1 The trio of hunters have come home emptyhanded-- but for longpoles. Their hounds, lean and unsentimental, sniff in vain for scent.
High above them a longtailed kite (a hunter too) circles in defeat.
It all seems so unfair: farbelow wellfed townspeople are snug beneath snowcapped christmascard rooves; some skate across ponds, a few icefish.
Of course, not all are so defiant: barely perceptible, an old man or woman (it hardly matters which), bent with a load of firewood, crosses an icy bridge.
2 In the foreground a grogshop, whose dangling sign is the season's latest victim; outside, an open fire is fed by cook and two assistants.
The long hunters (and their dogs) are too far gone to notice . . . but drag themselves in frozen leggings to their own hearths.
copyright 2001 Phoebe Claire Publishing, LLC All rights reserved