The sun setting over a frigid and snow-clad community was a signal to folk---animal or human---that it was time to scurry for home, warm hearths, and tasty stews. But it was also a symbol and a reminder of the setting of one season, and the advent of another.
It was a signal to settle in for the long winter to come---in burrows, nests, hollow trees, or clapboarded buildings---that were hopefully well-stocked with food and fuel.
Brief forays out into the darkness and cold added zest to the long waiting.But there was always the blessed fire and light on one's return---where one could warm one's toes, sip hot cider, and tell stories to pass the time.
And at the very end of the day, we hoped that for everyone---furred, feathered, scaled, or naked---there was a cozy bed, a goodnight hug, and comforting dreams of the return to light and warmth.