This is my first stab at writing a blog, but I found the first blog that interested me, French Word-a-Day — http://french-word-a-day.com — in 2001 or so, long before I ever knew that this sweet petit gout of an American ex-pat’s everyday life in Provence was called a blog. I’ve read it faithfully ever since. As a matter of fact, it’s still the home page on my browser.
Kristi Espinasse, trailblazing blogger, is humble by any estimation and would probably blush to hear that she’s inspired me, but she has. She has graciously allowed me, and her legion of other readers, inside her life. She has introduced us not only to her own petits coins of Provence, her vigneron husband Jean-Marc and children Jackie and Max, her extended family, interesting friends, and delightful neighbors. She has shared both delight in frustration in the quirks and ticks of an American living la vie française. She has taught me dozens of idioms that I would never have learned otherwise, using context to derive meaning, in the effortless style I’m copying now. And she’s a fine photographer. In 2007, her blog was one of the very first to evolve into a book, Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France*. I’ve bought many copies over the years for French-loving friends. There’s many a book I’ve enjoyed thanks to the links on her site. And I don’t know what I’d do without the yogurt cake recipe, an easy home cook’s staple in contrast to the gorgeous, complicated creations best left to the pâtissiers.
Although not by any means lacking in charm or humor, there is nothing sugar-coated about Kristi’s blog. She honestly shares the challenges of everyday life, most of which anyone can relate to. Without self-indulgence, she writes about the stuff of life that isn’t so pretty: her insecurities, her fears, her indecision, and the inevitable family crises. Over the years, this has ranged from coping with messy kids, to what to feed the band of volunteers who come to help with the vendange, to health scares and major life changes. When she is down, she writes through it, understanding that the writing is helping her to name and scale the latest hurdle and, in turn, helping us as well. I remember in particular her own self-doubt when she first started to garden, planting a few seeds with no real idea what to do if or when they sprouted. She has since evoled into a bold experimenter in permaculture* who has produced a “messy” (by her account) but wildly beautiful (mine, judging from her photos) and prolific bounty of good things to eat.
We were lucky enough to visit with Kristi when we made our second trip to Provence in 2008. She was as warm and welcoming as I’d imagined she would be.
So, Kristi, thank you for sharing your Provence life with me, with all of us, and for your friendship over the years. Without your blog, I don’t think I’d be writing #retired.
Thanks to my husband for taking this shot of Kristi and me.