It’s the kind of eerie darkness outside that smacks of alternate realities. The true night sky is pitch black. Stars are scarce and the moon nothing more than a slender curve. I know intuitively that it should be blindingly dark outside and yet it’s not. Clouds carry spare rays of sunlight from somewhere far to the west, casting a dismal glow over the snow and trees. It’s not enough, though. I want to see better than I can. My mind is playing tricks on me. My eyes see the light from the gray clouds, but my brain processes only the deep ebony of a moonless night. I feel as though I am in another place, far away from anywhere I’ve ever been. Night isn’t night but isn’t day. It isn’t cold but the air pierces my lungs. I am exhausted but in the darkness-non-darkness I am alert and I feel alive. It is meditative, it is ethereal. I’m somewhere in limbo, in the purgatory of winter nights.