Seven hounds and other assorted mutts joyously hurtle their way along the bottom of Monsieur F's field beside the stream, the front two (massive Bassets, their ears flapping) baying loudly. Hunting? I doubt it. Their demeanour says "freedom" after six months of being cooped up in cages.
Some time later, three dogless hunters stand on the crest of the hill behind where I'm weeding, one of them forlornly tooting a hunting horn in the vain hope that their errant pack will obey and return.
Bertie sits on the edge of the lawn of the cottage barking. His echo comes straight back at him: Yap, Yap, (yap, yap) Yap, Yap, Yap (yap, yap, yap). The old man with his dog that has bells on its collar is working his way alongside the stream in the bottom of the valley, much to Bertie's annoyance. The dog is hidden in the long grass, only the tinkling of the bells gives him away.
In the lunchtime lull (guns, dogs and hunters having departed in assorted white vans) I realise a robin is serenading me from a nearby bush, its song every bit as lyrical as a nightingale's. He flutters down to where I've been digging the heavy clay, now softened by September's rains, keeping me just at arm's length while he searches for grubs.
Later, in the distance, there's the roar of a giant combine harvester clearing Alain's land of his organic soy beans, while in the neighbouring field Philippe rattles and clangs backwards and forwards on his old tractor ploughing in the bleached maize stubble.
Buzzards wheel high overhead, mewing, as they hunt for small rodents.
October is mild and sunny - outside warmer than indoors. Early mornings start misty and then dissolve into a warm golden light.
2 years ago