Dusk's lingering light has faded, revealing stars. The bear fills a vast portion of the visible sky, with it's snout pointing north. A few of its stars flicker, and I hear the rush of wings, a high, whistling call and a series of soft quacks. Another flock of waterfowl are departing. The sultry days and balmy nights have sent them winging toward a northern home still snowbound. When their calls fade, the placid night sings only with the chorus of frogs. They aren't going anywhere, at least while their pools and mossy banks remain. The tallest pine in the west modestly veils the waxing moon's white grin with sprays of needles. All this land thinks winter gone, and doesn't know that its icy rage persists beyond the protecting mountain walls of our fortunate clime. Above, the vast, illusory form of the bear appears to still nap in the ancient celestial winter that never fails. Earthly winter means nothing in that reach from which Earth itself is unseen. This waking corner of a tiny world is alone in chill immensity, its seasons like the flicker of stars briefly obscured by the wings of passing birds.