Everybody else in the house is sleeping, even the cats. In fact, the whole town is sleeping, as far as I can tell. I've gone out a couple of times (and returned shivering) and have heard not a sound from anywhere, except for a pair of rambunctious raccoons engaged in some frolic just after midnight. But it seems that no human wants to be abroad in this frigid night. From my front porch, I can see Orion dominating a big chunk of sky in the west. Tonight, he is the liveliest company I have.
Indeed, in the deep silence and the darkness which obliterates every trace of the surrounding houses where they crouch under the tall pines and bare, bony oaks, I might surmise that Orion and I have the entire universe to ourselves. But I know that if I lived in one of the valley towns I would hear the distant rumble of the highway where the trucks run all night, every night, and now and then I would hear the louder grind of a train passing, the diesels humming as they drag the clattering cars along the tracks. There would be the glow from the streetlights, as well, blotting out the lesser stars and even dimming Orion. It is only because this place has few such lights, and lacks any through highway, that I can feel this sense of isolation. The big world carries on away from here, and I am in this shrunken verge, indulging in fantasies of isolation.
Even the wilds nearby are islands now, washed in places such as this by the breakers of the teeming world. For a few hours, the tide recedes and quiet prevails, but soon enough dawn will wake the town, revealing the streets and houses, bringing forth the shoppers and kids on Christmas bikes and Saturday drivers. Smoke will curl from the chimneys and the invisible vibrations in the air will be captured and converted to football games and newscasts and cartoons, and the forest will lie revealed, ridge on ridge, green and still, overlooking it all. Orion will be gone to someone else's night, and have another name. May they enjoy his silent companionship as much as I have.