The only promise in winter that mattered to me, in my youth, was Christmas. All thoughts, by November, turned to the day when all the secrets, locked up somewhere in our house, would be revealed. But when the warmth and glow of Christmas had faded, the night of winter would surround me. It seemed a famine of unending darkness and rain. The only thought then became of spring, when at last the rain would stop, the streets would dry, the sky would open up, and all the sins of winter would be confessed and absolved with the first sight of blue sky and the feeble yellow sunlight that signaled the longest night was finally over.