and poke each other and when the playfulness gets a little disruptive, I butt in--

"Hey, watch the plants! You'll knock them over!" and "Max! Put that chair down!"

My attempt at controlling the grandmother-grandson duo is met with more Pfffts! and more clucks of the tongues as the two look at me beady-eyed and cynically - only to resume their bantering.

Mom grabs a revue from the stack of magazines and paddles Max with it. Max responds by running circles around Jules until she is dizzy with laughter. (Thank goodness nobody else is around.)

Their voices rise and I am obliged to give another warning or two:

"Shhhh! There are patients in the doctor's office. Max, baisse le ton. Mom, keep it down! The doctor is never going to give you your anxiety medication, Mom, if she sees you are THIS GIDDY!"

Only, it's too late, the door to the doctor's room swings opens and out walks a confused duo: doctor and patient.

The patient exits cautiously... and I stand to greet the doctor. I introduce my mother and quickly offer an apology for all the racket.

The doctor studies our family (two grinning faces and one sour gueule) and gives her diagnosis -- only mania is not the conclusion.

Lui, the doctor explains, pointing to Max, il est en train d'ajouter des jours à la vie de votre maman.

Noticing my dear mom, who was glowing with youthful entrain, I could not argue with the doctor.


French Vocabulary

la salle d'attente = waiting room

un appareil photo = camera

EMLA patch = a dermal anaesthetic in the form of a medicated, cream-filled patch that numbs the skin prior to a shot

une piqûre = injection, shot

la taquinerie = teasing

baisse le ton = lower your voice 

la gueule = face

Lui, il est en train d'ajouter des jours à la vie de votre maman. = He is adding days to your mother's life.

l'entrain (m) = spirit, liveliness (and "avec entrain" = with gusto)

The book I took with me, and enjoyed, on break last week. And my little carnet for jotting down vocabulary, stories, recipes, uplifting words and more! Re My Antonia, by Willa Cather: the writing, especially the descriptions of the countryside in Nebraska, is beautiful. For those of you who need a page-turner with a plot, this isn't it. For those looking who enjoy pastoral writing and a little history, give this book a try. Several anecdotes within the book were eye-opening and I enjoyed the botanical and culinary notes which are scattered throughout. Thanks to those in the "Nebraska Invasion" group*, who gifted me this and another book. *Anne & Lang Anderson; Vikki & Terry Ferris; Steve & Teresa Plamann; and Doug Richard

Check out the latest prices for Kindle, click here and consider ordering today! Your purchase helps support this free language journal. Merci beaucoup!

cheese and mint quiche tart menthe chevre
Those goat cheese and mint tarts I told you about in a previous story... Want to make one? Just take fresh goat cheese (or the log-shaped version found here in France), cut in slices and place in the bottom of the tart. Next, add plenty of mint leaves. In a bowl, beat two or three eggs and sour cream (or liquid cream). Add salt, pepper, and herbs (thyme, rosemary...). For extra goodness, sprinkle on some gruyère. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes (not sure about temperature...) The pie crust is store-bought (it unrolls and voilà--is ready to go!). Update: I forgot to mention toasted, sliced almonds! Throw some of these onto the tart, too!

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue this French word journal, now in its 18th year! If you enjoy these posts and would like to keep this site going, please know your donation makes a difference! A contribution by check (click here) or via PayPal (below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ Give $10    
♥ Give $25    
♥ Give the amount of your choice

To purchase our book-in-progress, click here.