Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Les Giboulées de Mars

I've learnt a new word that gives me great pleasure - giboulées.

I like the feel of it in my mouth. It's a completely new word that I could not possibly have guessed, unlike some words where I optimistically say the same as in English (direction, electricity, silence) with what I hope is a French accent and hope that it means the same.

I first heard it from our French teacher, Yvette, as she opened her front door to me a couple of weeks back and we shuddered in the sharp hail-filled wind. She told me that the French have "April showers" in March but there is a coldness in les giboulées which is not there in the benign English version.

I promptly forgot the word, as I do with most new words. Then Yvette said it to me again last week and this time, for some reason, it stuck. So, to my immense pride, I was able to use it to a new acquaintance we met at friends on Sunday as we looked out at the rain clouds scudding across the landscape. Then, when we were walking the dogs last night, one of our neighbours used it in conversation and I understood. (Neighbour by the way means anyone within a kilometer radius.)

The dictionary tells me the word means "wintery shower", but it also embraces a wider sense of the changes in the weather in March - four seasons in a day, according to our neighbour. We were in T-shirts in the sun on Friday and now we are back to thermals.

We've promise of frost over the next few nights, so the little mandarin tree will be back in the shelter of the dining room.

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