The lights started coming back slowly at first–a twinkle from the school here, the flicker of a neighbor’s television or backyard spot there. But with the winds of the last couple of weeks, they’ve rushed back into view. Now they’re unmistakable.

The trees, the deciduous ones at least, are dormant now–even the poplars, this year’s holdouts, have let go of their leaves. They are done shielding us from indications that just beyond the woods behind us there are a thousand houses, and just beyond them–up that big hill that used to lead to the chapel at New Hope–a whole teeming town.

Now, each night we can see the yellow sulfur-vapor tones that mark the edge of the school parking lot, the angle of a church steeple dotted with blue and the whole mass of neighbors doing whatever it is they do behind those windows that pour light onto their backyards.

It’s not going to last, though, thanks to our arboreal friends. Last spring, I watched the lights, and the villages to the north, slowly fade away as if each night fewer and fewer of them were turned on. Now the leaves that painted out traces of civilization are turning, falling and revealing what in spring and summer they so elegantly obscured.

I’ve never needed an excuse to be a tree hugger, but if I did this would surely be a good one.

Rest up, friends. Spring is just around the corner. And then, thank goodness, it’ll be lights out.