At night, the clouds withdraw from the ridge and settle over the valley, but not until the early moon has set. Then the stars sparkle alone above the gesturing pines, but in the west they fade into the band of pearly haze obscuring the horizon. The air is cool, and has the crisp scent of winter. In the darkness, I hear an owl hooting. The only other sound is the hum of an unfelt breeze in the treetops. I listen for a while, the stars growing brighter as my eyes adjust to the night. The owl hoots, falls silent, hoots again. After a while, there is a rustling in a nearby tree, the sound of wings, a sharp squeal, wings fading away, then only the hum of the pine needles played by the breeze. I think I caught sight of a shadow among the shadows, from the corner of my eye. What transpires in the night is ancient and without words, and the stars seem very small, and the Earth very far away. I go back through my door and close it. The soft, curled cat sleeping in her chair kicks her hind feet twice and softly growls. Her whiskers twitch. I wonder what mice perish in her dreams?