The ground was the colour of rust. Holes the size of half-dollars were everywhere, some encircled by tiny mounds of dirt. This was hard earth, nearly frozen. Dried-up leaves and spruce needles turned brown. A hush had befallen the land, as still as the inside of a coffin. Such quiet recalled a time before timber had framed houses and a church, before pluming hooked in hot and cold, before electricity snaked conduit. The trees slept. The creek was iced over.