He wore a mask over his mouth, his nose, strings looping over each ear that couldn’t hide the quiet desperation in his soul, could not filter out ash and dust, not the burned-over fields of radish, of asparagus, of peppermint. The image of the calf, dead in the river bed, flashed across his eyes again as he approached the foundational remains, concrete that looked like that pan of brownies, forgotten in the oven until the screeching smoke-detector served as the un-set kitchen timer. Burned-brownie cement. A hollow, howling wind raced over the blackened landscape where, a year before, geraniums had grown among the weeds. Her image winked into view, bitter as the taste of wet creosote that burned his nostrils, in spite of the humidity in the mask. How she hated the weeds; they represented all that was disorderly in her neglected childhood. Each thistle that she pulled was a victory over the stench of unwashed clothes and dirty dishes piled, days old, in the sink. His eyes swept the remains of their carefully tended yard, crumpled shards of pottery and their melted life in this pioneer land. The sweat of their combined struggles trickled down his temples in spite of the cool March breeze. He could not, refused to shiver in the face of the finality of all that he beheld. Like looking through a view-finder, it wasn’t his, it wasn’t real; only a documentary film of someone else’s misfortune. His ears strained for the sound of the neighbor’s dog, that incessant bark that drove him wild, now silent, like her voice. He turned and walked the road back.