Across the creek this morning before sunup, the neighbor’s dogs woke me with their snarling. A skein of geese over the golf course made a hell of a racket, too. They can’t decide whether to fly south or north. Who can blame them for not knowing whether it’s time? This weather is crazy. Who knows what it augurs? If we’re lucky, a mere half-decade of bad luck. Maybe we don’t have so long as that. But enough of that for now. In the capitol, trumpets have been polished till their bells shine like scimitars, been nestled into in their cases, where they sleep in velvet till their blessed tomorrow. Tomorrow the codes pass hands. Tomorrow the job begins. We each must judge which way we’re meant to go. Which undefended hill we’re meant to man. Perhaps last week he did sleep in the Winter Palace, writing on looseleaf paper a string of words to inaugurate the new thing. I look out toward Bear Wallow. Very well, then. I see the lights of the town below us. I turn and look the other way, farther toward Sugarloaf. A few thin and isolated clusters of life twinkling faintly in the valley. Everyone close to his home fires this evening. None of the usual gunfire. Some days we hear semi-automatics through the woods. “Do you know how much those bullets cost?” asks my father. Each quick rattling burst equals a cold six-pack, he insists, in the injured voice of a bookkeeper trying to balance the ledger.