THE POND OUT back had settled into mirror-flatness. The clouds were full of spectacular zigzags and ripples and curlicues while pale sharp light fell through them onto the flatness of gun shops, a check cashing place, shopping plazas full of vacancies, a field of gutted trailer homes. Cars were lined up all the way out of the Starbucks lot but the tables outside the door were abandoned and free for an outdoor lunch, during which fingers grew cold and shivering set in. Further south, the land turned pastoral: grain elevators in the distance, warm white barns, sun glinting on cornfield stubble. A red-tailed hawk sat upright in a tree by the highway. The sunset was striking but mostly colorless.