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French? No, Jane Goodall speaks Chimpanzee!

How serendipitous to write about Jane Goodall--on the 215 anniversary of British paleontologist Mary Anning! Cheers to all the dirt-beneath-their fingernails women who help us understand, appreciate and consciously care for the world we live in. 

Mas la Monaque: rent this beautiful French home

Mas la Monaque - Rent this beautifully restored 17-century farmhouse. Click here for more pictures.

une place (plass)

    : seat

réserver une place = to book a seat

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc Download MP3 or Wav file

    On arrivera un peu en retard : tu nous garderas deux places?
    We'll arrive a little late. Can you hold two seats for us?

See the French man behind these husky sound recordings and read about the job he once offered me, before I corraled him into recording for me! Read First French Essais.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

When Nancy offered to hold a seat for me at the Jane Goodall talk in Aix-en-Provence, I began to stutter (if one can bégayer via email). It was a thoughtful offer from my new friend, but, quickly doing the math, I realized 5 more amies--and my husband--also needed seats! I could not ask Nancy to sprawl out across 7 seats--lounging inconspicuously at a sold-out event (even if I sensed she was gutsy and would probably do it!)

Standing in line with Jean-Marc, a crowd encircling us, I wondered would there be any good spots left? My telephone suddenly rang with the answer! It was my longtime pal Chris. Turns out she was inside the auditorium. She'd already tossed her coat over two seats, suggesting we get to them before she could no longer fend off the crowd!

My savior! So far the night had begun with two assertive women, and now a third was soon to appear--all but beating her chest with her fists!

As the speaker acknowledged her audience, Chris and I looked at each other. We were amazed by Jane Goodall's foreign language greeting--in Chimpanzee! There stood, center stage, a cultural icon--an 80-year-old esteemed scientist--grunting like the "primitive" heroes she had befriended years ago!

The crowd roared as they clapped, delighted by the unusual bonjour. Talk about down-to-earth! Elbowing Chris, I shouted, "That was so cool!"--my own language as simple as uncultured as a chimp's. But who's to say apes are so simple?

For the next hour Jane Goodall talked about our closest relatives: they made and used tools like us, fought like us, loved and empathized like us. Madame Goodall's affection and respect for chimpanzees was palpable, and she couldn't resist holding hands, from time to time, with the dashing chimpanzee seated beside her--a wonderful creation by sculptor Aurélien Raynaud. (Psst! Mom, are you reading? You're going to love this artist's studio! and his statement:

The animal touches what is deepest in us. This is to regain what we have lost, rather than trying to humanize it. Learn to be guided by another form of intelligence and win humility lacking in our civilization. --Aurélien Raynaud (pictured, right, below).

Aurelien Raynaud

For the second half of the two-hour talk, the soft-spoken anthropologist shared her love of plants. And here is where my interest in Jane Goodall began! As a budding gardener with a growing interest in permaculture and food forest design, I came to listen to what Jane Goodall has to say about seeds, "weeds," and trees: the one in danger of disparition, the second often considered a menace (instead of medecine), and the third--well, what would life be like if you couldn't nap beneath an old oak?).

Jane began with a question -- one I had been so curious to know the answer. "Why, you may be asking, would an 80-year-old woman spend 300 days of the year travelling and lecturing? Why wouldn't I just stay at my beloved Gombe (where Jane studied chimpanzees), and continue learning?"

Here we learn that in 1985, during a conference, Jane learned about the shocking conditions of zoo animals. Seeing her friends, the apes, caged, turned Jane the scientist into Jane the Activist!

In addition to being a voice for animals, she speaks out about the environment. Citing the fires in San Diego and the record sècheresse in California, Jane talked about the agricultural practices that were leading to global warming. 

The subject turned dark, but Jane managed to keep things light, using humor and props to keep us encouraged. My favorite prop was one of the stuffed animals that tag along with her during her talks. This one was la vache. (See the little cow in the background, beside the little French girl who presented Jane with a glorious bouquet after the talk).

  Jane Goodall translator cow

 Jane and her translator are charmed by the sweet French girl who offered a bouquet after the talk.

The cow is her spokesperson against factory farming. As she held up her cuddly friend, I slunked down, little by little, in my chair--thinking of my own dear friend, my tireless supporter, the one who gets me out of bed and through the day. Her name? Café-au-lait....

My mind filled with images of factory farmed cows, crammed one against the other. As thoughts began to torture me, an American in the audience spoke up: 

What can we do to help, Jane?

It was such a simple question and Jane, who has the ability to answer questions as fast as they are fired off, didn't disappoint:

Each person can use their skills and abilities to change things!

As Jane's words soaked in, I looked around the auditorium. There was the sculptor, Aurélien, who had devoted his career to representing the voiceless ones... and there was my friend, Chris, who had brought two of her daughters to listen to the environmental talk. And Nancy (who I hoped had found a seat...) was busy photographing what remained of the bees, intent on sharing her findings.

