Winter. After his last trip, Santa Claus has not returned straight to the North Pole. Instead, he’s pulled up his sledge next to a creek that’s beginning to ice over. In the small hours, a beaver busies itself with a dam, a wren creeps across the forest floor, hops on a log and rehearses a morning melody. Up in a tree, a white owl opens one eye, winks at Santa, closes it, opens the other and winks again, a Morse code of sorts. Santa smiles like a happily landed sailor. Lately, he’s felt more at home among these creatures than in the bustling buildings of elf haven or the crazed cities of the Eastern and the Western World. When he wants to sleep, he goes to Antarctica, but he comes here to chill. The water whines between cold stones, unwilling to stand still yet. Santa’s caribou wheeze to let him know that it’s time to get a move on. The grand old daddy turns his head up at the lady in the moon, his love above the skies. Suddenly, snow petals fall everywhere. It’s quiet above and below the water line. Even the fish keep themselves in suspense while winter reigns. Santa howls. Somewhere, a wolf answers.