The moon the past few nights, when we could see it at all, has been amazingly bright, like a humongous spotlight angling through the trees, casting stick shadows across my desk. The grass between my home and the woods is sparkling, as though a troop of elves has danced across the greensward scattering powdered diamonds.

A couple hundred yards away, an owl hoots, perhaps celebrating her having found dinner scurrying among the shadows. Deer wander through the woods. A friend calls to tell me she has found coyote sign – the more interesting because though I’ve heard stories of coyotes here, I’ve yet to see one.

Last month’s full moon was the Beaver Moon – so-called, according to the Old Farmers Almanac, because November is generally when the flat-tailed rodents are bedding down with their summer-stored supplies to wait for spring. November also is a profitable time for trappers to waylay the critters and relieve them of their winter-plush coats.

This month, on this lead-in to Christmas, the full moon is called the Cold Moon, for the Mohawk people’s recognition of the frigid temperatures they experienced. The OFA notes the Mohicans, residents of New York State near southern Vermont and western Massachusetts, called December’s Full moon the Long Night moon, referring to the long nights and short days soon to reverse roles. In a few days, the winter solstice will begin sunlight’s lengthening passage toward spring.

It is resting time in Earth’s Global North as the planets 23.5-degree tilt makes the sun appear to move in regular steps across the trees outside my window.

On the other hand, I am glad to live in a time of elves – a jolly old one who dresses in red and races around the globe distributing gifts to the planet’s inhabitants – and tribes of fair-haired ones who populate the woods, using fireflies to light their way. I have to believe they capture the fireflies on warm August evenings and store them away to power the shimmering waves of multi-colored banners for the long cold winter nights.

I enjoy watching the effects of our trip through the cosmos. To borrow a line from one of my favorite scientist-authors, Carl Sagan, “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies was made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff.”

To think that we are made of magical combinations of elements and molecules that have traveled millions of miles to arrive here in Adams County, a place where some 66 million years ago giant dinosaurs ended their 160-million-year bask in the sun, some of them leaving their footprints in the sandstone that covered what would become the eastern region of a sometimes loose consortium of states whose residents simultaneously profess unity and fought to be individually independent.

I wonder what the dinosaurs thought as they wandered about the wild lands. Humans are not the only species to stake out turf. Grizzly bears have been known to gobble humans and other creatures that invade their space. I wonder whether they thank any celestial being for sending them dinner.

But then, there are other questions of the season. How does one guy and a mere eight reindeer manage to visit every child in the world, even allowing for numerous changes of flying teams.

And why, by the way, is Summer Sausage available only in winter?

I wonder how many more questions we can list for our next letter to Santa. Please leave suggestions in the comments.