Sundown on the year.

A warm morning of cold rain, a drear end to a strange, changeful year. But then, near the end of the afternoon, the sun came out, just to sink through the scudding clouds and into our flooded fields with great beauty and extravagant austerity. The unwinding, the unspiraling, the repairing of this fatigue's fractures, will all take more time, and I fully anticipate some year-end inventorying to come. But for now, we sit with the fire and wait for the ball to drop. The deaf dog tries to sleep behind my right shoulder but keeps being awakened by people scratching her toes and pulling her ears, and by her sense that some smell somewhere (her nose twitches) portends something good still to eat--more cherry pie, perhaps? Emmylou Harris sings songs in silver cowboy boots. I look over the year's lists and wonder whether it's possible that I only read about 80 books this year. Surely that's too small a number. My father gets out the Asti, pours glasses for us all.

The pictures I'm giving you to close out 2006 come from a huge batch my father and I took during an drive out this evening to catch the year's last slants of light.

And now the ball. And now the new year.

Welcome to 2007, everyone.