la grippe porcine


A breakthrough in the garden in today's story column.

creuser (kreuh-zay) verb

    : to dig; to hollow out, to make a hole in; to sink, bore, cut, plow, drill

Audio file: listen to Jean-Marc conjugated the verb creuser:  
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je creuse, tu creuses, il creuse, nous creusons, vous creusez, ils creusent (pp: creusé)

creuser sa propre tombe = to dig one's own grave
une idée à creuser = something worth pursuing

A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse

I am a slow learner, in many respects, and this may be why it took me so long to begin to know how to garden: truth is, it wasn't until my forty-first year that I learned how to make a dent in the earth.

After failing the first time around, le jardinage, like math, put me off for some time. That's because I had not made a simple, first-things-first connection: behind every juicy tomato, behind every towering tournesol,* is a gardener who knows how to haul!

Haul dirt, that is, out of the ground. I'd quickly given up on digging once I discovered that our front yard was made of concrete.
"Ceci n'est pas du béton," this is not concrete, my husband pointed out as I stabbed at the ground, trying to turn it over in time to tuck in a tulip bulb. 
"La terre est sèche," the ground, there, is dry, Jean-Marc explained offering what would be the golden gardening rule:

Ajouter de l'eau. (Just add water.)

I guess I'd rather do things my own, more scientific, way.  My husband's way, with his elementary water puddles that preceded those dug holes, seemed slapjack, slapstick, or simply slapped together -- as if he were making up the rules along the way. Besides, what a mess!  All that sloshing and slopping around. Leave it to him to make mud pies, not me, I would make artifacts out of my carefully "creused" corner: I'd dig like a pro.

Off I'd trot  to creuser* a calculated hole somewhere else, away from all that splashing, all that muddiness.  And dig I did -- as one chisels stone, or drills pavement.

"I hate this! I hate gardening! I hate it, I hate it, I hate it! " I'd end up lamenting. Stupid, dumb, idiotic tulips! Only, I hadn't yet figured out that none of this was the fault of the flower bulbs.

* * *

I am a slow learner and so it is no surprise that it took two years for the golden gardening rule to sink in.

"Ajouter de l'eau. Just add water".

A couple of seed packets in my hand, I stared at the ground below: parched, unpoundable. A certain concept returned to me, along with the image of my husband and his mud pie maneuvering. Only those weren't pies he was pushing around. With basic common sense (just add water... let the earth rest, then dig in!), the "concrete" earth was putty in his hands: now tame, now tender, soft enough to shovel. 

* * *

It is the first week of May and I've dug enough holes to host a colorful cast of characters out in my potager.* There are over a dozen tournesols (I've since learned to dig a trench!), seven tomato plants, four pepper plants, two aubergines,* two courgettes,* verbena for tea, and strawberries.  

I have learned that planting is easy, it is reckoning with a rock-hard patch of earth (whether on the ground... or in one's stubborn spirit) that's tricky. Thankfully, I've begun to grasp a few astuces* along the way: to dig when the earth is soft, for example, after a rainstorm, and to profiter* from a light pluie.* More importantly, I no longer need to dig like a doctorate (no more calculating, no more "scientific" shoveling), though I do enjoy making a mud pie or two, and find it softens the heart just as water softens soil.

*     *     *
Comments, corrections--and stories of your own--are always helpful and appreciated. Thank you for reading my stories. Please know that I enjoy reading yours, too, in the comments box.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
le jardinage (m)
= gardening; le tournesol (m) = sunflower; creuser = to dig; le potager (m) = kitchen or vegetable garden; une aubergine (f) = eggplant; la courgette (f) = zucchini; une astuce (f) = trick (tip); profiter = to take advantage of (opportunity); la pluie (f) = rain

You know you've caught the gardening bug when your upended front gate begins to look like a good place to tie up tomatoes! (Do you see the shadow of my son's basketball hoop, just above my head? Maybe I can tie a string to that, too, and send sweet peas climbing sky high!) Photo by Jules Greer.

Listen to French!
I leave you with a "creuser" video. (I have reserved another fun find for you in this Saturday's Cinéma Vérité. Don't miss it, along with the latest batch of photos taken in Visan!)

Three Random Words:
le quatre-épices = allspice
râlant,e = infuriating
la variole (f) = smallpox

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

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