A light rain patters the outside of the cabin. Grateful for the moisture, as I am living and working deep in the desert for the next few months. The birds occasionally twitter outside, but mostly the precipitation is the only sound for many miles.
In a world where deserts consume, the rain is never a bad thing. In a couple of months, it will be getting warm, and I’ll yearn for the cool, wet days. I look at the hills that line the valley, a dusting of snow showing on their tops. I wonder what the elk are doing nestled in the shadows of the pine trees. Do they sleep on stormy days, or do they move to keep warm?
I jog out and back on the road, anywhere else would be too muddy to run. The cows trot off as I get near, but stop as they realize I’m not chasing them, but just another animal passing by. A hawk swoops along the top of the sagebrush, hunting something out of sight. I see it later perched in the skeleton of a juniper, having apparently snagged itself a snack.
My work routine is pretty simple out here, and I feel very grateful for the opportunity to experience my own version of “Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness,” not so unlike Edward Abbey.
I wake early, having to pee before I can even make my coffee. I step out of my cabin and gasp. Rather than the cloudy skies of late, it’s crystal clear and the full moon hangs suspended magically over the valley. It’s almost as if it’s going to set down right in front of me. My shadow is cast long in the amazingly bright light. An owl hoots softly on the hillside.
There could be a time not so far in the future when this area is too hot and too dry to be in. When you can only hike for as long as the amount of water you can carry on your back. We exist in a delicate balance, one that can only be seen in some ways when you strip away the peripheral obligations of society. Food, water, and shelter are still the necessities of life.
The sun is out, and it feels warm and welcoming after the rain. The animals are more lively too, having tucked themselves in the past few days. I head out my door, camping for a couple nights beneath the starry sky, next to some potholes plum full of water.
For now, I enjoy this space and this freedom to roam. It’s never guaranteed to any of us at any moment and when you have it you have to savor it — it won’t last forever. To be honest, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
Call for Comments
Does time in nature and solitude appeal to you also?