I haven't seen deer wandering about for a long time, but the raccoons have emerged to explore the dry but icy night. One can follow their progress along the street by watching the motion-sensing lights go on and off in one yard after another. I wonder what these nocturnal beasts think of the sudden glare which repeatedly engulfs them? Maybe they think they are being stalked. But, given their relatively short life spans, it's more likely that none of those now living remember a time when this didn't happen. By now, they probably think it's normal for light to suddenly burst out in certain places, and they would be surprised if it didn't. They'd probably be surprised if the trash cans suddenly disappeared, too. Raccoons in places such as this are almost half-domesticated beasts now. They certainly never show alarm when I emerge from my house while they are poking about in my yard. Sometimes they give me oblique looks, but for the most part, they ignore me and go about their business. They've figured out that I'm not a dog, and probably won't try to eat them. As long as they know that I'm not food for them, we'll get along fine. I don't mind the raccoons, but I'd rather see the deer. I hope they're getting along OK in this harsh season.
Sounds arrive, of distant cars passing and dogs barking, of rustling in bushes as birds settle for the night. The silent crescent moon slides down a pine branch and drops from sight. A few small clouds still reflect its dim glow, while the rest of the sky is a sprinkling of stars. I invent a new constellation, just above Orion's head. No longer The Hunter, he now totes an immense paper fan. Or maybe he has become a dancer in a movie ballet choreographed by Agnes DeMille, and I see him in mid-leap, trailing a vast billow of silk held aloft by a wind machine. He will soon pirouette into the arms of Gene Kelly, and they will kiss, briefly, before parting forever. Perhaps, somewhere, Cyd Charisse stalks a bear.