Poisson d'Avril - April Fool's Day in France & Paper Fish Tradition


"Leaves of Grass" (c) Kristin Espinasse
A veritable "Lawn Chair". You know you have work to do in the garden... when the grass grows high enough to tickle your lazy butt into gear! Read on.

semer (seuh may) verb

    1. to sow

Audio File: hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French word "semer", along with its conjugation and the example sentence, just below. Download MP3 or Wav file

Verb conjugation: je sème, tu sèmes, il/elle sème, nous semons, vous semez, ils/elles sèment (pp = semé)

L'amour est comme une plante: il faut le semer et il poussera.
Love is like a plant: you need to sow it and it will grow. Chow Ching Lie

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

"Altruism in the garden"

The Dirt Divas came over on Friday and I am sad to say that this is the last we will hear of them... for dorénavant they will be known as Garden Divas!

After receiving a few letters from the UK—in reference to "dirt"—it began to dawn on me that dirt is something you wash off and not, as we hicks know, an affectionate term for soil. (Truth-be-told "soil" kind of creeps me out, ever since the movie "Soilent Soylent Green"—soil/soilent soylent...) Thank you, English (as distinguished from North American) readers, for the suggestion to use "earth" in the place of "dirt" when talking about soil. I will try to remember that. And, hereafter, we'll call the earth angels in question "Garden Divas".    

But back to our story. The Garden Divas showed up, opened the car's trunk and bada bing bada boom! what did they produce? Another carload of future blooms!

Next, the Dirt, or Garden, Divas quickly went into action lugging a motley crew of plants to the nearest shady spot. Any and all sorts of containers were used: there were buckets, cardboard boxes, wooden crates, and pots in tin and terra-cotta! The divas' no-fuss flower-farming was a lesson in itself (I'll never forget a previous "delivery" in which the baby plants arrived... in plastic yogurt cups! I guessed at the Divas' no-fuss philosophy: "If it's sturdy and you can poke holes in it, then you're good to go!")

After several aller-retours to the car and back to the shady spot, the Garden Divas went to work using their own tools to "crack" the cement-like earth that is our flower bed... and by the end of the afternoon bada bing bada boom!, the beds were looking very nearly groomed!

I noticed the Divas' discretion in overlooking those plants that had withered and died since their previous visit.... The frost accounted for one or two of the potted plants (it had been suggested to me that they come inside for winter)... the remaining losses were the result of precarious planting (on my part).  

Watching the Garden Divas toil, I had that humbling feeling, the kind you get when witnessing others give "without strings": they help, asking nothing in return, they reach out... and we mortals eventually learn.  

After the Garden Divas left, I remained outside until sundown, tossing California poppy seeds and wondering about that altruistic "do unto others" mystery: doing, giving, helping, smiling, encouraging, nourishing... flourishing!

I told the Garden Divas that I did not know how to thank them. Mais, il n'y a pas de quoi! Their reward, they said, will be in watching my garden grow.

The next day, while out planting more of the seedlings, I caught myself daydreaming. In my mind's eye, I was taking a motley crew of potted plants that I'd grown from seed... to a friend in need. That is when the full meaning of the Garden Divas "reward" revealed itself to me.

Le Coin Commentaires
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French Vocabulary

dorénavant = from now on
aller-retour = round trip
Mais, il n'y a pas de quoi! = why, it's nothing! 


Merci encore to Malou and Doreen, the Garden Divas. Read another garden story, click here.

Kissing Bench In garden seating: The French Kissing bench! Click here for more info.

Bestselling books on the French language:
 1. The Ultimate French Verb Review and Practice  
 2. Exercises in French Phonics

Not so best-selling... but a fun book on the French language!
Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France 


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angela billows

Its definitely that time of year....was myself potting plants and cleaning la Terrace this weekend....


Love the lack of depth in the photo and its accompanying charming story. Looking forward to photos of the future blooms!


You've inspired me to think about the garden...seems like it was just snowing a couple of weeks ago!


One - Two - Three

I saw the Lawn Chair - Love at first sight! I wondered whether this photo was taken at this time of the year. Is your grass already that high???

