Children on Christmas morning.The previous night’s snow had coated the forest with foot-deep powder, silencing the footsteps of the three hunters – my brother and I and our father, in the annual quest for a Christmas tree. It was like being in a sound-proofed studio – that weird, echoless sensation of walking alone in an enchanted world.

“Look at this one, Daddy,” my brother exclaimed.

“Shake the snow off it and let’s see,” the elder replied.

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