fuseau (fooh-zo) noun, masculine
spindle, bobbin; time zone, time belt
[plural : "fuseaux"]
un fuseau de lavande or un fuseau provençal = lavender wand (hand-weaved lavender flowers... see today's story and photo)
Also: un fuseau horaire = time zone
Hear my son, Max, pronounce today's word and related terms: Download fuseau.mp3 . Download fuseau.wav
At a Tuesday night meeting I attend, a fellow attendee looked at me as though the gift I had just given him was a macramé wall hanging. There was that split-second hesitation, that... "qu'est-ce que je suis censé faire avec ça?" befuddlement that the gift receiver just cannot hide.
I was afraid of this reaction. After all, there was quite a bit of purple ribbon involved... and delicate flowers. It wasn't exactly a gift for a guy, not even for a French guy. But men have sock drawers, I reasoned, and sock drawers always need freshening.... and so this hand-woven lavender wand (my third, and least dreadful, attempt at weaving lavender) would at least be useful if not displayable. More importantly, it would be a respectable enough exchange for the gift that he had thoughtfully given me: a plastic two-ounce bottle of holy water from Lourdes (a bottle, I might add, shaped like the Virgin Mary).
"Je... je...." Monsieur with the thick bifocals stuttered, holding the unnamable object up to the light, hesitating with his remerciement. It being my weakness to nip suffering in the bud--as quickly and painlessly as possible--I almost finished his sentence for him.
This gift exchange took place in my car, after I had picked up my nearsighted (and tongue-tied) passenger -- a retired Frenchman who, I guessed, had had his license revoked at some point, hence my occasional stint as chauffeur to our weekly meeting.
Seated there, in silence, the fragrant lavender wand suspended in the air between us, I had a change of heart. For a moment, my pride got the best of me and I had a mind to shed light on the situation, to point out one man's privileged position. "Listen here, Giftbuster," I thought to say... "Do you know just WHO I AM? Here, before you, is not some Macramé Missy who spends her days weaving organic matter... No! I, Emphatic I, don't normally have time for this sort of "passe-temps"! In fact, passing time is not my luxury, especially as I am perpetually projecting toward the FUTURE, to the land of crowning glory.
The last few words of the imagined tirade struck me back to reality, and I remembered my own not-so-privileged position. Truth was, I'd weaved the "drawer freshener" as an exercise in humility, in an effort to pluck myself from the futile fast track that is vainglory. I'd woven it as a prayer--or prayed it as I wove--intent on tapping into the present moment, the only true eternity.
As a recent pilgrim to Lourdes, where he'd stopped into a cramped souvenirs shop and thoughtfully picked out the two-ounce Virgin, I supposed Monsieur's intentions were the same as mine: we were reckoning with our pasts as best we knew how, there gathered together with the others, each Tuesday night. Of little importance were the lightweight, somewhat looney gifts: the key seemed to be in thinking of the other, for once, instead of the high-falutin' futuristic Me.
And, speaking of the new comments box, visit these links for:
1. Hilarious reader stories about French language faux-pas & mix-ups:
2. Fantastic tips, also by readers, on how to use lavender:
qu'est-ce que je suis censé faire avec ça? = what am I supposed to do with this?
le remerciement = thanks, thank-you, acknowledgment
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety