It is the coldest night so far this year. Returning indoors after only a few minutes in the open air, my ears burn. What remains of last night's snow has frozen, and makes a loud crunch when walked on. The damp asphalt of the street utterly absorbs the moonlight and is darker than the deepest shadows. The sparse winter stars are visible through thin puffs of cloud which are no more than a pale pattern against the dark sky. But the moon is bright, and the shadow of the fruitless mulberry tree is sharply etched on the snow. It looks like a series of elaborate channels; a relief map of the delta of some ancient river, flowing into a desert once a sea. The night has an eerie, haunted beauty, but I am glad that I have a warm room to return to, and a cat curled sleeping at my feet. A night like this is too cold, and too large.