Sometimes it is so hard to let go of summer.
To stop coming inside, off and on, during the day to the cool of terracotta floors and stone interiors. Inside, for a 10-minute pause on tanned, almost dirty feet, to drink long and hard from a bottle of iced water from the fridge.
To mop sweat from the brow; to meander and check phones and emails. And then to return to the scorching heat outside and hit that 40C again with a sigh midway between contentment and discomfort.
Hard to put away the sun loungers around the pool and turn off the motor that drives the detritus down into the filter hour after hour even when it is not in use.
Hard to catch the cold breath of autumn on opening the shutters, instead of the cheek-caressing sun that promises only further heat as the day evolves.
Hard even to say goodbye to the fat bees that sloped around the lavender, wing in wing with the hover moths and butterflies.
Hard to watch the grass increasingly covered with brown leaves and hear the staccato burst of conkers falling from the guardians who surround Las Molieres.
Harder still to see the autumn spiders – big-bellied and long-limbed – making their way into the nooks and crannies of my house. Harder because I thought we had a deal: stay outside and I will not kill you. Invade and I will.
My mantra is proving tough with the mother of all spiders that has taken residence outside of one of my sitting-room windows. Her exquisite web covers most of it and when I open and close the shutters we have an understanding where she retreats to the top of the frame.
The harvest mice will follow soon and however pretty their little twitching faces may be, I will lay down the poison that fatally attracts them and will kill them horribly. One or two will die behind my bookcases and I will know it by the sickly sweet smell of decay that will remain for days.
Tonight, as I write this, mid October at precisely 7.30pm French time, the shutters are still open, and walking outside I can still wear short sleeves and cotton trousers.
Around me is a last, glorious burst of colour in the "parc" and the tubs all around Las Molieres. Geraniums, wisteria, hibiscus and other things I cannot name still flower.
The Virginia creeper I've grown to hide the damp and mould is still green and rampant. The berberis is climbing inch by inch and the roses are having a third flush.
The wildflowers, thrown every year into the mounds around the house, are rampant – purple, white, mixtures of both; heads defiantly staring into the last of the hot, hot rays of the sun.
A bunch of them sit in a little hand-painted tin jug on the table in front of me. I bought the jug roughly 10 years ago in a shop about an hour ago from here when I was on a story. I knew nothing of this area then, had never heard of Moissac or Castelsarrasin and knew France only in a brittle way – Paris, Provence, the French Alps.
But I had a frisson, a moment, when I thought: "I could live here one day."
With the jug that day, I also bought a hand-painted mug with "Bonjour" painted on the side, and once back in Glasgow I fantasised about a life in France; in truth never believing I would actually live it. In truth fearing I might actually try to. Then I found myself doing so.
And so I come to another autumn here; half missing, already, the ferocity of the heatwave; awaiting the first scent of the wood smoke when my farming neighbours light the first fires.
My tan is still strong but even now the still-powerful sun hasn't quite the heat any more that pulses under the skin and pushes a hot light outwards.
When I open the shutters in the early morning there's a fog; there are thousands, thousands, of spider webs caught in a morning mist.
I sniff but there is nothing. It is just a little too early for the wood smoke.
But it is coming and once again I think how much I enjoy seasons and could never live in constant sun, however much I crave it.
It is still hard, though, to let go of the summer. I will miss the sharp intake of heat on opening my doors in the morning. I will miss the face-wrapping scarf of warmth as I step outside.
I will miss knowing that every day will be hot. That I can plan drinks and meals outside and invite people for a glass of rosé, because that's what we do in the sun.
But I will also look forward to autumn; shutters closed, wood-burner burning, new books to be read on grey afternoons.
Knowing, God willing, that summer won't be too long in the coming. n
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