The deserted mill was long ago reduced to heaps of rubble and broken rebar. Cracked grasses obscure abandoned construction tools. There is a path alongside, hint of the development that will overthrow and then landscape these acres as soon as the Economy turns around and men resume their habit of expanding. There is only a little faroff morning traffic, and the air is motionless—but for a bit of steam rising. Two unobtrusive mounds, each the width of a truck and the length of two, are tarped in green plastic, weighted with stones. Between the seams, still the steam is rising. These two could be mistaken for smoldering piles of leaves, but for a passage of cut plywood, like the door to an igloo, and for a smell riding on the steam, unnameable but suggestive of southern states, of dampness, of childhood hideouts. The dog walkers do not notice, though the dogs do: this desert has a fruit, and a flower. This desert has a purpose; this wasteland is home.

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