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Pronunication Blooper & Spring Fever in French

         Printemps here at our vineyard.

"It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want — oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!" -Mark Twain. Don't miss hearing the French version, below.


    : fièvre de printemps = spring fever

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I'm not referring to last week's audio file--the one mispronounced by me! Today's blooper, by Jean-Marc, is heard in the first part of the example sentence, below. Listen to the accompanying file. Can you hear the cuss word? What was it? Listen to the end for the entire example sentence. And mille mercis to my husband, who, in between farming his grapevines, does a wonderful job recording these French words!
=> Download MP3 file or Download Wav

Et ça, vous savez ce que c'est? C'est la fièvre du printemps. Parfaitement, c'est comme ça que ça s'appelle. Et quand on l'a attrapée, on a envie - ah, on ne sait pas vraiment de quoi. Mais ce qui est sûr, c'est que cette envie, elle est si forte qu'elle donne mal au coeur. En fait, on dirait que la seule chose. - Mark Twain

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    by Kristi Espinasse

"Guilt & Spring Fever"

Last Monday I burst out of bed, excited to tell you about the treasure I found in the municipal poubelle. The essay was going to be called "Dumpster Diving in France."

Then I realized that in order to fully appreciate a key element of the story (cardboard, though that is not the treasure I'm referring to), you would need to first understand why I prowl around for it in the neighborhood trash bins, and why not everyone appreciates its juste valeur as a garden accouterment (see Shamed by the Married Man's Mistress).

I was set to write both stories last week, only, after posting the first, I fell into a slump so deep I could not even thank you for standing up for me faced with that long-legged, round-bunned, honey-haired garden critic!

I think this set-back had to do with breaking a personal writing rule: Write about your own faults, not those of others (and if you do write about the faults of others, make sure they are your husband's and make sure they are funny!).

(If I would break that rule more often, oh the stories I could tell you!)

Then again, the lull last week--one continuing on into this bright sunny Monday--could be due to a kind of vapor. It is reaching for me again now, curling its fingers around my guilty shoulders, pulling me out of my writing chair...towards all that cardboard and straw that covers my garden like Christmas wrap! Those invisible vapor beads are the scent of spring!

The sweet and musky fragrance of the earth as I rake my fingers through it, c'est enivrant! Intoxicating! What a joy to be able to plunge my hand into the ground for the first time since beginning this gardening odyssey, some 6 six years ago. Back then, I would try in vain to push a seed into the concrete earth. Since, I've learned to pile cardboard, straw, (and any organic matter that my dog won't eat) over the earth. Wait a few months and that concrete is moist sand in my hands.

Or something like sand. All I know is that sitting beside a patch of fragrant earth--and running my hands through its softness, sensing its possibilities--it's all I want to do these days. I can't explain it. Mark Twain can't explain it. But he endeavors to, here, in the end of his famous passage on la fièvre du printemps:

En fait, on dirait que la seule chose qui nous ferait plaisir, ça serait de partir, de quitter toutes ces vieilles affaires parce qu'on les voit tous les jours et qu'elles nous fatiguent."

It seems to you that mainly what you want is to get away; get away from the same old tedious things you're so used to seeing and so tired of, and set something new. That is the idea; you want to go and be a wanderer....

Oui, oui, Monsieur Twain, c'est ça! I want to be a wanderer, wandering the winding paths of beans, wildflowers, and trees, and tucking in, from time to time beneath their shady leaves. Sitting snug between the aloe vera and a carpet of parsley, snapping up sweet sprigs to chew while looking out over This Great Green Work in Progress, I am satisfied even before I have reached the final course, whatever that may be, wherever that may lead.

I need not go anywhere else. And if ever I am missed, you know where to find me. Just follow the scent of spring.


To comment on today's story click here.

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Kim Arnold


I believe I did hear a little "putain!" whispered in there. (Ah, we're all only human!) The French seem to use that to stand in for about 3 or 4 different American English words. Which one do you think is most equivalent?

I love the quote from Twain, and je vous aime aussi!

Carry on, warrior! You are brave and beautiful.



What a wonderful quote from Mark Twain! Alas, le printemps has yet to make a real entrance into Ontario. I woke up this morning to a light dusting of snow. Kristi, your story leaves me with a cozy sense of hope. Merci!

Jacqueline Bucar

MDR. oui c'est putain! Mais la citation toujours très belle, surtout présentée par la voix mélodieux de ton mari.!
bonne continuation

Bettye Dew

Notre printemps seems to come and go; one day we have it in our grasp, the next it has slipped away. This week's projected temperatures for St. Louis look very promising, though.
Yesterday, the first day of spring, brought us a couple hours of snowflakes that soon melted, but today we woke up to glorious sunshine. So great for the spirit, that sunshine. So restorative. So welcome. Enjoy your adventures in gardening, Kristi. I love reading about them and am hoping they inspire me to get busy with my own patches very soon. I am a binge gardener, with bursts of great activity followed by unfortunate lulls (particularly in hot weather). I hope, like always, to be more consistent this year!

Diane W. Young

Oh, what I wouldn't give for the sunny fields of La Belle France! My backyard is all shade and all I have is a few pitiful pot plants around the patio. My one spring present is the dogwood is blooming and a few azaleas. Last week we here in North Florida had beautiful spring weather. Today it was in the 40's when we woke up and will be again tomorrow, but it's sunny. Then, as the temperature warms up, the rain will return. I was a spring baby, born on Good Friday 80 years ago this year. I'm looking out the window at a gorgeous blue sky, so we're trying to savor the cool, knowing that the sizzling summer will come before we're ready. Enjoy your daffodils or jonquils.