I read the first 2 lines of this newsletter. Kristin, I must say, frankly and happily:
---> "j'approuve mille fois" your decision to abandon the word "dirt" when talking about these lovely ladies helping you out with your garden. They are EARTH GODDESSES, EARTH ANGELS - not 'Divas' - and they handle your 'soil', not your 'dirt' - I know, there was that "D" for Diva and Dirt that attracted you so much, but "dorénavant", dear Malou and Doreen, the doubtful "appellation" has gone. I'm so pleased.

I jumped to the photo under the newsletter. The daffodils / narcissus brought a radiant smile to my face. Even if I read "Dirt Divas" under the photo, my brain reads "earth", I have vision of plants and flowers brought by you, Doreen and Malou, busy working in Kristin's garden. For me, you are two angels, or two goddesses (a lovely choice!)
The white narcissus in the middle, with its delicate copper-pink band, looks like a "rainbow daffodil". Mine are not in bloom yet (best daffodils at the moment on my lawn are "ice follies" and "fortune")

and now,
I just finished my 'elevenses' (= British way to call your 'coffee and biscuit' taken in the middle of the morning). I should go and do lots of things indoors and outdoors, so, although tempted to read the story of the day, I'll switch off my laptop.

Looking forward to sit again in our friendly corner later this evening.
Bye for now and wishing everyone a great day.

Karen W  (Towson, Maryland)

Bonjour, Kristin. I lOVE that beginning photo. It's so soft and inviting. Sorry to see the cute title of Dirt Divas leave us. To me. it made them seem more animated. Garden Divas? hmmm. (not sure we're done here yet). I like Earth Angels!

I'm wondering what your soil is like there. Besides being cement-like, that is.

Newforest: "elevenses"? How do you pronounce that. Like a plural "11"?


Personally, I find nothing offensive about the word 'dirt'. Anyone who gardens (flowers and/or veggies) usually does so because they truly enjoy sinking their hands in ... yes 'dirt!' I love your emails/website. Keep up the good work. And I have purchased a number of items that you have posted on your site. Thanks - Ray. Here is one of my favorite quotes? Margaret Atwood (Canadian author) - “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”


why the little tale in English and not French?ckirko


Just reading your post of today makes me feel the interconnectedness (long word!) of us all-it seems that I am reaping the blessing of their sowing --your words are their flowers. Have a great week. Mary


Hi Kristin,
I, too, find nothing offensive about "dirt divas"...There's a hugely poplar extreme running event in our area called Dances With Dirt. I think there are times for all of your expressions, and dirt divas expresses your hospitality, I think, and your heart-felt affection for your friends.


Here's a good way to thank the divas: next winter take the plants indoors as suggested.

Marianne Rankin

It has been unseasonably cold here (D.C. suburbs), and extremely windy, along with lots of rain. This will eventually be good for plants, but it's not conducive to much yard work. I am really ready to get outside and put flowers into the ground.

I could use the Garden Divas' help with my side yard, which in the summer resembles a moonscape. It's a slope, and dries out very quickly, no matter how much rain we have. I intend to put in a wildflower garden, but would like to have more than crabgrass on the rest of it.

Yes, passing along either plants or cut flowers from the "Diva Garden" would be a good way to share what the Divas have shared with you.

Lawrence J. Krakauer

Regarding the word of the day: many of your readers probably have translation dictionaries by Larousse. Look at the logo on their web page, upper-left, showing a woman blowing away the seeds of a dandelion puff:


The motto that goes with this image is "Je sème à tout vent" ("I sow at every wind").

By the way, "dandelion" comes from "dent de lion", lion's tooth, for the ragged edges of their leaves. And they are commonly called "pissenlit", for the diuretic properties of those same leaves when used in a salad.

Frank Levin

Please tell the Garden Divas that we have a fully equipped guest room here in Oregon. It has a view of the garden and is only two minutes from the nursery. They can come any time. Perhaps they have some American cousins.

Margaret Dennis

I agree with newforest. I am in love with the chair. I want to sit in it. I want to sleep in it. What a place to dream.

Spring has started in NC but I am reminded that it is not "safe" to plant too much until after Mother's Day in case of a late cold snap. But I am so enjoying watching the almost forgotten perinneals waking up in the back beds and containers. They are always a bit of a surprise and always a joy.

The hard, hard, red clay of NC makes it difficult to plant in the ground so I often do container gardens which in the end is easier on the back. I like touching them like they are pets. I always count the bulbs as they appear - one tulip, three tulips.

Ah spring. Enjoy.

Margaret in Durham, NC where the air is filled with the scent of wisteria.


