Until it set, the gibbous moon illuminated thin clouds which drifted like the smoke of some flameless invisible fire vast enough to consume the world. Now that the storm has passed, the night is almost an aural desert. Now and then a twig will snap, or a vagrant breeze will raise a hushed murmur from a stand of pines, but most often silence prevails. Wind is yet rushing the dark forms of the clouds northward, but no sound of it reaches the dank earth. Vision, too, is obscured, with only one star or another briefly unveiled by gaps in the clouds to provide some focus for the eye. Deprived of sound and sight, I am inundated by the scent of land and forest, of decaying vegetation and saturated wood. It is the smell of things breaking down, returning to elemental soil, or of things that thrive on the cold and damp, sucking up the nutrients of that decay. Winter nights smell of struggles, and of the passage of time.