I think it's great your Fievre de Printemps wanderlust is taking you right to your own backyard. That shows such a beautiful contentment and joy in the very life you're living each day. You are blessed and you have made it so!

Bettye Dew

Pardon me, but here's one more comment: No need to feel guilty about using the "long-legged, round-bunned, honey-haired" mistress/garden critic in your previous story. After all, she walked into your life, opened her mouth, and thus created the "conflict" in your story. All her doing. That's life and that's the personal essay. You were in no way mean-spirited in painting a picture of this particular joy-killer. And believe me,your readers respond to that characterization. We're on your side. We know how you feel. Yes, a husband can make a great comic foil, but variety is good too. I for one liked reading about this one.


I thought "mal au cœur" was nausea...?

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Bettye! I appreciate your thoughts.


lovely, lovely spring.....


Our dear Kristi,
Another beautiful and timely post today;just scratching my head over how quickly this year is already passing and how soon Spring will melt into Summer.
Your words always wrap us in hugs,Kristi.Always something we look forward to and treasure being part of your life.
I'd like to share another quote by Mark Twain,in addition to the beautiful one you shared with us now.
"Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."
By your many examples and inspirations,it really describes you.
Natalia. Xo

Rachel Vincent

You are absolutely right, the faults of others should not be literary fodder. I would expand your "golden" rule to include not even thinking about them! What value to us to "dumpster dive" into the faults of others, when our value is intrinsic! Why relinquish so much power to a passing stranger, that we are thrown into a deep slump? And as for our spouses, they should be honored as we honor ourselves. Their
short comings should never be "funny". After all we are reflections each of the other.

If you know who you are and stay true to who you are, you are a winner!


Yes there is always the garden when the world ceases to satisfy...I am here in Deux Sevres for only a few days before heading back to Paris. How I so miss the French countryside, but dang, it is so cold!! Had to buy a coat in Paris- thought I only needed a raincoat!! Your post is wonderful- I see wild flowers along the road everywhere-and it IS spring now.
As for dumpster diving, it reminded me of a sidewalk stop in a German city in the early 80s- there, looking perfectly clean & folded for the trash pickup, was a down comforter in a heavy cotton covering. You bet, I picked it up , & to this day it is used when guests need more comfort (it was only a twin sizes comforter). So thick & heavy- best & probably only dumpster pickup I ever did. There is always a rainbow after a Dark cloud passes by.

Ruth Massaro

i want to agree with Ms. Bettye Dew about Mistress Garden Critic. I enjoyed that post of yours, --you wrote about how YOU felt, in YOUR reaction to her and I could relate, having been in such situations from time to time. "The poor dear," I ultimately have to say about this critic--she did not have the benefit of an upbringing that taught her it is just plain rude to make such comments about someone's home/garden/efforts.

Debbie Rhoades

Do you know how lucky you are to hear that beautiful French voice every day? I would be swooning :o) I love reading your posts. I live in Oklahoma, in the USA, and don't hear Frech very often here. Your posts are lovely!


I loved this post for two reasons - first, I am dealing with, for the first time in my life, what you wrote of - spring fever! Being sick of the mundane chores that we have been doing (inside) for the past few months or so and I want OUT! Your post couldn't have come at a better time. In fact, I will read it again to really let it sink and and refocus my energies (or to get some motivation). And the second reason - your husband made me laugh out loud. Boy does that word make me miss France (where you hear it much more than you'd expect!)!
Merci, comme d'hab :)

nadine goodban

Ah oui, j'ai entendu le "gros mot" ..... mais c'est tellement courant que Marc n'a même pas dû s'apercevoir qu'il l'avait prononcé .....

Très bonne continuation à tous !

Bruce in Northwest Connecticut

What a marvelous rule (even if it's more of a guideline)! I've said it before: You are a far kinder person than I.

As a grammar pedant, I find it odd to hear the term "putain" without it being applied to someone. It means … umm … "lady of the evening," no? In English that would be an insult — or, I suppose, a job description — but not an expletive.

Although, now that I think about it, "SOB" (in its longer form) is an expletive. It can be said with regard to an event or situation as well as to an individual. I guess the two languages aren't so dissimilar after all.

See? I always learn something from your columns.


Hi Kristin, thank you for a wonderful post: I loved the Mark Twain quote! Yes spring in the garden is enlightening -- and realizing so many possibilities that can spring up from the ground. It is your canvas. You are a fabulous gardener and you create in a wonderful eclectic way, like I do. I love mixing it all up.
I'm sorry that young woman (a guest) did not "get" your garden at the stage it was in. I look sadly at her because she knows nothing about the constant changes in a garden especially post winter. She is ignorant and I'm sorry her words hurt you. Humans can disappoint I know and young people often don't think through their words before they spill out from their mouth.


Once again you have brought joy and laughter to this vieux homme. Your ever-growing skills as a writer, photographer, gardener continue to enrich your humble humerous soul and character couched in a beautiful package. As a life-long gardener who no longer can work a jardin, I know the joy of putting one's hands in the accepting earth . Milles de mercis!

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,

I was going to comment on the picture you have painted of the glory of spring and the warm scented earth, the promises that emerge and the comfort they brings. But my thoughts have been totally distracted and captured by Fred's words. They are beautiful, sincere and touching words. Hold on tightly to them...

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Fred! Your note means the WORLD to me! All the responses here mean so much. Thank you all for taking the time to comment. On my way back out the the garden, now...à bientôt!


Hi Kristi!

Happy Spring! I love to hear cuss words in other languages.....so funny! Do the French have any funny sayings instead of cussing? My mom used to say "Fiddlesticks" My dad used to say "Son of a biscuit eater" haha

Andrea Hughes

My grandfather used to say: "Nom d'un chien!"

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