The Long Night was cold. Of course, when the sun barely peeks over the horizon, it never gets warm, but this year, it was particularly cold. The elders always talked about how the long nights were getting colder, as their elders had when they were young, probably going back generations. But now, even the young people were starting to take notice.
At first they just slept closer together. Then they started sleeping closer to the cooking fire. When people started keeping the fire going even after the cooking was done, the elders became concerned. They held a meeting of the tribe. "We must remember that wood is a gift from our Earth Mother", exhorted Nald, one of the oldest members of the tribe. "We do not want to foolishly use up more than She gives, like our distant ancestors did. We have been using the same amount for cooking for generations without diminishing our supply, but if we start using it to keep warm, we may run out."
"Does anyone have any other ideas for keeping warm?" asked Nythia, a woman just a few years younger than Nald.
"We could make blankets out of rabbit skins," chimed in Lek, a young man who had just completed the rite of passage last year.
"Definitely a better idea than burning extra wood, but we still have to be careful about not taking too many rabbits," replied Nald.
They tried hard to come up with better ideas, but decided they were getting nowhere, and agreed to think about it for the night.
Rol roused everyone the next morning. It was a special day, the halfway point between the Shortest Day and the Day of Equals. This was the coldest morning anyone could remember. It was Rol's turn to fetch water from the river, but he came running back, empty-handed.
"Come quick! You need to see this!," Rol screamed. "I don't know what to do. The river is solid!"