Petit a petit l’oiseau fait son nid

I am getting to know Paris, a bit—a bit better than I am learning the language. There is a saying the French use—Petit a peti l’oiseau fait son nid: Little by little the bird builds its nest.

The idiom conveys how small actions can create large results. How as we all work away, work at learning, work at getting better, getting over, getting through, we become something more. It is a beautiful image. The one of a fragile bird left to the torrents of weather, yet knowing he must carry on, slowly, continuously. The bird is resilient and each year he knows he must begin again in preparation for new eggs and new life. Seemingly, the bird never tires, returning time and again to the task. Time and time again, persevering.

I would like to say I have worked at my French little by little, but even that may be an overstatement. I am incredibly good at saying Bonjour Madam, Monsieur; je voudrais une cafe, un bier, un verre vin, as well as petit baguette s’il vous plait, and the ever repeated Oui, Oui, Oui and Merci! Merci! Merci! Which is often followed by a rousing Tres Bien. While it’s pitiful and regretful, it does get me through most everyday. I have not starved or gone thirsty.

But I do hunger to learn the language and communicate properly. I am envious watching others do so with seeming ease. But I know it cannot happen overnight. It happens little by little, just like so much else in life.

I gave myself the greatest gift this year—taking time off from regular life schedules, to work on my writing, to work on what I am passionate about. Have I written my life’s work, my manuscript, or even one firmly completed piece? No, I have not. I know I am not alone. I know others also have ambitions and desires, wishes and dreams and not all of them have come to fruition.

Yet I believe if we keep going and keep persisting and persevering, then we like the bird, will build what we imagine and what we desire. We will attain what we need—little by little, bit by bit.


  1. Lori says:

    Ann, you are so right. We do keeping going and we do keep going.on little by little ,bit by bit. And hopefully we learn more about ourselves and our focus as we do just that. I know there is light at the end of my tunnel so I search on and revel in the process no matter how hard it may be. I am getting stronger every day. Thank you for all your wonderful writings.


  2. Nancy says:

    Love that phrase. It feels so nice on the tongue and ends with a smile (try saying “nid” without smiling) and love your sentiments along side it. Oui, oui, oui! Merci, merci, merci!

    1. Ann says:

      Merci! Nancy…Je vous verrai bientôt

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