grapevines in winter, francee, vineyard, wine, field, provence
Mystery, intrigue... and a flower thief in Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes. Read on. photo © Jules Greer

When my mom, Jules, steps off the plane in France she always feels like she has stepped back in time: into the very footsteps of French soldiers; their traces now obliterated: all that remains is the ghost of war. Regular old vines begin to look like calvary in Mom's artist's mind, ever seeing, ever inspired by another's bravery. Mom took this photo, so fascinated was she by the eerie effect of smoke (the neighbor was burning weeds) wafting through the vineyard. Read on, for more of my mom's impressions, in her letter below.
Today's Word: coupable (coo-pahbl) adjective
    : guilty

noun, masculine: culprit, guilty party

Audio file and example sentence:
Download Coupable wav . Download Coupable mp3
Ma maman commence à se sentir coupable.
My mom is beginning to feel guilty.

For as long as I can get away with it, I will bribe my mom to write this column, via her letters. It gives me time to catch up with all that sprints ahead of me: namely, meal-preparation, dust, and laundry. As for the bribe: Jules likes chocolate and a hot meal--and she's requested one of those fold-out nylon chairs (in which to sit comfortably as she watches her grandchildren at play, whether on the court or in the arena). Mom might also be coerced to continue writing in exchange for one of those Flip cameras -- so that she can start filming this "reality show" that is French Life Unfolding around her. What do you think? Can we trust her with a video camera? Meantime, enjoy her latest letter.

My Darling Kristi,

I am lying on your cot in your office thinking about all I have learned from you  -- just this morning !!!  I am exhausted as I know you are also.  We tend to feed off of each other and then escalate to the point of exhaustion.  As I am resting I sense the wonderful fragrance of lunch being prepared by you below, in your kitchen. You are still working away in that determined manner you have acquired along life's path.  I am feeling a little coupable, trying to justify my couch time against your zeal for order. I think you have inherited this gene from your Darling Dad.

We seem to have activated so many new projects in the past four days -- I think we tend to forget I just arrived last Thursday evening and today is just Sunday morning.  One thing I know for sure -- last September when I visited I tried to teach you the art of delegation - you have become a master of this.  I am now the victim of your new and highly honed skill as I hurriedly list all of the goals that YOU have assigned to me just this morning... as you run around repeating "MANY HANDS MAKE LIGHT WORK!"

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Comment on Mom's letter, or the photos (that's Jules, below, swiping flowers along a route nationale (between Jonquières and Orange). In the second photo she is hurrying to the car after I've ordered her back in a panic -- and just in time for a swift getaway!



Finally, Jean-Marc is in NYC today! It's not too late to join him for this -- or one of his other USA multi-city wine tastings tour! Have a look here for the list of cities where he will pour his wines, including his gold winner "Mistral".

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

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