And then there was me. Too chicken to even save a friend a seat! (I thought about my friends Cari and Andrea who were running late to the event.... They finally made it and were perched high above in the rafters. Cari is an artist and Andrea a psychologist--they were bound to incorporate tonight's talk into their work--on canvas and sur le canapé!

This reminded me of my medium--my keyboard! I could get the word out too. Share Jane's message about how if each one of us did even a tiny bit, the result--multipied by billions of earth dwellers--would result in undoing some of the damage we have caused.

"When I see young children today," Jane shared, "I think about the world we have left them to grow up in."  The environmentalist's comment caused my skin to prickle, as I remembered thinking the same when my son was born 19-years-ago....

And that was before we were aware of GMOs.

To respond to this story, click here.

Check out Jane Goodall's latest book Jane Goodall's latest: Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder from the World of Plants. I will announce the winner soon (Sorry I didn't get a signed copy).

Interested in permaculture? Check out this book.


My 19-year-old, Max, helping to buy a grapefruit tree for our permaculture garden. Now, each time Mother's Day, Christmas, my birthday or you-name-it-celebration comes along, I ask for a plant or a tree or seeds :-) To comment on this post, click here.

Provence Dreamin'? Maison des Pelerins, Sablet. A Vacation Rental Dream in the heart of the Côte du Rhone. 

Have you read Chef Alain's award-winning book?: Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food yet? Yum! http://buff.ly/1g5FSrh


Jean-Marc and Kristin Espinasse

Me and my date for the Jane Goodall talk. Photo taken a day before, at a family picnic. Thanks, Cousin Audrey, for the picture. To comment on this edition, go here.

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


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Ellen Fetu

Thank you very much, Kristin, for the post on Jane Goodall. I missed it in Paris at the American Church and now have a better idea of her mission and work. Sounds like it was an inspiring evening!

Wanda Mogzec

What a wonderful lecture, I would have loved to be there and hear her speak. Very inspirational!
I, too, wonder what will happen to our children when we are gone. I have three grown sons and one teen girl. I often worry about the world we are in and how our children and grandchildren will survive. I think we have to keep planting the seeds in our children's minds about things that will affect the future. We have to do now, what we can, no matter how large or small. I love to read your posts, always!



I spend 3-4 months a year here in France (Carpentras) and the difference in the fruits, vegetables grown here GMO free is astounding. They taste like those of my childhood. It concerns me greatly that the EU might let in companies like Monsanto, a horrible horrible institution. I hope to take back seeds for friends in the US who are trying to do their part. And how special to be able to hear Goodall in person! An inspiration to all...

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

It must have been so motivating to see Jane Goodall! And I wonder, when she says, "Each person can use their skills and abilities to change things!" what more specifically, she has in mind. What, after the most obvious environmental practices, can those of us without an attentive audience do? Hope you can give us some ideas!

Jim Burress

My five-month-old granddaughter is named Jane, after Jane Goodall.


Kristin, when you mentioned the factory cows I remembered a youtube video of cows the first time they were out in the pasture, free. Just Google "happy,happy cows" and you should be able to find it. We all need to be thoughtful of our planet and of each other. Good article.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
What a wonderful experience. I love what she said, "Each person can use their skills and abilities to change things". In our family we just try to make our 20 acres at home very bird and bee friendly. We plant native plants, I have 22 Bluebird boxes and now the Bluebirds know to come to our property every spring and the Tree Swallows too. We have 5 bee hives because we were concerned about the declining honey bee population. They have done really well. We don't use any pesticides on the plants and have just installed a small pond. My daughter is vegan and tries to be environmentally involved in her own way. Just do what you can in your own yard, neighborhood, city, state. Thanks for sharing and I love the photo of you and JM!


Good morning Kristin,

Jane Goodall has been a personal hero of mine for many years, since I read "In The Shadow of Man." The quote from Aurélien Raynaud is so incredibly profound. I have printed it to put in my office where I can read it often. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful experience with us. Here in the US the big chemical companies seem to have all the power and continue to change our food supply until it is becoming unrecognizable and causing untold harm which will be revealed in the years to come. We support our local farmers. They provide us with unaltered, clean, healthy food.

I believe that you have found a true passion. It is revealed in every word of this post.


Kristin I didn't want today's blog to end! (Not that I want any day's blog to end). Thank you for helping to spread the Gospel of Jane. I want to echo Cynthia's request for ideas to help the cause for those of us without canvas or keyboard. And, thanks for a recent picture of your handsome son!

Suzanne Codi

Thank you so much for this story, Jane is one of my biggest heroes! ( heroines, sorry!) And you are right that your written word will help spread the sorely lacking awareness of the poor condition of farm animals, apes, elephants, dolphins etc...etc...Even if only a few hundred at a time read you, you have the power to reach so many more people just by word of mouth and parents to children.
You are already making a difference, keep up the good work!!!!

