Heavy frost blurs the difference between snow-free meadow and woods, where a white fur lingers. The distant stutter of a Jake-braking truck.

‪Traffic sounds have returned to the valley: tires whistle, trucks groan. Off in the woods, some large animal crunches through the ice. ‬

The flashing light on the meter-reader’s truck emerges from the fog. The meadow is dotted with the white, inverted tents of funnel spiders.

Another cool morning. From over the ridge, an inversion layer relays the whine of tires on asphalt and the keening work-songs of trucks.

Warmer, and the daffodils have once more managed to stand up. There goes the meter-reader’s white pickup, topped by a flashing orange light.

After verifying that the latest vehicle to drive up does not contain her people, the old dog lies down, resignation written in every muscle.