I’ve been thinking recently about a person I traveled with some years ago, on buses and old turboprops around Kazakhstan. It was January and we traveled for several weeks, and in my memory we were never able to get warm. She was blind, or nearly so. Her eyes had no lenses, she could see only light and shadow. She carried a small magnifying glass and with this she was able to focus on shapes. She had acquired the magnifier as an adult, and was learning to understand what she was seeing image by image. For instance, she was able to see photos of her daughter, but could not read the expressions on her face. She carried photos of her around everywhere, and showed them to people we met, taking on faith that her daughter was cheerful and smiling in the pictures. During the time that we traveled together, to Shymkent, Aktau, Pavlodar, Semipalatinsk and other cities in Kazakhstan, along icy roads and in long, cold waits in bus stations and airports, we explored the difference between icicles and lamp posts, lamp posts and radio towers, streetlights and the full moon.