It is dark, and it is snowing. I can see little flakes of whiteness floating down into my circle of light, and I can hear them too, hissing quietly when they hit the candle-flame. Cold air rushes through my body when I breathe, and it rises in clouds around me.

Time and distance feel meaningless now, and my world seems to have shrunk to encompass this small bit of warm light given off by the candle. Outside my circle of light, the world is impossibly dark. Little pinpricks of stab out from the blackness above me, and I know they are stars. Or maybe they are candles, lit by other lonely people, far away in the darkness. I can almost believe that my candle is a star, to some far off person.

My feet move mechanically, plowing through the heavy snowdrifts as I sink up to my ribs in the powder, now my knees, now my thighs. The depth is erratic, depending on the ground underneath, which is riddled with bottomless holes and tussocks.

My light is erratic too, sometimes bright and steadily yellow, sometimes tiny and blue, sickly. Constant movement is not good for a candle flame. Flame needs fuel and oxygen, but if there is too much air, moving too fast, it dies.

It would be very dark here if my candle dies, so I pause, letting it grow again, before moving on.

I do not notice any trees until they are on top of me, the willows brushing my face with their icy branches, the spruce trees looming over me. They too, work to make time meaningless, since each is much like the last. If it were not for the snow, I could be walking the same stretch tirelessly, lost. But behind me is an unmistakable trail, an ugly line plowed through the otherwise unbroken whiteness, marking my passage.

It is cold, but not cold. The air nips at my skin, but does not bite. It burns as I take it down my throat, but does not leave me gasping.

I have entered a dreamlike state, moving without purpose, endlessly, mesmerized by the flickering yellow circle around me. Against the light, the snowflakes seem like prisms, catching the sparkle and reflecting it back at me in cheering twinkles. To someone standing in the snow a ways off, I would be just a tiny ball of light, moving slowly and jerkily through the drifts.

There is no color in this scene. The snow is a thick, smothering white, and a light sort of gray shows a coating of frost on the willows' skin. The sky is black. How can such detail, such perfection be shown in such simplicity? Such beauty expressed with such lackluster shades?

It is dark, and I am getting lost. Turning, I can see a faint light in the direction I have come, heralding warmth and rest.

With a sigh, I admit defeat, and turn back, forging a new trail simply for the pleasure of watching the candlelight slide over the soft curves of the snow before me. The candlelight kissing the icy swells, gently caressing each snowflake that drifts to the ground.

It is dark, and it is cold, but I am contained and protected within this circle of light. A single pinprick among the shadows and under the stars.

I will come out again when it is light, and it will be easy to find my way. I will laugh at my meandering trail, noting how far off the mark I was.

But it will not be the same without candlelight, and I will miss the dancing yellow circle around me. I will miss the pinprick stars above me, and the solitude of this night. I will miss the dark.