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The wind is a scalpel, slicing through every layer, flaying skin down to bone.

Snow hardens into rime, the kind that crunches underfoot, too loud for the day but barely heard in the gale.

Remnant tire tracks rise curving up into the air, broken edges like the fossilized vertebrae of some ancient beast.

This is winter at its most savage, so cold even Coyote spurns the prospect of a stolen meal.

And then, coming into view around the corner, gold:

A pair of leaves too stubborn for the snow, too wily for the wind.

Leaves, here long past their expiration date, golden ornaments on the skeletal arms of a midwinter aspen.






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