I am happy that your frightening threat last Friday was only an April Fool's joke. Please don't scare me like that! I held my breath all weekend (metaphorically speaking) to see if there would be a post this morning. I am glad to see FWAD back in my virtual mailbox. I admire your dedication to posting 3x a week with all the other things going on in your life! Merci beaucoup!

Jules Greer

My heart skipped a beat when I saw the photo of MY CHAIR!!! Of course I know it is your chair, but the chair in the photo is MINE. I remember
dragging it down the narrow path to what we know as 'Your First Garden". The little patch of earth you had designated as your first garden.

Actually right at this moment I am feeling little pulls in my throat when I think back to all of the time you put into just making the decision to have a garden.

The many restless moments of your little heart wondering over and over, 'Is this too big a leap for this little frog'. You were always playing with the idea in your mind,hinting to your friends on FWAD, calling me on the phone, on and on your fear of stepping out into this daunting field kept you from learning the joy of what it is really like to 'get your hands into that dirt'.

This is what I love about FWAD and expecially "Le Coin Commentaires" - the thought that we are able to help each other to grow from dirt to earth and beyond brings me so much joy. Of course we are your garden Kristi - watered by you three times a week - out here blooming away where we have been planted. Life is such a garden.

If the truth be told, you and I were both affected by one of our favorite little books "FRENCH DIRT" --
I think that's where you really picked up the association.

*** A little note to all of our friends - each time you surf Amazon, maybe buy a product, if you enter their site from Kristi's blog YOU ARE PLANTING A SEED that will somehow make Kristi's little money-bag increase and bloom.

Back to the photo of MY CHAIR. I am sure you wandered down there one morning last summer when the grass was high and cried tears that your sweet and loving, wonderful MOM was not sitting in that chair that morning because you were such a 'brat' the summer before when you told all of your friends that SHE CRASHED YOUR COMPUTER, BROKE THE FANCY LENS ON YOUR CAMERA, AND LAID AROUND ALL DAY WINING FOR MORE FOOD.

You have suffered enough - I hear an old dormant seed is coming back to life in your garden soon.



Jackson Dunes, Pug At The Beach

I love the photo of the chair. The colors of grass and chair play off one another so well. And that grass looks so soft and inviting, much different than the grass we have here in south Florida.

Jackson Dunes
Pug At The Beach
Delray Beach, Florida, USA

Fred Caswell

Dear Kristi, it has been a joy to watch another beautiful flower grow and continue to grow -- un ecrivan qui s'appelle Kristi! Il y avais mon plaisir, de temps en temps, arroser l'ame de cette amie avec mes mots de mon coeur. Affectueusement, Peace

Herm in Phoenix, Az

Salut Kristin,

Je vous souhaite bonne chance avec votre jardin!

With the temperature in the upper 90’s last week, our garden season is fading fast. Our patio was lined with beautiful flowers all winter and was very enjoyable. Now, our desert wildflowers are about gone, the brief spring greens on the desert floor have turned to brown and the cactus are starting to bloom.

It’s different here in Phoenix where shortly the temperature will soon be in the 105 to 115 degree range and stay that way for the until fall. One flower that can survive the heat is the Vinca variety. Vegetable gardens are planted in the fall here. Tomatoes are planted in January. The squash and eggplant families do well here in the summer.

À bientôt

Janine Cortell

A number of years ago I read a most delightful book called FRENCH DIRT by Richard Goodman. If you love gardening and you love France, this is a must read.
Janine Cortell

Joy Eballar

HI Kristen!!
My oh my how some people do take themselves WAAAAY too seriously!(misspelled (way) on purpose to make a point to all the fussy ones out there.)I love the charm and realness of you, your words and everything involved with your beautiful blog. You can use S*** for all I care, it is the stories you tell and the way you tell them that has kept me coming back for more year after year.
The best ones are about your family members, home, life and people you know, dirt and all.
Now I'm at work, but I am ever so anxious to go home, to my backyard and play in the dirt, planting my spring flowers. Love to you Kristen!!

