Flench Glossary of Baby Talk: toutou, doudou, bidou, bobo...


Teasel - cardere (c) Kristin Espinasse
Cardère and Salicaire near Montmirail -- not far from the town of Vacqueyras.

trouver (troo-vay) verb
    : to find

Je ne cherche pas. Je trouve.
I do not seek. I find.
--Pablo Picasso

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Audio File: listen to my son, Max, pronounce today's word. Also, hear the verb's conjugation -- followed by the above quote: Download trouver.mp3 . Download trouver.wav

Verb conjugation:
je trouve, tu trouves, il/elle trouve, nous trouvons, vous trouvez, ils/elles trouvent (trouvé)

Tune Up Your French: Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Spoken French

As if by coincidence, prize-worthy plants are popping up all over the French countryside... ever since I began botanical lessons with an herbalist Don Juan.* How is it that the very plants that we are studying are suddenly sporting themselves just outside my front door, there, where they've never grown before?

Or have they?

Knee-deep in a scratchy field of shrubs and weeds I wonder: how could I have ever missed these lavender beauties? Cardère, or "wild teasel", scatters itself not far from the roadside, its "arms" stretched high, its body, lithe. I watch the prickly plant dance in the gentle breeze, nature's botanical ballet free to anyone with eyes to see.

Driving toward Nyons, I glance out the car window. "Acanthus mollis"* waves excitedly. "You-hoo! Here we are... been here all along, just beyond the tip of your nose!" Not one to be snubbed, the plants forgivingly salute me. Surely those flowers were there one year ago? Why didn't I see them (by the dozen!) then?

It is one thing to ignore a plant, quite another to trample over it, dismissively. "They're called "Centaurée du Solstice" Mr. Farjon says, handing me a bunch of Yellow Starthistle* that he's just gathered from the vine field. He points to the flower's sharp "needles," shares a story from his childhood, and adds, as he often does, that while the plant may be "bon à rien" ("good for nothing"... or, in this case, not useful for medical purposes), yet... "ça mérite votre attention". All plants seem to merit our attention, according to Monsieur Farjon.

Last week, on my way to the town of Orange, I skidded to a stop beside a narrow canal. Tall as a topiary top model, "Salicaire"* towered there... as she (he?) must have, last summer....

Resembling a horticultural hitchhiker, planted there beside the road, she all but thumbed a purplish petal. I thought about picking her up. Instead, I remembered an unwritten adage: if ever she be a sole or rare exemplaire,* leave her there! Still in a daze, I pulled onto the road, leaving the other drivers to admire her, gaze after gaze.

As the countryside files by me, I wonder how much I am missing. How many more prize-worthy plants are invisible to this untrained eye? Might there be a flower-elephant traipsing across the road before me -- only I am as yet unable to see it?

Finally, a favorite quote of Farjon's returns to comfort me: "Je ne cherche pas. Je trouve." I do not need to seek these plants and flowers, the colors and the scents of which make me heady. They'll come and find me when I am good and ready.

*     *     *
What are your favorite plants and flowers? Please list them and, if possible, their French equivalents, in the comments box. P.S.: some of my favorites include hollyhocks, sunflowers, valerian, and -- the latest -- monnaie-du-pape.

an herbal Don Juan
= (read about Monsieur Farjon) ; acanthus mollis = "Bear's Breeches" (plant); Yellow Starthistle (Centaurée du Solstice) = a flower that announces summer (solstice); Salicaire =
Purple-loosestrife ; un exemplaire (m) = example, specimen

Monnaie-du-Pape (seeds for which I just planted this morning!)
A lovely garden detail: Fleur de Lis Hose Guard
A Francophile fryer favorite (toile apron)
Oh-so-French coffee mug
Eiffel Tower Tie Tie

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