Unless you’ve lived deep in the countryside you can have no idea how profoundly disturbing it is when night falls. Without the comfort of street lighting, of streets even; the depth of the hours from twilight to dawn penetrates the soul and throws up all the old childhood fears.

But, you’ll say, I loved the silence on my fortnight’s holiday in a gite. It was blissful.

And I’m sure it was for those whose lives begin and end in a suburban house in a suburban street or for those who live in cities and carve their way through crowds and fumes day after relentless day.

But bliss, I believe, should only come in short bursts anyway. Otherwise how could one compare and contrast?

In the winter months, night here often comes after a spectacular sunset when the sky behind my house has so many shades of pink one loses count.

Other nights the sky is on fire with fierce red as if the very forest itself is burning. And then it is gone and in its place…the pitch black and the impenetrable wait for daylight has begun.

That is when I scurry back to my house, pull shutters tight, bolt and bar them and switch on the television to infuse faux life into the rooms.

I will have to go out maybe three times more as César knocks on the glass doors for release. Those are firmly shut so we go out through the front door, flicking on the one outdoor light at the front.

On good nights either the moon or the stars – so clear without light pollution – are objects of wonder still. The International Space Station can often be seen, as can other satellites, so I’m told.

My grasp on the heavens does not extend much beyond moon, stars, ISS, meteors burning out and…merde…what the hell was that?

On bad nights when nothing can be seen, the very dark itself wraps and winds its way around one; it covers the eyes like two hands pressing, and swirls and taunts with its power.

Poets talk of the caressing velvet of the night. My night is neither caressing nor velvet.

The silence then has its own voice. Even my tinnitus cannot drown it out.

It’s a watchful silence; a knowing silence; always waiting; made up of a dozens of small animals and no doubt a lot of large ones. Made up of the earth itself.

Perhaps too, I fancy, made up of layers of the past, of the history of this place; its pulse still beating though the carapace has long crumbled.

On those nights when my outstretched arm with leash feels as if we’re pushing through something that gives only by its choice, the pair of us are quick to return and lock the door.

It’s nights like those when I think of all who came before me in this house; where the dark was only faintly banished by candlelight and exhaustion from the fieldwork, and an open fire provided the only protection from the often icy cold.

Animal breath and body heat from the cows, cheek by jowl in the room I now write, helped both body and soul. Companions and crude insulation.

Their isolation was complete. Their exterior world indifferent. Sleep their only recourse.

All these thoughts are in my mind today after a sleepless night. I sleep upstairs now, facing a huge window without shutters where trees fill my eye line. In a wind they part, then close, giving me the flash of a security light on a house at least 1km away.

My nightlight, for without it I’d be in the darkness of the grave, is a reassuring glow and most nights I can go down into dreams within 20 minutes.

At almost 2am I was jerked into life by César barking hysterically, then growling. With the odd break of maybe 20 minutes this continued until 8am.

If one went by the barking alone, then the hounds of hell, or worse, were circling the house, testing and probing for a means of entry.

And no, I don’t get up to see what might be outside? Are you mad?

I lie there, phone in hand ready to alert Pierrot, and e-cig wedged in mouth. I put no lights on. Why draw attention to myself if it’s burglars?

I rationalise that any attempt to loosen or smash shutters would give me time to phone Pierrot who, hunter that he is, would be here in minutes.

How many nights have I wasted in such thoughts and fears in all my years here? Ah but yes, says the little devil in my head, perhaps tonight’s the night.

The truth is, as I’ve yelled from day one in Las Molieres, I am not made for this life. And, as I’ve yelled from day one, there is no one to blame but me for choosing it.

But, but…but. The nights do become shorter, the silence is filled with the sound of cicadas and birdsong, and one’s senses are assaulted, this time, with the perfumes of Spring and Summer.

The still warm night finally becomes that velvet caress of poetry.

Meanwhile César is still barking. At nothing. Which is perversely reassuring.

And I am yearning for Spring and light.