Try this in the New Year: s'aérer l'esprit

Wearing wetsuits to walk in the winter sea in La Ciotat

Walking in the sea, mid-January, in La Ciotat, France. Some wore wetsuits, others (as in a man we saw just this morning) wear only an iconic Speedo!

s'aérer l'esprit

    : to clear the mind

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc read the following French words:

S'aérer l'esprit

s'aérer l'esprit. marcher, promener, gambader, sont des bons moyens pour s'aérer l'esprit
clear one's mind. (to) walk, walk, gambol, are good ways to clear the mind.


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

by Kristi Espinasse

I've always liked the idea of a "tool belt" when it comes to finding relief from a difficult, tricky, painful or otherwise impossible situation. Number one in my toolbag, or belt, as you well know if you have read this journal for a while, is scripture (bilingual is especially helpful). 

The second tool, or outil, I hinted at in the "enchanted" post: a good devotional, or little book of méditations quotidiennes.

And today's tool is the third (hammer? wrench? screwdriver? measuring stick! yes! much more positive-sounding--for we do grow each time we find ourselves gripping for a tool in our trusty belt). Here's that tool, and not necessarily in order of importance (for I have not yet mentioned family and friends--they are essential in our emergency sacoche à outils!)

Walking in Cassis France

LA MARCHE - that's it, Tool Number 3 is walking. What I especially like about walking is the multiple benefits that come from the single act of putting one foot in front of the other. Firstly, it is symbolic: it is a stepping forth. We literally cannot remain in the same (stuck) place when we step forth. Alors, en avant!

Then there is the change of scenery which must, if we open our eyes (for who walks with les yeux fermés?) change the picture (sad, fearful, coléreux?) in our mind. Of course it is possible to walk and remain focused on whatever is eating at us. We can literally see right through the objects coming toward us (such as other walkers). But if we refocus, say, on another ambulating soul, in time to glimpse the expression on their face - we realize we are not alone in our emotions. 

Yesterday, while researching the topic of walking, The title of a YouTube video caught my attention: Walking and Silence. Here's a man that decided, one day, to shut up or se taire (after thinking he knew everything) and walk across America. It was either this or become a monk. This black man with dreadlocks and I have at least two things in common: as a last-ditch effort we have both seriously considered living in a cloister. Pour toujours! And both of us have come to the conclusion that walking might be a more realistic place to start.

To start to find peace (or enlightenment? or resolution? closure? ...You fill in the blank!).

   *    *

Calanque of port d alon
A favorite place to walk is in the calanques or sea-inlets.



I would love to hear about your experiences walking. Tell me all the benefits it brings you, why you do it, where you do it--what you like to do when you're doing it (listen to music? chat with a friend?). Or, if you don't walk, tell me what you do to clear your mind. For that is the word of the day "s'aérer l'esprit). To comment, see the link at the end of this post. 

Walk in a Relaxed Manner: Life Lessons from the Camino, click here to order

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

Paris to the Pyrenees: A Skeptic Pilgrim Walks the Way of Saint James

Women's Fitness walking shoes

Lastly, this book: Meet Peace Pilgrim, who crossed the U.S. on foot seven times with only the clothes on her back to spread her message of peace. She lived off the land and the kindness of those she met, sleeping outdoors, on cement floors, in parked cars and, once, on the front seat of a fire engine in Tombstone, Arizona. Whenever she ran into trouble – from blizzards to black eyes – her sole response was love. order here

Flowers at the port of Bandol France

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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randonnee

"Roof Support" (c) Kristin Espinasse
Leaving France behind... in the following edition. Picture taken near Sablet and Gigondas (that's Mont Ventoux in the background); today's photo may as well be titled "How to Keep Your Roof on in the Windy Vaucluse". (Squint your eyes in time to see the rocks that are holding down the roof tuiles...)

une randonnée (ran doh nay)

    : walk, ride, outing, excursion

une randonnée à pied = hike
la randonnée = hiking
le randonneur, la randonneuse = hiker

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

Le mois dernier, nous avons fait une longue randonnée dans le désert. Last month we had a long hike in the desert.
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 Exercises in French PhonicsExercises in French Phonics bestseller on French pronunciation and how to pronouce French words correctly! (click here)

 

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

Note to newsletter readers: the underlined words in the following text correspond to stories from the archive. Click on the words to read the passages.

