Cold and clear.

It's still not that cold here, honestly, but today was the day we all bundled up to go out and then, having returned from our various destinations, groaned a little about the weather. Today was the first day it felt bitingly cold, the wind whipping into town and chafing cheeks red. (Apparently there's an old Cambridge joke about how the east wind is particularly deadly here because it comes straight from the Ural Mountains. "Straight?" I asked my friend when he told me this back in September. "As in, bypassing Poland and Germany and, you know, Scandinavia?" Straight from the North Sea, on the other hand -- that much is true.) Today was the day when it would have been stupid to go out without one's hat.

Today, in fact, it was cold enough that when I dressed for a carol service at St. John's College's chapel, I put on extra layers, knowing deep down that it would be exquisitely cold even inside the chapel. (I spent some time in St. Botolph's Church on Friday, another day when it wasn't really all that cold outside, and I could see my breath the whole time I was there.) And indeed, by the time the boys were soaring through Britten's Ceremony of Carols, and by the time the harpist was thrumming over my heartstrings, I was grateful for all the warm knits in which I was wrapped.

But when the choir reached its third verse of "Silent Night" and changed over to German--stille nacht! heilege nacht!--the chills that coursed down my spine had nothing to do with the cold.

Everything feels like a preparation these days.

Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh.

Six days!