Jim Gaines

‘Locusts’ by Guest Author James F. Gaines

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014


By Alphonse Daudet

Translated by James F. Gaines

          Before returning to my mill, here’s another memory of Algeria…

The night I arrived in that farm on the outskirts of the Sahara, I couldn’t sleep.  The new landscape, the disruption of the trip, the barking of the jackals, and then that sapping, oppressive heat – complete suffocation –  as if the mesh in my mosquito netting could not allow the passage of a single breath of air.  When I opened the window at dawn, a heavy summer fog floated in the air, scarcely drifting along and fringed at the edges with pink and black.  It hovered like a cloud of gunpowder over a battlefield.  Not a leaf fluttered, and in the beautiful gardens that spread out below me, everything had the same sullen mood, the same immobility of foliage waiting for a thunderstorm: the grapevines aligned on the exposed slopes that made for sweet wines, the European orchard tucked into a shady corner, the orange and mandarin trees in long, calibrated rows.  Even the banana trees with their shoots of tender green, always waving in the slightest breeze that tousled the fine, light fronds, stood at attention silent and straight as the plumes of a cavalry regiment.  (more…)

‘Moving In’ – By Alphonse Daudet -Translated by James F. Gaines

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

jim-gains1-300x225The rabbits were the ones who were surprised.  Since they had seen the door of the mill closed for so long, the walls and the front yard invaded by weeds, they had come to think that the species of millers was extinct.  Finding the place empty, they had established it as a sort of headquarters, a center of strategic operations – the Jemmapes Rabbit Mill.  The night I arrived, there were (honestly) twenty of them sitting around the front yard warming their paws in the moonbeams.  The second I opened a window, frrt! they broke camp in a rout and all their little white butts sprinted off, tail in the air, into the bush.  I hope they come back. (more…)

‘The Ordeal of the Semillante’ contributed by Guest Author Jim Gaines

Sunday, July 14th, 2013
Guest Author Jim Gaines

Guest Author Jim Gaines

The Ordeal of the Sémillante[1] -By Alphonse Daudet

-Translated by guest author James F. Gaines

          Since that northerly wind the other night blew us up onto the coast of Corsica, permit me to tell you the tale of a terrible maritime tragedy the fishermen down there mention often during the evenings and on which chance has furnished me with very interesting information. It was two or three years ago.

I was sailing the seas around Sardinia with a team of seven or eight customs officers.  Tough trip for a novice!  All through the month of March we didn’t have a single good day.  The easterly gale bore down on us and the waves would show us no mercy.

One night we were racing before the storm when our boat came to find shelter at the entrance to the Gulf of Bonifacio in the midst of a cluster of little islands.  Their appearance offered nothing encouraging; huge windswept boulders covered with seabirds, a few tufts of wormwood, stunted locust trees, and here and there in the mud, scraps of wood moldering away.  But by heaven, for a spot to spend the night, these hideous rocks were better than the broken keel of wrecked ship where the waves swept in and out as though they owned it, so we made the best of it. As soon as we had gone ashore, while the mates were putting together a fire to boil some chowder, the skipper called me over and showed me a little enclosure of white stones hiding in the broom at the end of the island.  (more…)

The Three Low Masses A Christmas Story by Guest Author Jim Gaines

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

By Alphonse Daudet

Translated by James F. Gaines

“Two stuffed turkeys, Garrigou?”
“Yes, reverend father, two magnificent turkeys stuffed with truffles. I know all about it, since it was I who helped stuff them. You would have thought their skin was going to crack in the roasting, it was so tight…”
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and I love truffles so much! Quick, hand me my surplice, Garrigou. And besides the turkeys, what else did you see in the kitchen?”
“Oh, all kinds of wonderful things. Since noon we’ve been doing nothing but plucking pheasants, grouse, game hens. There were feathers everywhere. Then from the pond they brought trout, golden carp, eels…”
“How big were the trout, Garrigou?”
“Big as this, reverend father, enormous!” he declared, spreading his arms wide.
“Oh, my God, I can just see them. Have you put the wine in the cruets?” (more…)