Though we still don't know if our loan has been approved, or if our home will be mortgaged, Jean-Marc has gone ahead with the plans for his wine cellar.

hypothèque (ee-poh-tek) noun, feminine

Une dette flottante est un navire hypothèque.
A floating debt is a mortgaged vessel.
--Jean-Charles (French humorist)

At the Crédit Agricole bank I tugged on the perfect green leaf of a benjamin ficus tree. The plant looked real enough but just as I was about to stick my finger into the terracotta pot to check, the banker returned.

"Thanks and we'll be in touch," the banker said, handing us back one French and one American passport, just-copied documents to be added to a five inch thick folder full of information on our vineyard project.

Jean-Marc had spent the last hour trying to convince Monsieur Thomas to lend us the money for the viticole* property. Though we have signed promise papers to buy the vines and handed over the five percent down payment, we are unable to write a check for 95% of the purchase price, due sometime in March.

"If we find a buyer for our own home in the next week, will you reconsider the hypothèque?"* Jean-Marc asked, trying to avoid the short-term mortgaging of our home and the astronomical fees involved. Considering our house had been on the market almost two months it wasn't likely to sell anytime soon, certainly not in off-season. I stared at the hopeful expression on my husband's face, surprised by his wishful thinking. The banker seemed positively amused.

Not five days later, as Bacchus is my witness, a man and a woman walked onto our property and offered to buy our home. On December 30th we signed papers promising to sell it to them.

Until the ink begins to dry on the final contract, the bank loans having come through, we won't know if this vineyard dream is for real or if, like the perfect green leaves of the banker's tree, illusory. Only Bacchus, god of vine and wine, grinning up there in the Ste. Cécilian heavens beyond, knows who will collect those sweet grapes come harvest time.

References: viticole (adj.) = wine, wine-growing; une hypothèque (f) = mortgage

:: Audio clip ::
Hear the French word for mortgage in the following expressions: Download hypotheque.wav

lever l'hypothèque = to take away the obstacle
prendre une hypothèque sur l'avenir = to mortgage the future
hypothèquer = to mortgage, hypothecate, to secure (by mortgage)
une hypothèque à taux variable = variable rate mortgage
une hypothèque de deuxième rang = a second mortgage
une hypothèque sur les biens mobiles = chattel mortgage
un contrat d'hypothèque = mortgage deed
purger une hypothèque = to pay off a mortgage

In books and gifts:
Monet's House: An Impressionist Interior

Travel accessories: silk money belt for travel.

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


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