All good things must come to an end. (Or so I'm told. Personally I don't see why they should. Sounds a bit like a Puritan conspiracy to me. However.)
For a start, summer seems to have left us, suddenly and definitively. One day I'm outside wearing - well, not much, and sweltering; the next I'm reluctantly pulling on long sleeves. And today even I, the anti-clothes queen of Ariège, found myself putting on jeans - and, heaven forfend, a denim jacket - for the first time since the spring. I know of course that it's (probably) not all over bar the shouting - we can, and often do, get a wonderful Indian summer. And then there's l'été de la Saint Martin, around 11 November, which is often (more often than you might expect by chance ) an unusually mild and sunny period, after the first frosts but before the first snows - and almost exactly six months apart from the Saints de Glace. But all this aside, today I felt chilly, and I'm not good at that.
And then there's the diminishing of the light. Whereas just a couple of weeks ago we were happily eating outside at 9pm, now it's dark by 8.30, and by the time you've put all the outside lights and something warm on, to be honest the whole thing kind of loses the plot and so on the whole we've retreated indoors. I think we must be becoming French, or something. Mind you, to a sunlight freak like me there's something terribly depressing about the daily loss of daylight we have to endure for six months of the year, especially as it starts in June when summer hasn't even got going: the summer solstice may well be the beginning of summer, but it's also the beginning of the darkness. (Now the winter solstice ... that really is cause for celebration ....)
As if that weren't all enough, we're going through our own, slightly belated, rentrée: after our fantastic Ariège holiday week we're back at work with a vengeance ... and The Perfectionist is back for a final (well final-ish) fling. Much as I love my builder, however, I don't love the lime and plaster dust and mackerel tins that he has a habit of trawling along with him ... The good news though is that the new dining room is now lime plastered, has a door, and almost looks like a room and not the goat shed that it was (you do still have to leap a metre down to get to it as there are no steps yet, but I'm told that will change by ... December. Sigh.); the good-and-bad news is that the next couple of weeks will see us borrowing some scaffolding from a friend and lime washing the entire room, the walls of which are - gulp - 5 metres high.
And so maybe all this goes some way towards explaining why a quick trip to Saint Girons market to buy broccoli plants this morning got waylaid into coffee with friends, and then into a bit of food shopping, and then into the buying of a half price barbecue, and then into a fully fledged shop-till-you-drop session for new clothes. Both of us have dropped two full sizes since we moved here and now that the trouser-wearing season has returned we've both tended to look, as my mother used to say, like sacks of potatoes, which is not good for the ego (and hoisting your Andy Pandy trousers up 127 times an hour gets pretty boring too). Although I'm not generally a fan of shopping, do you know what? It was fun. And two hours, five shops and several carrier bags later, we're fit to be seen in public again.