At 5:15, I’m startled by the dark sky, the closeness of the stars. At daybreak, seven deer stand within a stone’s throw of the porch.

How is it the stars, glittering as brightly as I’ve ever seen them, can begin to fade before the first perceptible lightening of the sky?

Warm and windy. I’ve been staring at the same dim star for five minutes now. The roaring on the ridge drowns out every other sound.

So quiet, I could be in the middle of nowhere: nothing but the slow trickle of the stream and the gurgling of my belly. A few faint stars.