Gypsy Caravan (c) Kristin Espinasse
I fell in love with this roulotte, or gypsy caravan, in Hyères. Don't show my mom this photo -- or she'll be text messaging me in seconds--and in ALL CAPS--instructing me to cash in the kids' college fund -- and buy the wooden trailer! Travel, Jules might argue, is the best education. More photos in the upcoming photo blog.

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Holy moly! After Monday's ooh-ooh taboo topic, we'll steer clear of Hallelujah... Hobos & Hippies in today's word-a-day!

saisonnier, saisonnière (say-zohn-yay, say-zohn-yair) noun

    : itinerant, seasonal worker

adjective: seasonal (Also: la dépression saisonnière = seasonal depression)

Audio File* & Example Sentence:
Download MP3 -or- Download Wav file

C'est parce que le travail que recherche le hobo est par essence mobile et saisonnier (travaux publics, moissons, etc.) qu'il adopte précisément ce mode de vie et nul autre. A la difference du vagabond, pour lequel "faire la route" se suffit à soi-même...

Anyone care to translate the example sentence? Answers welcome in the comments box!

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

"...the less I have, the more I am a happy man..."

Hippies, Hobos, and How To live life. Such are the thoughts of a 14-year-old. It is late and my son should be in bed. Instead, he tiptoes down tommette* tiled stairs, to the kitchen, to join me at the dinner table, where I have sat down to a late meal, solo.

Max shares with me his day, including les rabs* he ate at the cantine* (he loved the broccoli quiche, which dispels yet another self-made myth: that the French don't like broccoli. I guess you have to team it with eggs and a buttery crust, to experience such broccoli lust). 

I notice the highlights in my son's hair, sun-kissed blond -- and, come to think of it, too long? He'll need to get it cut again soon. Then again, maybe this is the style he's after? As if reading my mind, Max says:

"I am not a hippie... but I think like them."
"Oh really, how's that?" I ask, pushing my plate over to a still-hungry boy.
"I think they are right to bring peace and love into this world," Max states, before quickly finishing off my plate. He is growing and ever hungry for food and, more and more, for meaning; I wish I could give him platefuls of it... instead of asking him to share notes.

When my teenager is not sharing sage words, it is song that he passes along. I leave you with the thoughtful lyrics to one of his favorites. Enjoy them, below, and let Max and me know what you think of the paroles. (The French lyrics follow).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
la tommette (tomette) (f)
= hexagonal floor tile; le rab (m) = seconds (second helping of food); la cantine (f) = cafeteria, dining hall
"Like a Hobo" by Charlie Winston

I’ve always known
Since I was a young boy
In this world, everything’s as good as bad

Now my father told me always speak a true word
And I have to say that is the best advice I’ve had

Because something burns inside of me
It’s everything I long to be

And lies they only stop me from feeling free

Like a hobo from a broken home
Nothing’s gonna stop me
Like a hobo from a broken home
Nothing’s gonna stop me

I’ve never yearned for anybody’s fortune
The less I have the more I am a happy man
Now my mother told me always keep your head on
Because some may praise you just to get what they want

And I said mama I am not afraid
They will take what they will take
And what would life be like without a few mistakes

Like a hobo from a broken home
Nothing’s gonna stop me
Like a hobo from a broken home
Nothing’s gonna stop me

Comme Un Vagabond
J’ai toujours su
Depuis tout petit
Que dans ce monde, tout est aussi bon que mauvais
Mon père m’a dit un jour de toujours dire la vérité
Et je dois dire que c’est de loin le meilleur conseil que j’ai reçu
Parce que j’ai quelque chose qui brûle à l’intérieur
C’est tout ce que je désire être
Et les mensonges ne font que me priver de ma liberté

... French lyrics from GreatSong.Net


Selected Hobo Terms
Tokay Blanket
: drinking alcohol to stay warm
Banjo : a portable frying pan
Blowed-in-the-glass : a genuine, trustworthy individual
California Blankets : newspapers, intended to be used for bedding
Padding the hoof : to travel by foot
Spear biscuits : looking for food in garbage cans not miss many more colorful terms at the Wikipedia entry for Hobo

Three Random Words:
= to burst out laughing
un hochet (m)
= rattle (toy)
un orteil
(m) = toe

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.

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