Joy Eballar

PS: Just saw your mom's comment. I think I love her!! She is great. Love your stories about her too and how the two of you love each other. My mom passed away about 18 mos ago and so it is really sweet to read the stories about the two of you and her posts expressing so much love for you!! xoxo bye again!! :) joy


I have no problem with the word dirt. Soil is technical, dirt has passion....yes, passion!
That field looks sort of like my tiny back yard.....it looks like a meadow....knee high grass, wild onions, oxallis and this was once a planted lawn!
The poppies have just started here in Carmel Valley....and there is a field that looks like it is going to be a carpet of gold. So take those poppy seeds you have and toss them to the wind to "semer" in your meadow!

Gwyn Ganjeau

Kristin, that photo catapulted me back to summer as a teenager and floating deliciously on an air mattress on a huge lake. Different time, different place, different time of life--but the same feeling. Air mattresses and lawn chairs--magic carpets of sorts, no? Yum.

And thank you for being the Janey Appleseed of growing French vocabularies!! :)


How I wish Garden divas were my neighbors! I have "red thumb", nothing grows when I touch it. I have bought, pot after pot of different types of flowers and they all died. I thought I had given them tender loving care...with my daily watering.
I have now resigned to the fact that le jardinage n'est pas pour moi. Mais je rêve toujours encore de pouvoir le faire...un de ces beaux jours, peut-être.
Salut Kristin et un petit bonjour à ta charmante maman.

Bob and Angela

Hi Kristin~

We side with those who have absolutely no problem with the word dirt. We had a friend many years ago who would comment that something tasted or smelled like dirt, meaning it had a rich earthy primal flavor or aroma (like a truffle, for example). To this day, we immediately notice when something tastes like dirt -- tastes like earth or soil just wouldn't do it!

By the way, our May issue of the magazine FRANCE (billed as North America's best-selling magazine about France) arrived just the other day. On page 80, in a sidebar item titled "The Good Life", is a description of you, your blog, and your family. Hopefully it will result in more readers and, no doubt, more people who would love to move to France.

Remaining among the latter,
Bob and Angela


Salut Kristin!

J'espere que tu passais une bonne journee. Merci pour la belle photo, je l'adore et je voudrais m'asseoir (spelling?) dans cette belle chaise et jamais me lever! Thanks for your great little story about the Garden Divas. They seem so charming and I would love for them to surprise me at my house. You're very blessed to know them.
I agree with you Jules that Kristi helps to keep us "watered" and thriving each time she writes this blog. I couldn't have survived the past few years without her stories. No matter how difficult life is, I always say to myself, "There's always Provence" and I feel like life is okay and I can continue to live and dream of better days.
Merci encore Kristin et a bientot!


More garden pictures, s.v.p! Your own garden divas. Lucky girl!

gail bingenheimer

Le paysage s'est révélé aussi beau que je m'y attendais.
The landscape turned out to be as beautiful as I had expected.

Jacqueline Gill

Today's pictures are a real joy--love them! Guess I'm not feeling teribly politically correct today or something, but I think the word "dirt" is just the best! Forget about subtle meanings --anyone who loves digging in the---dirt! will identify with the name Dirt Divas. I've been playing , planting, harvesting in dirt since a kid and will continue to enjoy dirt on my hands for as long as I can--came from a long line of dirt diggers! Have fun! God bless-

Jacqueline (Brisbane)

Loooove Dances wirh Dirt, sgparcheta!
And Kristin, please don't ditch the delightful term Dirt Divas. Divine Dirt Divas, for truly, it is godly to toil with soil and deal with dirt. :)
It is such a great term that I was toying with "passing it on" to our Flood Garden Recovery group volunteers here in SE Queensland where metres of water in the January floods killed entire gardens (not to mention the houses in them).

Pat Cargill

Lovely photos today, Kristin - I relate to the seemingly "daunting-ness" of gardening for beginners. It is all so mysterious! I felt that way 20 years ago when I first began working in my yard.

The joy like most of life, is in the doing, learning little by little each year so that one day, you wake up and you are puttering around in your garden beds, moving things around, sharing the bounty w/others and thinking nothing of it, save for the delight and pleasure those hours bring. I am a bonafide "dirt-dauber," a happy pig-in-slop kinda gardener, getting filthy and sweaty and loving every bit of it. I understand there are people who do not, seriously, like it, it is "work" and no pleasure.

Happily for you your Earth Angels have given you a great boost in your gardening and even if we do lose a few plants along the way, the beauty of the relationship is intact and "growin' like a weed." Gardeners love to share their plants and expertise. It is a deep, earthy, loamy bond! (Oh my, I do wax romantic on this topic!)

