It had begun to snow as she slept. Copper propped herself up on her elbows and peered through the window, through a crack she created between the window-opening and the hanging insulating hides. She was careful to try and block as much of the cold as she could from getting past her inside to her family's warm den. The sky outside was a bright, pale grey the color of a mourning dove's wing; big, feathery flakes continued to sift down out of it, appearing as if from nowhere through the winter-bare branches of the trees.
Copper loved the winter. She did not love the cold — but she loved being bundled up in layers of furs, and the white-on-grey rosette spots of her favorite snowcat-fur coat. She loved the silence that settled on the forest during a gentle snowfall; she loved the crunch of soft powder under her feet. She loved being the first to make her way across pristine snow, for those moments when it looked as though she were the only creature alive in the world. She loved following the tracks of a smaller creature across the snow — the skipping tracks of a mouse, the flitting here-not-here of a bird, or the explosive leap and burrowing-crash of a fox. She loved finding footprints left by other members of the tribe, and trying to identify whose boots had left the prints. She loved making clouds with her breath. She loved the near-whisper of a single snowflake as it settled, and the cold kiss when one melted against the exposed skin of her face. There was a faint taste and smell of snow that was like nothing else in the world — and it was all the more precious because of its fragility. Snow could pile up and compact and crust over in sharp ice, but it was all temporary. It would always melt, someday soon.
Someday, Copper would get to travel north. She dreamed of that, sometimes. Going north with her mother or with her father, on and on past the edge of the forest. Out onto the rolling steppes, and then even farther, to where the great walls of ice rose up like mountain cliffs. She dreamed of those distant walls, sometimes. She dreamed of looking into the face of a glacier. In those dreams, she never knew whose eyes would be reflected back at her. Her own, maybe... but often as not, they were eyes that were emerald-green, or ice-blue, or a brown so dark they were nearly black.
Copper's waking mind skittered away from the queasy memory of the last such dream. She snaked an arm out of the window-hide, out into the falling snow, and waited for a snowflake to drift down and settle in the patient palm of her hand.