I am constantly amazed at how resilient we humans are - and yet so fragile. How beautifully contradictory.
As the boyf was out of of town, I decided to take the opportunity to spend some quality time in the desert at LoriLisa, my little scrap of Mojave wasteland. I knew it was going to be hot: 90+ degree hot, but I was not dismayed. My plan was to work in the evenings and mornings and lay low during the hot afternoon.
I headed out early afternoon on Friday in time to arrive for a spectacular combination sunset and moon rise. Truly only planetary bodies can compete with the expansive geological scale of the desert. Mountain ranges eroded into prehistoric effluvial plains. It was over one of these ranges a blue-ivory moon rose from the desert haze. I was racing the clock. Flooring the pedal that flogged my combustion engine faster. I could not reach my destination fast enough.
Behind me the I saw the red-orange rays of the sun setting behind a past range. In a moment, the pavement gave way to sand and my tires kicked up a line of dust as I headed to the far edge of this sparsely populated civilization. We were bumping and jumping through the washes and fish-tailed the back tires a bit just for fun.
The tires stopped, the radio silent, I stepped out into the cooling desert.
* * *
We sat in my front yard, splayed out on a retired bedspread watching the planets shine and the moon rise, getting smaller and whiter as the night progressed. That's when the coyote's started their howling. I had forgotten to pack my pistol and had only my small knife on me. When packing for the trip, I had considered exit strategies for mere human (redneck/meth-head) predators - and had completely forgotten about natural ones. It was a lesson in city living. It's gotten to me. I felt tamed.
Out in these places I have heard the lone or two coyotes calling out his brethren, often far far in the distance. Not this time. This was a large pack - I would expect at least 7 or more. And it sounded VERY near. Intertwined with the coyote's barks and howls, I could hear a dog. It was easy to hear the difference. I expected the pack to visit LL any moment. For hours the coyotes barked in the near-distance. We watched and listened to the desert, no safety of the firelight. (I had opted against a fire because the moon was so bright.)
The planet set and the moon carved an ecliptic pathway across the sky, outshining the milky way and all but the brightest stars. The howling subsided and that's when I noticed the strange rasping sound of the wind in the creosote bushes. My vision was shifting and everything took on an underwater illuminated pointillism.
Moonshadows lept from my fence posts, my house, my legs. I was not quite brave enough to do my midnight walkabout - one of my plans for the evening - with that pack of coyotes and my pistol left at home. So I strayed not far from my land.
The wind caressed my skin - soft warm and comforting. The upside of an unbearable desert day is a warm night. What does one do out here, I pondered? What can one do, but watch and think and see and listen and be silent. To be present. To feel the wind. To see the moon shadows. To hear the coyotes. To smell the air. To taste fear and comfort. To be present in the moment for hours.
I usually keep a cliff bar in my bag in case I'm stuck in traffic, the office, on the way to the gym and realize I'm hungry. More than once I realize once I'm off to the gym and haven't eaten my body says, "I want food." So the cliff bars stashed in my bag do the job.
Enter the dog. Mr Romeo, the Puppernutter was initially a fan of the cliff bars. He likes peanut butter. He likes chocolate. At home alone, he invented the game of finding the cliff bar in whichever bag was left at home. He would then proceed to rip the packaging to shreds and eat it. I'd come home to a mess and a sorry dog.
Later, Mr Romeo, unable to find the cliffbars in my bags (I stopped leaving them around) would dig out bits of old candy - chocolates - and destroy those. I'd come home and have the heart attack while he would be smiling and wagging his tail sheepishly. So all the chocolates went up on the counters. But Mr Romeo is relentless. He would sniff out the chocolate locations and jump up to four feet high to get his favorite secret (and bad for him) treat. After eating an entire chocolate orange he took from a 4 feet dresser, I had to do something. The chocolate went into hiding, so even if he could jump up 5 feet, he still did not have opposable thumbs.
He likes to remind me though. I'll find cliff bars that he's dug up from one bag or mine or another and puts them in his "kill" pile. But they are no longer opened. I guess all those chocolate bon bons spoiled him.
ps. yes, I know chocolate is bad for the dog. I have never personally given him chocolate - all the chocolate this dog has consumed has been through his own ingeniousness and skill.