Suzanne Codi

ps Jean-Marc looks like he really slimmed down! And Max looks so grown up !! And you look gorgeous as always...


Skills and abilities can mean something as simple as refusing to buy products that support bad practices. We buy only raw milk from pasture raised cows on a small farm. We grow what we can using heirloom seeds and buy or make nontoxic cleaners, soaps, etc. We support Plant Savers to sustain endangered wild medicinal herbs. It doesn't have to raise a sweat, or be painful.


I enjoyed your post on Jsne Goodall. When I saw your wish to have plants, trees or seeds as a gift for birthday/Mother's Day/you name it celebration, I wanted to share a gift idea that we have followed for years. In Canada it is common practice to give a small gift or loot bag to children who come to your child's birthday party. While some people give small plastic toys - we always give each child a pack of seeds to plant and they love it!


What a wonderful idea to ask for a plant or a tree for Mother's Day! Imagine how much you will enjoy that grapefruit tree!


Nancy S.

Hi Kristi!
I looked for you at the lecture and afterwards in the book-signing line but couldn't find you. We luckily found seats--I didn't expect it to be so crowded. She was wonderful, wasn't she?! I am even more inspired to keep taking photos of bees and co.!


Kristin, what an experience this must have been for you! Jane's stories are incredible and inspiring. Thank you for spreading the word about the issues you mentioned (the health of the bees, factory farming, GMO, etc.) It does feel promising to hear so many people speaking out -- no, shouting from the rooftops -- about these issues.

Nancy Stilwagen

I am very much concerned about the state of our environment, and how big business is very cavalier about abusing it. This coming Saturday, May 24, there will be an international demonstration against Monsanto, one of the biggest purveyors of chemicals into our environment and food chain. I hope you can find an event near you. We all need to raise our voices. http://occupy-monsanto.com/tag/protest/

Janine Cortell

Dear Kristin:
I just finished reading FOODOPOLY by Wenonah Hauter. It is a non fiction book that tells us how several companies have hijacked our food. It is a must read for anyone who cares about the food we ingest each day. Please advertise it to your readers. You have the audience to get the word out. Merci, Janine


Kristi - I totally understand your passion for plants. I have one too! In fact, I have a small success to share with you that may put you on the trail to another favorite. Two years ago, I read about a miraculous plant that has several colors of flower on the same plant - as the flower matures, its color changes -- pink, orange, mauve, purple - one plant of many colors because the buds all come out at different times. I have been searching for this plant for two years now, calling all the local nurseries, trying to find it online and agreeing to pay a ridiculous price, then being told they cannot ship to my area. You get the idea - it has become a quest - one that I thought was doomed forever - so many dead ends! But, there is a happy ending and it is today! There will be two of these plants delivered in the mail special order on EBay from Florida to Idaho this very day that you write about plants for Mother's Day - can't wait for the mail! The rush shipping is twice the price of the plant, but at this point I don't care! Ever since I ordered, I have been trying to decide the exact perfect location for my new boarders. So here is my Mother's Day gift to you all. The plant is Wallflower (Erysimum) Jenny Brook is the first variety I heard of. I just found Winter Orchid --much more bold colors (and they claim has a bonus of being intensely fragrant.) Google them and you will be hooked. Let your quest begin! Happy Mother's Day!

judi dunn

.. Dear Kristin... Jane has long been a heroine of mine!
She is an amazing woman and now a spokeswoman for the benefits of natural foods, and homeopathic remedies...BRAVO! Monsanto and the other GMO monsters are slowly poisoning us on this planet, so we must do as you say, plant seeds of our own and be aware of our own carbon footprint. It is all we can do. I will end by saying your son, Max, should think of becoming a film star, as he certainly has the looks for it. You are blessed with a completely handsome family! bon weekend..... Judi in Tallahassee, Fl.

Mike Weddle

Hi Kristin,
Thank you so much for your post every day, but especially the post about Dr. Jane. I am a teacher in Oregon and have been working with Jane Goodall since 1995 through her program Roots & Shoots. She is indeed an amazing person and has been an inspiration to all my students for years. In fact, along with several other teachers, we started the Jane Goodall Environmental Middle School, a public charter school in Salem focusing on environmental science. What an amazing model for my students. Thanks again for your post.

Cynthia Lewis

Kristin, thank you for this wonderful and exciting post! You always find the way to share your experiences with great pictures and descriptions. Again, thank you so much.

edie schmidt


You are lucky to have had a chance to hear Jane Goodall speak. I'm sure it was a wonderful talk!
Here are a couple of my favorite books about humans and nature:
"The Botany of Desire" by Michael Pollan and "The Control of Nature" by John McPhee.
Are you familiar with these authors too?
Thanks for sharing,

Edie from Savannah


Our dear Kristi,
I knew Jane's lecture was going to be wonderful and we thank you so much for sharing it with us!
We can learn such an incredible amount,such inspiration from her!
You are definitely following her advice;now I only hope to do the same!
Natalia XO


I wonder if Dr. Jane is good friends with the
chimp who bit that poor woman's face and
hands off . I had to say that just to put
things in the proper perspective . Also, lets
not forget Dr. that fires have been burning
is southern Ca. for EVER ! Another douse of
reality for you folks .
They [ chimps ] are wild animals Kristi not
cute furry imps .
Napa Valley

Patricia Sands

It's obvious Jane's words inspired you, Kristin, and you in turn are inspiring us by sharing them here. Your request for plants or seeds on special gift occasions is a fabulous decision and one that offers the giver as much pleasure as the receiver! Carry on and urge the rest of us to do so as well. Together we are strong!



I am so proud of you and your writing ability to share your adventure with all of us here who joyfully await each of your posts. I´m going to gather seed packages from Mexico, get ready for some hot peppers.

I loved every word you wrote today…each word so well thoughtout, you are becoming the writer I have always dreamed of becoming. You have truly found your place in this world Honey. I eagerly await each new door you open.

Of course I am smitten with your new ártist´- hope we can visit his studio.




Love, love, love this blog and especially A. Raynaud's statement. When we are too unconscious of our own beginnings and what continues as part of our psyche, it turns against us and becomes destructive to others and, indeed, to life itself.
Love idea of planting/sharing seeds, plants for holidays, birthdays, etc, to include celebration of world wide Earth Day!
Totally agree with mom on this blog!


I'm sorry, but you ruined an excellent column about Jane Goodall with your comment on GMOs. Many scientific studies have shown that GMOs are not harmful. You and all of us have been using GMOs for many years. Please do not continue to scare people with false comments about GMOs.

Lucia Shaeffer

Hello Kristin,

Eu sou do Brasil tambem!! I loved Jean Marc's Brazilian T-shirt, saying: I am from Brasil. Any time you want to visit Brazil, I can hook you up with great people.

that's again for another great topic. What a talent you have. Reading your work is just like having you, right in front of me telling me the story. What a joy!

Lucia Shaeffer

Sorry, I should have proof read. I meant to say thanks again for another great topic.

Cate Salenger

How wonderful! I love that woman and all she does.

june furey

Kristin, how I envied your experience being able to attend Jane Goodall's lecture. I am so thrilled you passed on her wisdom and enthusiasm for us all to absorb. Regarding tree planting, I have requested in my will for my 6 children to each plant a tree in memory of me when I am no longer in this life.
It has been a passion of mine during my adult life to plant even just one tree wherever I have lived, (it has been many places) Friends would say but you will be moving on and wont be able to enjoy them, but my answer was but its there for someone else, and given back new life. Being in the southern hemisphere, we are aware of how many introduced trees were brought by the settlers from the northern hemisphere, many times to the detriment of the indigenous plants, so its an immense project now and the years to come to re-establish the original bush and forests. I am so pleased you have shared this post. June Gold Coast Qld

Leslie in Oregon

Thank you for briefing us on Ms. Goodall's lecture. She puts the most important of issues before us and is a true hero.

Chris Allin

We each have our personal heroes, through inspiration, education and hope. Oh, how they enrich our lives~.(

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Bonjour Kristin,

Thanks for the fabulous photos and post. How exciting to hear Ms. Goodall. I do agree -- we all have to do something. I joined Mercy for Animals and I stopped eating meat. I honestly do not think the taste of meat is worth all the pain & suffering the animals incur.

It has been 5 years since I haven't eaten meat --- and I do not miss it at all.

Thanks again!

Georgia from Northern CA

Thanks for this wonderful post! I hope Jane Goodall lives another 80 years plus! She sounds like she did when I saw her about 10 years ago! Inspiring!

Linda C.

Wow, Jane Goodall! Never shy away from your enthusiasms and from writing about what you believe in! Your Word-a-Day, as always, helps make my day!

Linda C.

Wow, Jane Goodall! Never shy away from your enthusiasms and from writing about what you believe in! Your Word-a-Day, as always, helps make my day!

Fred Caswell

Long have I admired this amazing, uniquely talented soul. I have supported her over the years with meager donations and sharing some of her publication with people who seemed to me to have open minds and hearts. We have been treated to have a tuxedo cat with stunning markings who posses all the independence of his fellow felines. We enjoy his suppleness and his response to our love, particularly to and from Nancy who taught me how a special affection can develop with who knows how many different animals, our cousins. I swear he talks to us in a few ways and we understand him. We love our Finny as you do Braize and Smokey. Comme toujours!

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