watercolor by Serge Nicolle











les tourtereaux
(tohr-tewr-elle)noun, plural

Had you been one of the two turtledoves coo-cooing up high on the French telephone fil, you might have spotted another couple, sans plumes, on the patio below.

There, under an old tuile-roofed terrace, just beneath the sleeping bignonia vine, a man and a woman sat, close as the tourterelles on the line above, sharing a small patch of soleil at the end of a long rectangular table, on which their coffee cups rested.

"Tu n'as pas trop froid?" said he.
"No, and you?" said she.

Comme ça, they softly spoke, cooing to one another, each in his (and her) own language.


Is this short, intimate story something to keep--or something to delete? If it's a keeper, can you suggest edits? Many thanks in advance! Click here to add a correction or a comment.


French Vocabulary

le fil
wire, cable

sans plumes
without feathers

la tuile

le bignonia
trumpet vine

la tourterelle

le soleil

tu n'as pas trop froid?
you're not too cold?

comme ça
like that


The following text will not be included in the book.

Listen to eight-year-old Jackie, pronounce the word 'tourterelle': Download tourterelle.wav

Synonyms for tourterelle: le pigeon, la colombe (dove), la palombe (ring-dove), le ramier (woodpigeon)

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This is a nice little piece, although very brief. I would substitute "wire" for "line," though, in the second paragraph, since that's more typically what it would be called here.

Julie F in St. Louis, MO

It's a nice scene, but it's not a story. Forgive me for not having commented on stories in this set before. I don't know the other selections you've made, but your voice as a writer is most distinct when you're telling stories. This scene is good for a slice of life on your blog, but I would imagine that the other pieces (thinking back to the first two books) are a story that resonates (lesson learned, perspective changed, etc.) My two centimes.

Kathy Knight

It sounds like the beginning of a sweet story, but needs a little more added to it. What happens next? Did they notice the lovebirds and smile knowingly at one another?

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

It is a touching scene, a great memory, but I guess I want a little something more with it.

We are to assume the couple is you and your husband, right?

Not sure what more I want to know besides your identities. Preceded by a fight? Preceded by your internal worries that you never quite learn French well enough, with a good enough accent? Was this a moment of accepting your own abilities as well as of the wonderful connection with your husband? Something along that line, though I do not know at all what really surrounded this lovely scene.

Rebeccca Q. T. in Baltimore

I like it. I wouldn't add anything. I think it is short--yes--and maybe it's not a story, per se, but I would put it as a prologue or an epilogue. It's poignant and captures the spirit of your experience.

Ronni S Ebbers

Charming. Please keep it. Eager for brief framework ... an intro of the setting, who is listening, and a brief closing.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you very much for your thoughts about this one. I will think about adding to the story, which is a glimmer of what it is to communicate within a bilingual marriage.


Hi dear Kristin,
This story IS brief, but I think that in its brevity lies much of its beauty!
I love having the ending left to my imagination!
My favorite writings end just this way!
DEFINITELY a keeper,and a wonderful one at that!
Natalia XO

Jackie Smith

There is something very charming about this little piece - I like it just the way it is, leaving the before and after to the reader's imagination.

Susan Carter

Nice, short, very sweet and quite a change of pace from most of your vignettes so I vote to keep it.

Sharon Marchisello

Whether or not you keep this short piece depends on the context where you plan to use it.
When I first read it, I didn't get the point until I saw your comment about it being a glimmer of what it's like to communicate in a bilingual marriage. Then I re-read it and it made more sense:

"Tu n'as pas trop froid?" said he.
"No, and you?" said she.

Comme ça, they softly spoke, cooing to one another, each in his (and her) own language.

Perhaps why I didn't get it at first is because you throw French phrases into English text in all your pieces, so this exchange did not stand out for me. Maybe there's a way to highlight it more to bring the point home.

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