Photo of Port des Capucines from my Instagram where I have been posting a daily photo and French word all week. Be sure to hit the follow button on my Instagram for the daily updates.
Today's Word: décompresser
: relax, chill, chill out
Audio/Listening: Click the following link to hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French words in the following story. Then scroll down to the vocabulary list to check your French comprehension.
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
"Chilling" in French
When Jean-Marc returns home from work in winter he sets down his trusty leather bag, "Mr. Sacks", and heads straight to la cheminée. "Bonsoir, Chérita!" he sings, in passing. As he builds a fire, I'm curled up on the couch nearby, trying to contain a day's worth of thoughts in the time it takes my husband to décompresser, or chill, from a long day at his wine shop.
Recently when he returned, he must have brought with him a generous sprinkling of pollen, because I began sneezing uncontrollably as soon as he walked through the door. ATCHOUM! ATCHOUM! ATCHOUM! So much for a peaceful accueil. A day later, Jean-Marc was the one sneezing. "Je ne sais pas ce que j'ai!" he complained. His head was "dans le brouillard" and he had le nez qui coule. "I think it's allergies," I said. "It's that time of year."
"Peut-être," he said, reaching for another mouchoir. I made a mental note to buy more Kleenex and observed my husband as he skipped dinner, drank a warm tisane, and managed to stay up late enough to watch le foot (that's soccer, in French, and that night was PSG - Real Madrid!). But by the next day he was in worse shape, and I guessed he was worn out from sneezing and blowing his nose. The French call hay fever le rhume des foins (foins corresponding to dried grass or hay) or la rhinite saisonnière and it is the first time Jean-Marc's suffered from it, or so he thinks.
And that's the problem with seasonal allergies—they’re so easy to confuse with a cold. Maybe his yearly cold was hay fever, after all?
Still, he is complaining of les courbatures and chills--two symptoms not associated with allergies. And this throws a wrench in plans for today's essay (which was supposed to be all about hay fever!). We still don't know what Jean-Marc has (he tested negative for Covid), but I hope it isn't la grippe.... Meantime he's headed back to the snowy Alps to ski and to help out our daughter (maybe catching her Dad's cold is not what Jackie had in mind when she reached out to us recently...).
As for me, I'm learning to stay out of it (or most of it): let everyone decide for themselves and live with their own decision-making. Best to stay curled up on the couch and keep my many thoughts and opinions to myself so that everyone can décompresser (my husband is certainly chilling--et c'est le cas de le dire!). I’m a lot more chill these days too, and that (first line in this last paragraph) is my new tool in my Human Relations tool belt.
And now, a good day to all, thank you for reading and remember to look out for yourselves...as you continue to quietly look out for others.
la cheminée = fireplace
Chérita (from "chérie") = dear
décompresser = to chill, relax
atchoum! = atchoo!
un accueil = reception, welcome
Je ne sais pas ce que j'ai! = I don't know what I have
dans le brouillard = head in the fog
le nez qui coule = runny nose
peut-être = maybe
la tisane = herbal tea
PSG - Real Madrid = the Paris and Madrid soccer teams
la rhinite saisonnière = seasonal rhinitis
le rhume des foins = hay fever, allergic rhinitis
les courbatures = aches and pains
c'est le cas de le dire! = and you can say that again!
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety