WARSAW, Poland -- I am writing this just before midnight Tuesday at my home in central Warsaw.
It was a little more than two weeks ago, just at this hour, that communication lines in Poland were cut and government security forces launched surprise raids on Solidarity union offices around the country, heralding the imposition of martial law.
I remember feeling utter shock as I rushed to Solidarity headquarters and found the street blocked at both ends by police trucks and lined with steel-helmeted, shield-carrying riot police.
Tonight, the big traffic circle six floors below my window is empty, except for the patrol of soldiers warming themselves over an orange coal fire against the night.
Nothing is moving as far as I can see along Marszalkowska Street, the city's main boulevard.
After the nightly curfew begins at 11 p.m, only occasional police and military vehicles pass or convoys of snowplows with orange lights flashing. Wednesday: The curfew, communications blackout, closing of theaters, cinemas and the like have changed people's social habits.
Friends and neighbors feel free to drop in on each other at all hours of the day. I feel as if I have seen and spent more time with more friends in the past couple of weeks than at any time before.
The one night since martial that curfew was lifted was Christmas Eve, in order to allow people to attend midnight Mass.
People have brought sleeping bags to the gatherings I have attended during martial law, spending the night in adult slumber parties.
Family members were allowed over the Christmas holiday to visit the thousands of Solidarity activists, dissidents and intellecutals who have been interned in Warsaw.
Their reports, as well as letters received from internees elsewhere in the country, tend to confirm government spokesman Jerzy Urban's assertion at a news conference Tuesday that they are held under good conditions.
The visits and the letters indicate such prominent figures as Adam Michnik, Jan Litynski, Andrzej Gwiazda, Janusz Onyszkiewicz, Jan Rulewski, Krzysztof Sliwinski and others are in good spirits.
They are eating good food, which they can cook themselves, and are kept in open accommodations allowing them to meet and talk with each other. Occasionally they go outdoors and build snowmen.
The visitors and letters say they get regular exercise and have access to a chapel.
The internees have organized discussion groups, courses and singing groups to occupy their time. One complaint was that prison libraries were too small and bedtime is too early.
None of the internees is charged with a crime. Urban stressed that internment was meant to 'isolate' them and was not a prison term for a specific crime.
For those 'arrested,' it is different. They are liable to court-martial, subject to stiff sentences and definite prison terms. No length of time has been specified for the internees' detention.
Solidarity leader Lech Walesa is neither interned nor arrested. He is confined to quarters somewhere in the Warsaw area and has had regular contact with his family, his priest from Gdansk and other clergymen.
Soldiers and police on streets are commonplace. Their gray and olive green uniforms and military vehicles blend in with grey snow melting in a sudden thaw. Few armored personnel carriers are seen in the city now.
Warsaw was brightened this week by new red, blue, green and black posters -- hung to replace Solidarity posters that have been scraped from walls and billboards.
The new posters urge discipline and cooperation with military authorities and a war on black marketeering.