Last month I visited family in Mexico and in Arizona and, in both countries, I had the chance to meet up with readers of this blog. The friends in Mexico taught me restaurant etiquette, or "How To Send Back an Order!"(simply complain: "These eggs are as cold as a dead man's butt!"). So far I haven't had the occasion to use the insult. Maybe you have?

Meantime, no dead butts in Arizona... where we busted ours for an early morning randonnée. The pressure was off from the get-go (the theme of the meet-up was The Horizontal Hike...)  and we walked slow enough to sip coffee as we strolled. I leave you with those photos...

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One last cuppa before heading to the trail... from left to right: that's Herm, Naoma, Sharron (Herm's wife), Lynn, and Judy.   

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From left to right: Rita, my sister Heidi, Karen, and Susan.

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Judy, Ann, and Gaelle, whom I kept calling "Susan". Now I'm having doubts about "Ann", whose name I may be mistaking...

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Chasing our shadows into the desert... In the lead, that's Gabriel, his sister Monet (left) and their mom Ronnie (behind Gabriel). C'est moi, to the right, in the beige pants.

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These three to the right (Ronnie, Heidi, and Karen) were focusing in on the baby coyotes that barked or howled or yelped (???) excitedly up the hill.

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This is Randy, who drove over from Cave Creek, AZ. I informed him of my short-lived waitressing job in Cave Creek (in a former life in the desert...). Randy had never heard of "The Desert Deli" and I began to wonder whether it was all a dream... one great mirage!

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Stone Sculpture... Those Palo Verde branches are tickling the têtes of Ronnie, Monet, and Gabriel. Can you hear them giggling?

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These two desert dwellers belong to Lynn (that's her husband, left) and Ronnie (that's her son, Gabriel, right)...

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There's Lynn and her husband. And that's Ann (I think...), right. "Ann" didn't sign my guest book (or did she?). Now I'm having doubts...

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There's You Know Who... and that's my sister, Heidi. Cute photo, non? I wished I had on what my sister had on (don't we always?) but my legs were "blanc comme un cachet d'aspirine" or white as a pill, so it was "no deal".

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And this is Karen, left, who, along with Herm, made this French meet-up possible! Many thanks again to Herm and to Karen for everything. (And thanks, Karen, for the lovely scarf! It has that European elegance... yet there's a certain Aztec flair!)

 

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This is Herm, whom you may know from the comments box. He occasionally shares a poem with us there. This time he shared one with me, here, as a souvenir of our Horizontal Hike. I had the chance to meet many of the "characters" in the following poem.  Herm writes:

Welcome to my space on the planet
in a secluded wash just off the trail
Join in with my friends... The critters,
singing birds and a few colorful quail

With Palo Verde trees on both sides,
It's a pleasantly cool and shady spot
Especially good in the midst of summer
when the dry winds blow un-Godly hot

Occasionally someone on their daily
hike will leave the trail to take a peek
At the rare saguaro cactus down in the
wash, a one of a kind, said to be unique

The excitement, the wonder in their eyes
and, oh, the surprised look on the face
they stand in awe... they can't believe
Siamese twins; bodies joined at the base.

--Poem by Herm Meyer
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Le Coin Commentaires
Corrections, comments, and stories/poems of your own are welcome in the comments box. Tip: this is a good place to ask and answer each others questions on France and French life! Click here to leave a message.
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Thanks for visiting today's sponsor!

 

In film:  Paris Je T'aime & My Father's Glory

In the kitchen: Emile Henri Provençale Pie dish in azure blue! 

In the garden: I'm looking forward to planting sunflowers again this year. Why not plant some with me? Click here and choose a packet!

Az desert

Thank you, Herm, for sending in this photo. Herm writes:

Here's a photograph of a photographer photographing a photographer photographing a Stone Sculpture.....

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


fugueuse


Almond Trees (c) Kristin Espinasse

       Almond trees, "lemons", or jalopies... near the town of Orange, France.

fugueuse (foo geuhz) noun, feminine

    : a runaway

=> the masculine is fugueur (foo guer)
=>Also: la fugue: running away ; faire une fugue or fuguer = to run away ; le fugitif (la fugitive)

Sound File: Listen to American-accented French... in today's audio file (the Francophones in the house are doing la grasse mat* or "the sleep in"...):
Download MP3 or Download Wav

Braise, "la fugueuse", est rentrée avant hier après un l-o-n-g périple!
Braise, the runaway, returned day before yesterday.... after a l-o-n-g journey

*faire la grasse matinée = to sleep in  

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

"A Sensational Walk in the Country"

There's plenty of time to collect a branch or two of almond flowers alongside the path, or sentier... for our dog, Braise, is dragging and I have to slow down and turn around several times to egg her on.

