It is quiet and still when I wake. I feel my way down the stairs, through the cabin to the matches hanging on the wall by the wood cook stove. I know just where they are, and just which side to hold to strike to light the candle. The moon is not yet up this morning. It will be just a small sliver coming up over the Mesa to the southeast. I have been able to use her light in the mornings for the past week to find my way around to do the early morning chores (light the fires, get the coffee on, feed the inside pets, etc.) but she is later and later each day. Tomorrow she will rise right before the sun, just a fingernail curve in the pale lit sky, chasing the stars to the west as the silvery first light spreads across the sky.
I hear the heavy breathing of the old dog, usually the only sound I can discern until the fire begins its crackling. So familiar am I with the modest noises, smells, feels, the number of steps from the kitchen sink to the wood stove. The light from the stars on the white ground outside is far brighter than the inside of our cabin. Ah, but we are so much warmer!
I step out onto the deck to let the dog out, the cold air startles me, and glance up at this endless depth of stars. I do not see but hear the horses, their flat dessert-dish feet crunching on this snow. A quick rustle of feet tells me the stallion is chasing after one of the mares again. The light rapid pattering tells me the babies are catching up to their mothers. I don’t need to see it to understand. The heavy, slow rhythmic thump tells me the big old broodmare, slow and burdened with belly weighted with her next foal, is leading the bunch to the hay shed, to await me like clockwork, just after the sky is fully lit.