I am at a bus stop on a Friday afternoon. It is 25°C (77°F), and the sun is too bright for me to be able to look up at anything. It takes at least a month after spring thaw for my eyes to become accustomed to a high sun. When I do look up, it is only to catch bits and flashes: the white burst off car roofs, an opaque burning sky, and if I shade my eyes, the dark underbellies of trees.

I think about Costa Rica and how the sun didn't seem so harsh there. There were mountains and tall trees and valleys. There were different places that afforded different qualities of sunlight. Here, there is only a flat stretch of prairie occasionally broken by a copse of hand-planted trees. All the trees here are handplanted.

If not for humans, this would be an arid plain with rare flash floods. Its buffalo bones would still be here, bleached to the colour of new teeth. The Fun House across the street, once a joke shop, would not now stand abandoned with dusty molded plastic packaging coming unhinged from faded cardboard backs in the display window, hot pepper gum and finger traps falling from hooks and lying discarded among fly dirt. There would not be the Barber Shop with its perpetual "Closed" sign .

The sun sears my knees through my black velvet pants while an anxious thirst keeps my tongue stuck in my throat, and I silently curse the horses and trains that brought us here.

barbershop and funhouse