From time to time, the clouds have thinned enough to show a bright spot where the moon lies, and, less frequently, the ghostly shape of the moon itself. Yet the dusky, cloud-scattered light has remained all night, dimly revealing the details of the shadowless landscape. For a while, an owl hooted nearby, but mostly there has been only the patter of rain and the trickling of runoff. There are few nights as serene as those enveloped in gentle rainfall. In the last half hour, it has tapered off a bit, but rain is expected to continue off and on for most of the week. I'm glad that it waited until most of the leaves had fallen and been raked. There will be no soggy masses of them to be disposed of. Should the temperatures continue to be as mild as they are now, the well-watered local fields will be fresh and green for the new year. Here, we currently delight in nature's pleasant side, but the horrific reminders we now see daily of its destructive capacity have made darker thoughts inevitable. The owl whose song I lately found so captivating has fallen silent. I picture it gorging on some mouse snatched from its nightly routine by talons now dripping with blood. If I could fly as the owl does, then I might see in the growing light the volcanic cone of Mount Lassen a few dozen miles north, slumbering under clouds almost as dark as those it will one day produce when it wakes once again. I choose to enjoy the soft rains and the green fields while I may. They are dearly bought.