Cheers to good times w/Mother Earth.


Love the picture of the chair in the grass!!!


Love the picture of the chair in grass - what would a person sitting there see? The possibilities are endless.

Jan Leishman

How lucky to live in Australia - dirt, earth, soil - we pick and choose as we like. I was brought up with an 'English' education, so it was 'earth', but now with so many American books, tv, expressions, 'dirt' is just as acceptable . . . and it makes for good alliteration!

Karen from Phoenix, AZ

Janine and Jules, Loved French Dirt also. Wonderful book. I love to work in the dirt myself, but as Herm says it it only for a little while
we can do that here in Phoenix.

Thanks for the relaxing picture Kristin. To sit in the middle of a garden is a dream. xoxo


Perhaps your Garden Divas could be called
Les Fleurs Femmes. And you La Fleur Femme Fatale since you manage to shorten the lives of some of your plants.


Dear Malou and Doreen,
Would you recognise yourself in the description given in this link? I don't. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diva

You understand and love Mother Earth and you are true gardeners, dealing with soil, plants (and people) with respect, generosity and good humour!
Hard work indeed to "crack" the cement-like earth and prepare it to become, one day, a bright and colourful flower bed giving joy to everyone!
You give your time, your plants and your expertise... "le plus naturellement du monde"... ( 'quite naturally'). Are you fully aware that beyond digging the soil and planting lots of seedlings, you are sowing the very seeds of generosity, beauty and love? and I should also add "patience et espérance"!

Kristin, The verb "semer" made me think of the one who sows -> "le semeur"... The very word "semeur" reminded me of "Le geste auguste du semeur" described by Victor Hugo, and so realistically painted by Jean-Francois Millet and Vincent Van Gogh.
I want to thank you for the great time I had looking at their paintings on Google before typing my post.

Jules, How wonderful to share 'your' "Lawn chair"!
Yes, Life is a Garden...

Karen, You wanted to know how to pronounce 'elevenses'. No problem with 'eleven'. As for 'ses', it is to be pronounced in the same way as you pronounce 'sis' in the word 'basis'

Pat, I am not a 'born gardener'. I keep learning and thoroughly enjoy the whole process as I go along (and that includes sweating, sitting down to rest my back and dreaming in between stretches of hard work etc). At the moment, I have quite a few things to 'move around' and it will take a while for the visions to materalize.

Moody sky here today!

Ophelia in Nashville

I,too, love the photo of the chair -- its contemplative tone and the beautiful shade of green. Unfortunately, because I live in Tennessee, when I imagine actually sitting in it, all I can think about is the reality of chigger bites. Maybe that's another reason I like going to France.

And I like both the words "earth" and "dirt." There is something gritty and earthy? and real about "dirt." And "earth" suggests somehow a connection with the whole of Creation itself.

Kristin -- I saw the movie Soylent Green years ago, too, and have never forgotten it. Terrifying....

Lisa A., CA

Bonjour Kristin!

Your story about your garden couldn't have come at a more perfect time...it's just lovely. I love the French Kissing bench on your page! How cute!

I spent yesterday in my backyard surrounded by all my beautiful flowers I planted and doing a ton of French homework. My teacher said, "she is teaching us the "French Way" of learning" (she is from Togo)...my fingers were killing me by the time I was done writing sentences...But, my flowers were keeping me company! So, the day was good... :) Bonne chance avec votre jarden!!

Pat Cargill

Joy, I loved what you said. I say get down and dirty! ha ha ha

Also speeking of seed, perhaps the word "semen" as in "seed" of the male species, also derives from the origins of today's word, semer. Biensur! Enough said about that. Back to my plants. Oh, I think I have a headache!

Stacy, Applegate, Oregon

I just love your Lawn Chair photo...a dreamy setting! I could sit there all day today.

I’m delighted that the Dirt Divas (as I prefer) have returned to share their knowledge and joy with you! I’ve lived on this farm for thirteen years and it’s been trial and error (mostly error with so many plants lost in despair) making flower beds where once was none. Also, learning which plants can endure our summer’s unrelenting sun. Finally, I can happily say the beds are taking shape and plants are taking root!

So funny your reference to Soylent Green, my boyfriend got the idea just recently we needed to watch it. I could have gone the rest of my life without seeing it!

"Happiness? The color of it must be spring green...."
- Frances Mayes, American memoirist

Happy Spring !!!

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