"Qu'est-ce qu'il y a, Fugueuse?" I tease our 5-year-old runaway. "Trop fatiguée? Et ben, je me demande pourquoi?!"

Our dog's recent escapade was enough to tire out my very tear ducts! Who knew that tear ducts could ache? A day and a half! One entire night! It was her longest disappearance.

What is sure is that our golden girl needs more exercise, more adventure... and it is up to us to get her out and about every day... else suffer another anguishing all-nighter!

Mmanm's photo's 269

"Come on!" I call, heading out to the river. The surrounding grapevines are leaf-bare and a blurry man is pruning them. I squint my eyes but he still won't come into focus, and so I do the wave: the big friendly whoever-you-are-I-salute-you! wave. It works and the stranger returns the greeting!

Braise would like to be even more amicale... she'd like to mosey over and discover just what's in the farmer's casse-croûte... but her roaming days are over (!) and I shout for her to follow us (not that Smokey is following along any better: he's taken along a picnic of his own in the form of one chewy oreille de cochon).

Between Braise's dragging feet and Smokey's smokey treat (he is obliged to pause every two minutes to lie on the ground and chew), ours is a slow stroll.

There is time to collect several branches of wild rosemary, the purple-blue flowers looking unusually true. After a despairing night, my senses are strangley "bright", so that when the noisy mallards glide out of the ruisseau... I am thunderstruck. I stop to watch in awe as the ducks fly off. 

Quickly, I step over to the stream, which is filled with irises -- soon the yellow flowers will pop out. But I am no longer searching for first flowers... it is the canetons that I'm interested in. When will the baby ducks appear?

Ma and Pa Canard are now circling cautiously above our heads and I understand only too well their concern...

I call after our furry fugueuse and our trio walks on amid flowering trees and morning song. It is time for us to return home from this sensual balade. So much to be grateful for. Yes! Thank God, Braise is back! 

 
Le Coin Commentaires
Join us here, in our community corner. Respond to today's story, offer a correction, or ask each other questions about French or France! Click here to enter the discussion or simply to learn from it.


And here's a recent comment from the What to do in Lyon edition. Margie writes: Wow! This was wonderful reading and many fabulous ideas for Lyon. Could we possibly ask same question but substitiute Strasbourg for Lyon? 

 Hi Margie. Yes, definitely! Stay tuned for the What to Do in Strasbourg - Que faire à Strasbourg edition :-) Meantime, Readers, get your ideas ready... and save them for the upcoming post!

Jean-Marc's USA Wine Tour: Meet Chief Grape and taste his wines in New York this Monday March 7th at Vestry Wines from 4 to 7 PM and in many other US cities !

French Vocabulary

le sentier = path

qu'est-ce qu'il y a = what's up? what's the matter?

fugueuse (fuguer) = runaway

trop fatiguée? = too tired?

et ben, je me demande pourquoi? = well! I wonder why?

amical(e) = friendly

le casse-croûte = snack

une oreille de cochon = pig ears (dog treats). These, and more pet supplies here

le ruisseau = stream

le caneton = duckling

le canard = duck

une balade = walk, stroll

***

Capture plein écran 01032011 193918 The Paris Wife: Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Read the reviews, here.

Also see:

Nintendo's My French Coach :

Provendi Revolving Soaps The practical and very neat Provendi revolving soap fixtures have adorned public school washrooms throughout France for years. Now they're turning up in the most chic places. Order here.
It's All About Braise!
DSC_0041
Since Smokey, below right, gets most of the blog space... it is time to shine the light on his Mama Braise! Here she is above, in Sept 2009, with Smokey and sisters... 

 DSC_0009 

And though she lets others jump higher... she is the strongest of all!

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She saved her son... on that fateful day in October, when two dogs attacked and left him for dead. She barked and barked, chasing them away.

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But that doesn't mean she's not une chipie, or "a little devil", ever ready to elope with Smokey's dad, Sam (and ain't he "glam", that Sam (above, left)? Don't miss the story "Lost in Marseilles", when she and her boyfriend almost... almost took the train to Venice for "une fugue amoureuse", or elopement. Click here for the story.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here