High in the Taconic range of the Hudson Valley, the last one awake in the house, with the blasting wind embedding needles of ice into the side of the ancient farmhouse. Chimneys, the attic, or the house as a whole is making a slow, medium-pitched whine from the gusts that make little pieces of paper shudder on nightstands and book tables.
These are the last three weeks of the longest nights, the pitch-blackness that tests your mettle, asks if you think you can get through the winter. St. Lucy’s day, evolved from the Scandinavian goddess who might bring light back from the night, is still a fortnight away. There is no snow to illuminate your path, the moon is hidden behind miles of clouds, and family hunkers together in a mystical, worried celebration, subdued by early fatigue and a weak sun.
Those months ago, when you put in that extra nail, when you made sure the beam was steadfast, when you spent an extra minute on that project in the unending sun of a hot, languid afternoon, you might have saved yourself tonight. A little seam, that one stitch, will keep it all together when the winds come. You can probably rest easy tonight, even hibernate. Save your strength, as it has always saved you.