... flutters, then settles on the one mauve flower of the aubrietia I've just planted and raises its wings in the sunlight to display a translucent pale green underside and a single brown dot.
It's mild and dry. Too mild and worryingly dry, according to Monsieur F who pauses from spreading fertiliser pellets in the field below the cottage garden and climbs down off his tractor for a chat. He contrasts our situation with the flooding in Cumbria and we shake our heads over what they are suffering in the UK and also the state of the reservoirs along our valley (in eight years we've never seen them so low) and what this will mean for crops next summer if we have no winter rain.
We wish each other "bonne continuation" - he to his tractor, me to my fork and pickaxe as I return to the seemingly never-ending task of removing builder's rubble, ever deeper and ever larger, from the cottage flower beds. If this coming year is to be dry the plants will need all the help they can get to extend their roots to find moist soil.
I'm hoping the buddleia that died back during this year's drought will revive and be covered in butterflies next summer.
In the 1970's I lived in Brazil and I wrote home to my mother in the UK every week. Those letters became the story of my life there. In 2007 I moved to south west France. Not quite sure where "home" is, I have no family left in the UK. If I did, these words would be my letters home, capturing the first impressions of my life here, to share, enjoy and perhaps re-read in years to come.