"Schlaraffenland", the German Arcadia.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

All The Barnyard Animals

Two summers ago Lorraine, Isabel, Alexander and I traveled to France where we rented a donkey named Odyssee. Odyssee carried our bags while we tramped around the hills and valleys of southern Burgundy for several days, staying in farm B&Bs along the way. Part of what attracted us to this particular itinerary was the charmingly worded description of the first farm, the Coq a l'Ane:

"It is in the real mini farm that you are invited: hens, cocks, asses, rabbits, guinea pigs and Fran├žoise will invite the children in the morning to the collection of eggs and to the cuddles of asses, rabbits for their biggest pleasure."
 Now I ask you, who does not pine for the cuddles of asses in the morning?

Isabel and Alexander are both in French immersion, although at that time Alexander had only just finished Kindergarten. We would often ask Isabel for help in translating, especially at the Coq a l'Ane as Francoise spoke no English whatsoever. Isabel would watch us flounder about with our thirty year old Prairie high school French and then would correct us afterwards when Francoise wasn't around.

One subject of particular interest was the name of the farm. Lorraine and I gathered that it meant something like "Roosters to Donkeys" as the farm indeed featured both of those animals and many more. It also turned out to be a French expression meaning "all the barnyard animals", or in some cases also, "suddenly changing the subject" (i.e. jumping from talking about roosters to talking about donkeys).

In any case, Lorraine and I were sitting at the picnic table in the meadow behind the house, looking out over the storybook landscape, sipping a marvelous local white wine when Isabel came running up to us. She was very excited.
"Mommy, daddy, you're wrong! I figured it out! It's not 'to', it's 'to the'! Coq a'l'Ane means 'Cock to the Ass'! Cock to the Ass!!"

My sweet eight year old girl was joyfully shouting "cock to the ass" at the top of her lungs... We sputtered and choked on our wine and began to laugh. Isabel was confused.

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