Monday, September 15, 2008
Our tractor's girophare (upper left) and Braise-the-Dog (lower right, hidden). Click on image.
Today's word is "girophare", though "friggin' girophare" would be more correct, or simply "frigging" (which fits the mood of our story better and which is, you all might agree, a much more common and useful word (never mind the English) than "girophare"). Hélas, as this Gallic gazette is used in classrooms, we'd best stick to "girophare" as our French Word of the Day. So here goes:
girophare (zhee-roh-far) noun, masculine
: revolving light
Listen to today's word (here Download girophare.mp3 or here Download girophare.wav ) and hear an example sentence. Can you understand what Jean-Marc is saying? Add your interpretation to the comments box.
... and lest you still think "girophare" is a useless word, my sister-in-law, Cécile, who is seated beside me wearing a T-shirt that reads "No Brain No Pain" argues--having passed her French driver's license three times: one for her car, one for her motorcycle and one for her poids lourds*--that girophare is a
useful term--if only to know for which emergency vehicle to yield to (the ones with the blue girophares, is it)?
* le poids lourd = tractor-trailer
Yesterday, day seven of the wine harvest, we trucked out to the garrigue to pick the grenache and carignan grapes. The Mistral was out and whipping through the vines which, in turn, would whack us with their dry, leafy arms as we advanced through the muddy vine rows. But today, the "harvest hazards" were far beyond that of a few scratchy, face-slapping vines, far greater than a few scraped and swelling shins and a bad back....
As we approached the vine rows, we saw them: les chasseurs! We stood frozen, exaggerating the fear on our faces, in hopes of communicating our message to the "meat harvesters". One of them, a rifle slung over his shoulder, approached.
"We are harvesting today," my brother-in-law, Jacques, pointed out. The hunter simply nodded, and I didn't see his convincing eyes as my own were glued to that gun.
"Ça fait peur, non?" I questioned, not knowing how else to communicate my angoisse to the hunter. The latter walked on and, like that, buckets slung over our own shoulders, we took our posts: one petrified picker per vine row.
Soon, we blended so well into the leafy vines that, except for a bright yellow casquette here, and a red hood there, you hardly noticed us but for the trembling vine leaves that gave us away: as harvesters... or as javelinas?
My sister-in-law and her friends, Jack and Aurélie, quickly advanced to The Front Lines, closest to the shots which ricocheted through the valley. As for me, I was lagging, the last of the pickers... until I realized that the man with the rifle was behind even me.... I have never picked grapes so fast and,
lickety-split, I'd emptied five vines of their fruit in time to find myself back "in the safety of numbers".
POP-POP-POP! Bang, bang, bang! The shooting recommenced, never mind the assurances of the voiceless hunter.
"What are they hunting?" Erin asked, and I noticed her calm demeanor.
"Sanglier?" I offered, remembering the apple enticements that my neighbor had distributed throughout his own parcel of vines... just one field over!
"Perdreaux," Jean-Marc guessed. Ouf! Perdreux seemed like a safer bet to me, for you had to shoot toward the sky for birds, didn't you? ... and not into a field of camouflaged pickers!
Stepping over the shell of an expended cartouche, I felt a chill rush up my
spine and I could no longer contain Anxiety. "I HATE THIS!" I shouted.
"Will you stop!" Jean-Marc's slapping remark felt like a bucket of cold water to the face.
"I can't help it!" I replied, still smarting from his remark, and remembering one too many stories about a women being mistaken for a wild boar. This, coupled with those poachers... and their penchant for pastis.... did little to reassure.
"The hunters are out in the forest," Jean-Marc explained, changing his tone and trying to be reassuring. "It just SOUNDS like they are closer," he said, tossing another grappe into a bucket.
It was no time to argue about there not being a forest in the environs... just fields and fields of grapes... and so I let the other harvesters comfort me.
"You are more likely to get cut with pruning shears than shot by a hunter," Aurélie assured, and I looked down at my hands to the various cuts collected over the course of the harvesting week, unsure about Aurélie's statistics and just where we stood with them now. Wasn't it about time to get shot?
Bang, Bang, Bang! POP-POP-POP!
On this latest round of gunfire I noticed how Jean-Marc casually climbed into the tractor and switched on the flashing girophare located on the roof of the tractor cab.
"A little concerned, are you now?!" I barked at my husband.
"I just turned on the girophare to reassure you!" he protested.
"And to signal to THEM that there's more than feathers behind these friggin' vines -- n'est-ce pas? Eh ben--c'est VACHEMENT RASSURANT!"*
*** END***(photo, with Jacques. I'm the one wearing a pained-petrified look).
A note to Martha and Judy (wives of Charles and John) and to Erin and Ross's parents: No worries! The hunters are gone today (and for the rest of the harvest); only the mean Mistral to contend with from here on out.
Post note: we finished harvesting that parcel of grapes in record time -- so fast that Jean-Marc announced that the harvest would end two days sooner than expected. Calculate for yourself just how those meat harvesters figured into THAT equation.
(It's late now, and I've got to go and get the kids from school... then catch up on the housework. Would you all like to pitch in and help put together a Reference section for today's column? Please add the asterisked terms & expressions to the comments section* and merci beaucoup/much obliged!)
*Please do not email the translations, but use this link (to the comments box) to submit a translation. Corrections always welcome!
Fascinating France Trivia Card Game boxed set
Don't Pardon My French ~ French Language Trivia Card Game boxed set
Atlas Pocket Classics: France: (Travels with a Donkey, Gleanings in France, A Motor-flight through France)
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety