6 Little-known tips to successfully learn French

fils + book giveaway + your own personal talent


Happy Birthday Max. We watered you. You watered the vines. And everything just grew.


 MAS DE LA PERDRIX. Lovely months to rent this home France: July, for fields of sunflowers & lavender. September, for the grape harvest! October: fall leaves. The exchange rate is great. It's a wonderful time to rent this dreamhouse.


fils (feece) noun, masculine

    : son

C'est bien le fils de son père = he is very much his father's son
être le fils de ses oeuvres = to be a self-made man
le Fils de l'homme/de Dieu = the Son of man/of God
le fils âiné, cadet = the older/younger brother
tel père, tel fils = like father, like son

AUDIO FILE: in today's sound file, we hear a 10-year-old Max read a moving poem in French. Listen to it here Download MP3  and then check the words here, in this post.

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

Carry a child and one day he'll carry you

In the geography of child-rearing, there are sacred endroits, or turning points, before which a parent stops, shakes her head, and wipes her teary mirettes. Much as a cartographer does, she will, there on the map of her rugged heart, carefully pencil in these notable landmarks. 

Before our first child was born, I was given one of those "baby memory books". It was sealed with a ribbon and, inside, apart from the journal lines, it had a place in which one could paste the baby photos. Though I had the best intentions, I have always felt terribly guilty for not keeping up with the record books, by noting down every "first" in the life of my children. 

Çela dit, I did have the time to note a few pre-birth impressions, before all that "journaling momentum" that I'd built up flew out the door the moment our fils was born. After that earth-stopping event, it was all I could do to keep track of feedings, diaper changings, and hormones raging (my own; baby blues?).

But a recent "first step" of our son's is something I hope never to forget. Unlike a first tooth, the experience has been a near mystical moment. Indulge me now, will you, as I take up space in this public journal to sketch in an uplifting instant.

June 26, 2011 :  Max, 16 years and 41 days old. On this otherwise ordinary summer evening... our son reached down, picked up his mother and carried her off!

As go mystical moments, everything around the event is either dulled (in comparison) and forgotten, or--quite the opposite--everything around the event is crystal clear! My experience was twofold:

Forgotten were all those "unimportants". I remember walking into Max's room that night. In robot mode, I had been going down my bedtime list: "Max, don't forget to pick up these clothes off the floor. Open your window for some fresh air! Remember to take your asthma and allergy meds. And I know school's out - but don't stay up too late!" With that, I set down my laundry basket, threw out my arms and waited for my favorite moment: le câlin, or hug. It was the only natural, non-automated part of the "tuck-in" schedule.

I still don't know what bit him, but I noticed a magical smile on my son's face as he turned away from his computer. Max's sourire grew and grew until he seemed possessed...  possessed by happiness! In his holey socks, he slid across the wooden floor, over to the door, pulled me into the room.... and swept me off the floor!

Crystal clear now, were the events I'd mourned (having never noted them down): first tooth, first step, first chagrin! The first time he ran away... his first girlfriend!

There stood my son and, with one strong arm beneath my back and the other beneath my dangling legs, I was suspended in midair, held secure in the arms of my firstborn. 

I shrieked as Max began to turn... and spin with me! We twirled round and round, stopping to gasp for air after so much laughter. I could not believe my own son could now carry me! As if sensing my doubt, Max tightened his hold, swooping me up higher and higher! How to describe the experience of that moment when the one you once held up... is now holding you! I felt like a child in my own son's arms, there was that warmth and security, there was that sacred glimpse of eternity!

As we spun round the room, breathless and laughing, all those moments I had failed to record in the baby memory book came back to me. Our son's first swim... his first solo bike ride... his first time behind the wheel, as driver! The privilege was now mine--to review these events, in my son's arms, whirling, literally, with the moment! 

I know it was indulgent, this sudden role reversal, but I enjoyed every second. And, looking up into my boy's starry eyes, more than his weary mother, I was a newborn, cherished and adored. Witnessing the reflection in my son's dazzling eyes, I might have even been his prize.

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French Vocabulary

un endroit = place

les mirettes (f,pl) = eyes, peepers

Çela dit = that being said

le fils = son

le câlin = cuddle, hug

le sourire = smile


That photo again, because...

The photo above this one was taken when Max was 12 years old. He turned 20 yesterday, and helped plant this vineyard a few weeks ago.

SABLET HOME for high quality vacation rentals in the heart of Provence. Particularly suited to groups of up to four discerning travelers.


 Smokey's favorite reads

Enter to win a copy of Jackie Mancuso's latest books, Paris-Chien and her newly-released Hudson in Provence, in which this lovable pooch quits trying to imitate the other dogs around him, in time to discover what his own talent is.

To enter today's drawing simply tell us what your talent is.  Did you ever try to imitate somebody, only to discover your own knack for something? What is that something? Click here to comment. 

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