Merry Minou (c) Kristin Espinasse
Respirez! Breathe in! And let out all your cares. Photo of a merry minou taken in Nyons.

respirer (reh spee ray) verb

    : to breathe

synonym : souffler

Note: I'm running behind schedule this morning... any terms and expressions related to "respirer" are most appreciated in the comments box only: click here.

Audio File and Example : listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words (Download MP3):

Pour bien vous détendre, il faut respirer profondément.
To relax, you must breathe deeply.

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

H20 and Hieroglyphics

In the corner of the room sits a small, opened suitcase. There are one, two, three books inside - stories I promised she would like. As soon as I can, I'll add my notebook, my eyeglasses, and my tooth guard. (Les dents, elles grinçaient encore hier soir, et je me suis réveillée dans la nuit en train de grignoter mon appareil dentaire!)

A few small piles are stacked beside the valise: jeans... "and bring your white skirt and shorts..." Mom suggested. "Tennies and flip flops...". Check check check. Check check. I will not pack too much... just this one carry-on. No more!

More than a scientific method of packing, I need a scientific method of relaxing. Jules has a tip on that one too, it amounts to these four words of wisdom: "Relax Within I Am."

I know who "I Am" is and I Am is not me... I am simply to break down these words and repeat, as following:

Re ("breathe in!" Mom instructs.)

lax ("breathe out...")

With ("breathe in!")

in ("breathe out...")

I ("in!")

Am ("out... ... ...")

I try this for a time until I begin to notice how my eyes won't stop watering. It is distracting and purpose-defeating (the goal of the exercise being to clear the mind!) to have to reach up and dry my temples and the tips of my ears each time. These are not tears; the water streaming from my eyes, down past my temples, oreilles, and onto my pillow, must be all that extra oxygen that I am breathing in. Or have I got that backwards?: water contains oxygen... No wonder I can't relax when all of the oxygen is leaking out of the corners of my eyes!

I decide to abandon the exercise. I notice that, malgré tout, peace and a certain stillness has encompassed the room. I look slowly over to the window, below which un étendoir steals the patch of sun shining there. On the drying rack I spy Max's basketball maillot, un torchon, some threadbare chaussettes... will I need socks in Mexico?


I breathe in! Above the drying rack I stare at the heart on the window. It is for my daughter. I had drawn it in the steam that had gathered there as I aired out the room this morning. We'd passed a restless night: she, whimpering non-stop from a stomachache and nausea, and I, listening helplessly to her suffering. 

The next morning I threw open the windows. "A little fresh air will do you good!" I explained. On opening the windows the glass quickly fogged up and I reached over and drew the heart. "For you," I pointed out, carving the letter "J" in the center. I signed "Mommy" in cursive, in the lower right slope of the coeur.

The rounded heart and letters had an unexpected exponential effect: my daughter perked right up! "Thank you, Mommy!"

The doodled heart might have been a sackful of her favorite candies or a life-size teddy bear. Her eyes shone in delight.

I sat beside Jackie, shaking my head about those backwards letters: I hadn't anticipated their changing direction... on closing the window... but the effect was not lost and I sat there basking in my patient's appreciation. The gesture had not taken a lot of thought... it had been more of an impulse. 


So much for methodology. In spite of any efforts I'd stumbled onto the tranquil moment and there rested, quietly, gazing at the coeur's reversed letters, or the hieroglyphics of the heart.

 Le Coin Commentaires
Corrections are most helpful and comments are the best return on these stories! To leave a message on the blog, click here

French Vocabulary (coming soon, please check back... meantime enjoy this poem by Newforest: many of you enjoy Newforest's commentary in the "Coin Commentaires" . Enjoy this poem, in French, in response to today's story.):

Sur le carreau d'une fenêtre,
dans la buée,
un doigt trace un coeur
pour J
♥♥ ♥♥ ♥♥ ♥♥ ♥♥

Message en gouttelettes,
Perles d'amour maternel, 
Larmes d'eau de rose
dans la buée du carreau.
♥♥ ♥♥ ♥♥ ♥♥ ♥♥

Larmes hiéroglyphiques,
remède magique
pour le mal au coeur de Jackie
maintenant toute ravie.
♥♥ ♥♥ ♥♥ ♥♥ ♥♥

Un coeur sur le carreau de la fenêtre
un langage à l'envers qui dit:
♥♥ ♥♥ ♥♥ ♥♥ ♥♥ 
Un soupir de bien-être
Oh! Thank you Mommy!


Newforest included this vocabulary guide... to help you with your translation :-)

-> le carreau = tile (ceramic)
Here, carreau (/ vitre) = pane (for a window)
le carreau de la fenêtre = the windowpane

-> la buée = steam, condensation, mist, blur (on your glasses, on a window)

-> tracer = to draw (lines)

-> un doigt = a finger

-> gouttelettes = tiny drops, droplets

-> Perles = pearls

-> amour maternel = maternal love

-> Larmes = tears

-> mal au coeur = stomach pain that makes you feel sick, nauseous. (avoir mal au coeur)
Emotionally speaking, it's what you feel in a sad/hearbreaking situation.

-> toute - here, it has the meaning of completely, thoroughly

-> ravi(e) = delighted, overjoyed

-> à l'envers = upside down, backward, inside out ... You read the newsletter, so you can guess the right expression in French

-> Un soupir = a sigh

-> bien-être = well-being



window (c) Kristin Espinasse

What would you name this one? Could you get away with this kind of window whimsy in your own neighborhood? Click here to leave a comment.

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