It was a dark and stormy night The snow was falling in blankets A fire burning in the fireplace as we bundled against the cold. All the windows closed and shades drawn against the drafts. Hot cider to keep away the chill A thick stew of venison and what root vegetables were left in the cellar was our only comfort. The only company for our lost souls was each other. We wondered how long it would be before we were able to get out to check on the neighbors. The livestock huddled together in the under-croft. The dried herbs hanging from the ceiling made us long for the balmy days of summer. Our only image of the outside world, a barren snow covered landscape. We were serenaded by the sound of howling wolves hunting for their next meal. All around there was no sign of hope or spring.