A condemned door in the town of Visan. Over the bar, the train of life continues and a splash of sunshine reveals itself in the fruit along the vine. Comment on this photo, here.

A is for Allègre, the perfect word for my painterly friend. Read about Tessa in today's story column.

In music: Songs in French for Children

allègre (alegr) adjective

    : jolly, cheerful, light-hearted; lively, merry

  avoir le coeur allègre = to be light-hearted
  marcher d'un pas allègre = to walk briskly, lightly

La musique nous aide à construire nos vies spirituelles, nous apaise, nous console, nous redonne de la joie, nous rend allègre, nous fait danser, chanter. Music helps us to construct spiritual lives, calms us, consoles us, gives us back our joy, renders us cheerful, makes us danse, sing. --Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

Audio File: hear how the French word "allègre" is pronounced, listen to examples:Download Allegre Download Allegre

A so-called southerly wind is steering through our town of Sainte Cécile, causing the rain in its path to spray hither and thither.

From a second-story window now blurry with raindrops, I can barely see three sets of tracks, two dainty, one, dog-pawed, that lead out to the truffle orchard two fields away. How quickly our traces fade!--like laughter in a memory bank of bygone days.

Tess left last night, 24 hours after she'd appeared, with flowers for the front porch, paint brushes in her bag, and poetry knowetry up her sleeve like a trick and a treat.

Tess, left, teaching Max to paint.

Lightness and laughter now mine, it is time--
to further put aside seriousness and, instead,
relax a bit, sit back a bit, and share this friend of mine....

(Introducing Tess, whom I have written about twice* before, and who will now pick up the "pen", in time to recount our weekend replete with hunters, still life, and good times galore...)

"Bliss Holds Us" by Tessa Nelson

Kristi turned to me and smiled, "Why don't you write my post for me?"

"What, write your post!" I said. "I couldn't possibly do that. I wouldn't know where to begin!" A flash of fear rushed through my veins, this woman whose writing I admire so much,  has just offered me carte blanche on her blog. So who am I to refuse, it would be callous and arrogant of me not to accept such a
generous offer.

I am sitting on the sofa, with the comfy sound of the fire, lazy and as relaxed as I am. Braise, the dog, is gazing out of the huge French windows that take my eyes across the grass, and the stream, the little bridge that leads me through the skeleton of winter vines. It's odd, but I can almost feel their pulse: the surge of lime green leaves waiting to push through to see the sun, but they must wait for a few months to come. Meandering, I reach the trees, the place the hunters hide in wait for their prey, and then I look up toward the sky. Mount Ventoux reaches through the clouds, and there my eyes rest, and I feel so glad that I am here.

DSCF4227 Yesterday morning, this balmy relaxed feeling that is wrapping itself around me was nowhere to be found. I always get this feeling that there is so much to do, I can't get away, I must stay at home and work and work and work, but all work and no play is no good for me. David kissed me goodbye, and said "smile, enjoy your time away, there is no point in going if you don't have fun." He was right: I haven't seen Kristi properly since this time last year. I think the spirit of love decided to come on the journey with me. The negative thoughts that had been crowding my mind and suffocating my joy, were being transferred to positive happy thoughts, to all the things that I can do and that I am able to do, all the gifts that God has given me, including my wonderful friends.

DSC_0006 photo, left: Max in his "Marcel" shirt.
I arrived here at lunch time yesterday. Since, we have walked and talked, and walked and talked and eaten. But the most precious moments, have been the times we have all sat together painting around the kitchen table. Jackie, Max, Kristi and I painting still lifes and imaginary paintings. Calm and serenity pervade, and a feeling of bliss holds us. I am indeed a privileged being.

Comments, corrections--and stories of your own--always welcome, in the comments box. Thanks!

You may remember reading about Tess in past issues of this word journal:

Tessa's Chef, Art, Food and Daily Life journal:

The three orange husks, on the right, are "amour-en-cage". Remember the "love in a cage" story?

In Film: The 400 Blows - Criterion Collection

Diary of a Country Priest - Criterion Collection

French food:
Grey Sea Salt/Sel Gris From Guerande, Brittany France

LU Herbes De Provence Flatbread Crackers

The kids and I learned to paint this weekend, can you tell whose is whose? (That's a puzzle from my friend, Alicia, beneath the art.)
I'll try to post a photo of my daughter, next time (she wasn't in the mood for pictures!)

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1. Paypal or credit card
2. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Thank you, Tessa, for a beautiful post! I sneaked a peek at your blog -- your plan sounds terrific. How blessed you are to have such an abundance of talent!


Tessa possède tous les talents: à celui de la peinture et de la nourriture qu'elle sait cuisiner divinement, elle ajoute celui de l'écriture. J'ai suivi avec elle son regard s'égarant par paliers jusqu'à l'horizon, dominé par la masse imposante du Mont ventoux et son évocation des forces de la vie, qui font faire bientôt percer bourgeons et éclater feuilles tendres, quand le printemps viendra.

Pug At The Beach

What a joyous adventure you two were on!

My friend Diane and I did the very same thing a couple of weeks ago. (I think that may be here post there because I sent her this link a short while ago!)

