Le Weekend, 12/31/21: Bonne Année ??

A man wearing a suit and tie

New Year’s Eve, 2021

Dear Frenchly Readers,


On this New Year’s Eve, I wish you love and joy. I hope you will take a moment to quietly notice, in the coming days, how the light is coming back, minute by minute, and how the days are getting longer. It always feels like a miracle to me: the little gifts of light every day.

In our family we will make fondue, both cheese and chocolate, tonight, as we do every year. Some of our favorite things to dunk in the cheese are smoked turkey and pickles and dilly beans. In the chocolate, we are partial to clementine,  lemon and lime slices, though banana is also a favorite.

Tonight, I will share a lovely poem by one of my favorite poets, Jacques Prévert. It’s called, “To Paint a Bird’s Portrait.” Please find it below in both English and French.

To me, this is a lovely meditation for the coming year: Remember to paint out the bars. Remember lush branches and the sun’s scintillations. Remember that sometimes we have to wait for beauty, but that beauty will always come, but not always in ways that we yet  understand. Remember that there are times when you must stay very still, hold your breath and hope.

À bientôt and see you next year,



“Pour faire le portrait d’un oiseau”

A Elsa Henriquez

Peindre d’abord une cage
avec une porte ouverte
peindre ensuite
quelque chose de joli
quelque chose de simple
quelque chose de beau
quelque chose d’utile
pour l’oiseau
placer ensuite la toile contre un arbre
dans un jardin
dans un bois
ou dans une forêt
se cacher derrière l’arbre
sans rien dire
sans bouger . . .
Parfois l’oiseau arrive vite
mais il peut aussi bien mettre de longues années
avant de se décider
Ne pas se décourager
attendre s’il le faut pendant des années
la vitesse ou la lenteur de l’arrivée de l’oiseau
n’ayant aucun rapport
avec la réussite du tableau
Quand l’oiseau arrive
s’il arrive
observer le plus profond silence
attendre que l’oiseau entre dans le cage
et quand il est entré
fermer doucement la porte avec le pinceau
effacer un à un tous les barreaux
en ayant soin de ne toucher aucune des plumes de l’oiseau
Faire ensuite le portrait de l’arbre
en choisissant la plus belle de ses branches
pour l’oiseau
peindre aussi le vert feuillage et la fraîcheur du vent
la poussière du soleil
et le bruit des bêtes de l’herbe dans la chaleur de l’été
et puis attendre que l’oiseau se décide à chanter
Si l’oiseau ne chante pas
c’est mauvais signe
Signe que le tableau est mauvais
mais s’il chante c’est bon signe
signe que vous pouvez signer


“To Paint a Bird’s Portrait”

to Elsa Henriquez

(translated from the French by Jacqueline Michaud)

Paint first a cage
with the door open
next paint
something pretty
something simple
something lovely
something of use
to the bird
then put the canvas near a tree
in a garden
in the woods
or in a forest
hide behind the tree
say nothing
don’t move…
Sometimes the bird comes quickly
but it can just as well take many years
before deciding
Don’t be disheartened
wait years if need be
the pace of the bird’s arrival
bearing no relation
to the success of the painting
When the bird comes
if it comes
keep very still
wait for the bird to enter the cage
and once it has
gently shut the door with the brush
paint out the bars one by one
taking care not to touch any of the bird’s feathers
Next paint the tree’s portrait
choosing the loveliest of its branches
for the bird
paint likewise the green leaves and fresh breeze
the sun’s scintillation
and the clamor of crickets in the heat of summer
and then wait until the bird decides to sing
If the bird does not sing
that’s a bad sign
A sign the painting is no good
but if it sings that’s a good sign
a sign you can sign

A close up of a sign


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