I project my emotions onto the landscape. Some days the dry American West is harsh, naked rock – not even unforgiving, but lifeless, inert – a monolith with a billion-year history that mocks our insignificance.

Other days, it’s the tawny hide of a mountain lion, taut and rippling. I can feel its pulse through my feet, smell its breath near the ground. It is magnificent, and we are a part of it.

Most of the time, though, it’s neither. I hardly see past TV and street signs to the scrub grass, dry clay and rock. It’s only at day’s end – when we all burn low – that I find it again in a vacant lot.