It had been warming for several days. Sunny. Comfortable outside. He had driven to town yesterday with the truck windows open, with the radio turned up loud, as he might have done on a summer night. His heavy coat was too hot. In the sunlight he was warm in his shirtsleeves.
He woke up again, his heart alight, hoping for another sunny day. The light through the curtains was muted. He opened them and saw a dense fog had settled over the farm, a thick curtain beyond the sheds. The trees in the shelterbelt surrounding the house were soft shadows, visible and then invisible.
The air outside is heavy and damp as he steps out the back door. It has frozen overnight, but only just. The puddles in the drive are topped by a thin sheet of ice, crisscrossed by cracks, a shattered pane of glass, reflecting up the bland siding of the house, the still-barren limbs of the ash tree towering over it. He taps his toes on the ice, cracking it further, sending ripples through the reflections. Water drips from the drainpipe running the height of the house behind him.
He walks to the truck, then decides on the bike. He walks it down the driveway, down to the mailbox. He kicks it off and heads down the road. At first he can see only the belt of trees surrounding the farmstead, and then nothing but the gravelly road, the near ends of the stubbly field, with scattered sheets of snow. The world evaporates into gray nothing only a hundred feet away from him. The moisture in the air seems to fill his ears with a void of sound. The bicycle clatters over pebbles in the road. In the murk he hears birds, a flicker, maybe, and a flight of geese. Ghost sounds from the nothingness. He hears a truck, too, and cannot tell where it is, if it is on his road. He slows and listens. It passes, distant. It must be on the east-west highway. The sound fades and the hidden prairie is quiet again.