Just like you two, we talked and walked and ate at two wonderful restaurants here in South Florida ~ DaDa's and The Cuban Cafe.

It's important to remember always, and in each day, to take some time for play. It's imperative for the soul's well-being.

Glad you did that for yourself!

Read this post of mine if you ever need a little encouragement to get out there and play a bit!

Diana Taylor
Top Dog
Pug At The Beach
Latitude: N 26 27 39
Longitude: W 80 4 23

Join the adventure:


I want to say the word with a spanish accent Alegria - courtesy a french canadian cirque -


Wonderful today! Art is art. Writing, painting, music making. You are all gifted. Loved the poetry knowetry phrase. But most of all, I felt a sort of homesickness when you mentioned that you could see Le Mont Ventoux. We can see it from our window in a very favorite place in Venasque. Unfortunately, we are not there. We are in deep snow and more on the way just south of Lake Michigan. Thank you, Kristi, for FWAD. It's always a bright spot for a francophile! Susie


Tessa, merci for the pictures that you conveyed through your words today!

Kristi, another great photo! The vines popped out at me in the shape of a heart - perfect for your discussions about your friendships of late.

Your children's talent shines through their paintings. Thanks to them for sharing.


Kristin, Thank you for sharing your special friend Tess with us,your faithful francophile readers. Enjoyed her writing very much. Always look forward to your post, it brightens my days. I live in Indiana & am in process of making my Victorian house as FRENCH as possible. Take care, God Bless, and keep up the Great Writing! We love you!

E. Thai

My first visit here. I thought you write very well for a French (not that they don't, but you know what I mean, and you can say the same thing about me!) Being a foreigner living in America, I totally understand your situation - kids teaching you the language, etc.

Anyway, I've always been in love with France, I don't know why...perhaps it is the language. I married someone from Cambodia; he studied French since he was a kid and finished his high school in Grenoble. We have visited family in Paris several times, but I always wish I had more time to visit places like Provence and Biarritz. Some day...

Fred Caswell

In, viewing the first photo at the top I see and feel an alive bleeding heart, a "hug-circle" clinging to its expression of love with a tenuous yet tenacious link on its right side; and unless colorblind my eyes found the seemingly ubiquitous rouge-bleu.

Hier chez nous le temps nous a donne un jour avec le goute et l'odeur de printemps. Helas! Aujourd'hui il encore neige! -- de matin a minuit.

Perhaps being last, or close to it, in wanting to give you thanks and encouragement, comfort is felt in remembering "He who is last...."


Jan Hersh

Nous sommes tous doues!
I mean to say that we all are gifted by god
We cook, we paint, we write, we dance, we fish with reel and rod
To sit and play with colors and brush
is a gift all souls should savor
What ever you make has no mistake
And is fashioned with your unique flavor

It was a joy to read this today.


Hi Tess,

Thanks for the interesting report of a blissful w/end. You seem to have enjoyed a wonderful 'change of surrounding', doing a lot of chatting and walking with a good old friend, taking time to relax and having such a peaceful time.
So great to get everyone absorbed in creative activities, sharing and passing on -around the kitchen table- the joy of your favourite one -> painting.

Thanks for sharing with us the feeling of bliss (a rare treasure, these days!)


Hi Kristin,

-----> About 'allègre'
The word itself is lively and bouncy, full of joy and dynamism.
Although I can only see the cheerful Tessa 'sitting' at the table, I can imagine her talking and walking 'allégrement' (I love the adverb too and it seems to go very well with these 2 activities).
“Allègre” reminds me of the wonderful Italian tempo markings: Allegro, Allegro vivace, Allegretto, Allegretto grazioso.

and this makes me dream about the Spring Allegro (Vivaldi's four seasons)

-----> About the photo at the top of the newsletter
Congratulations for the well spotted ornemental screening!

The faded 'couleur lie-de-vin' of the 'condemned' door is very appealing. I looked for a description/illustration of that colour, and this is the best I could find:
-> See middle row on the right (the colour of the blob is deeper than the colour of the 'condemned' door) Dimanche 20 avril 2008

In the middle of the photo is your gift to us, taking the shape of ...a heart? Or is it a super necklace? Mille mercis!

The door no longer fulfills its function as a door, but has it really been 'condemned'? Yes and no (condemned for the humans, but open to nature). Thanks to a strip of wood fixed across it and a few U-shaped nails (and fine blue strings) supporting a trailing vine, the old door is happily going through its 'second life'. It has become a colourful screen, helping a trailing vine (passiflora coerula, I think) to grow beyond the yellow wall. Fantastic!

The fruit, like big oval pearls, need time and sunshine to get ripe and transform their greeny yellow into a soft yellowy orange colour.
What a treat! It must also be gorgeous to look at when the 'fleurs de la passion' are at their peak!

Jules Greer

My Darling Newforest -




Eve Robillard

Kristin--Poetry-knowetry; trick or treat--I love it! I also love the artwork. I'm glad you included the "palette"--mine is often more interesting than my art!!! merci, eve


Hi! I was wondering, what fruit is that? I saw the same vine at mont st michel; and I had no idea what it was.


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