The Aosta Valley (Italian Alps). See three adorable Italian brutes (brouters?) here.
brouter (broo-tay) verb
1. to graze, browse (on grass)
2. to chatter, jump, judder (brake, tool); to grab (brake)
Le buffle attaché n'aime pas le buffle qui broute.
The buffalo that is tied up doesn't like the buffalo that grazes.
Brouter.* There's that word again. Just how many times does Alphonse Daudet use it in his famous nouvelles?* Perhaps under a dozen...or over the same.
As for me, I have never used the French word "brouter" until just now, having been bitten by the bucolic bug that was one writer's muse (la vie campagnarde*) and is another's mode de vie.* Impatient to employ the verb, I look out my window in search of grazers. Que dalle.* Not a donkey or a goat in sight (Though I can hear the noisy braying of the former, there across the field, one farm over, behind a row of cypress trees).
While I have yet to witness any "brouters" in my own back yard (not counting our dog, Braise (brez), who has a tummy ache and fancies a grass goûter*) I saw plenty of cud-chewers in the Italian Alps last week, where I devoured Daudet's chroniques* along with uncustomary amounts of crème glacée* (might one "broute" Italian gelato?).
The subject of browsing brings us to grass--something that is decidedly greener in the Aosta Valley, or so it seems after leaving our dusty construction site-slash-home for a needed reprieve. There, in a quiet meadow, I watch the grass-licking cows (have you ever observed a grazing cow? Italian cows lick grass (as if to mimic the tourist-spectators who nurse gelato, en face*).
I finish my cone and bid arrivederci* to the grass-lickers. Time to leave the quiet valley for the Vaucluse, back to Provence (one of the few things I have in common with Daudet). Mr. Daudet, it seems, had the luxury of writing from a quiet moulin.* Tra-la-la! La belle vie!* No hungry, Speedo-sporting lodgers to feed, no laundry to hang, no construction cords to trip over, no sick dogs to
nurse. I am convinced that the grass was greener over there at Daudet's moulin where the writer turned out prose as one turns out a dirt-filled sock before tossing it into the washing machine. (Such is the défi*--or defeat!--of a woman writer: to marry word-wrangling and washing--no matter the century.)
Ciel!* Only I could be jealous of a 19th-century man of letters whose storytelling would be cut short by syphilis! A man who, it turns out, never had the luxury of writing from a quiet moulin but was clever enough to imagine so. For his agile mind nibbled the vast stores of memory--the very grist for his writing mill.
The good news is--the grist is endless and up for grabs to the one who will but graze the sometimes murky pastures of gray matter, the mind being the only place where the grass is truly greener. As for finding the time to do so... best to nibble a few minutes here and there.
References: brouter = to graze; la nouvelle (f) = short story (read Daudet's pastoral "nouvelles"); la vie (f) campagnarde = country life; le mode (m) de vie = lifestyle; que dalle = nothing at all; le goûter (m) = snack; la chronique (f) = chronicle; la crème (f) glacée = ice cream; en face = across (from them); arrivederci = (Italian) goodbye; le moulin (m) = mill; la belle vie (f) = the good life; le défi (m) = challenge; Ciel! = heavens!
:: Audio File ::
Listen to my daughter pronounce today's word & quote:
BROUTER. Le buffle attaché n'aime pas le buffle qui broute.
Wave file: Download brouter.wav
MP3 file: Download broutermp3.mp3
Related terms & Expressions:
un broutard = a grass-fed calf
le broutement = grazing
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