I set an alarm for just before sunrise. I’d envisioned us rolling out of the van, bundled in layers, setting up our folding chairs and then settling in for the display. I pictured gloved hands clasping hot drinks, cheeks red with cold, noses peeking out from scarves. However, before I could share my idea, Ducky pointed out we could simply throw open the side bay doors and take in the view from there.
Huddled in our sleeping bags, me up on the bench seat and Ducky on the floor with the dog, we watched as the sky began to gently branch out with faint pale yellows. The soft rays playfully wove themselves within dull grey clouds, transforming dull eggshell sky into wakeful robin blue.
There came a burst of gold. A bridal train of bold rose accompanied the surreal glow, symbolizing a marriage of light and shadow over the desert. An unequal union: the former was clearly dominant, pushing out the latter like a shrewish housewife.
These bright shades quickly faded to a dusky pink, tangerine and sunflower hues gentling into smoke and ivory. The atmosphere again settled to dun and the landscape faded to a winter palette of olive and brown. Not a hint remained of the show we had witnessed.
Ducky went back to sleep. I stayed awake, determined to get coffee using the last few gasps of my propane-fueled mini stove. There was much pleading. “Come on just get the water to a boil and then die!”
My instant coffee was prepared with semi-hot water, questionably spoiling milk, and buckets of raw sugar to mask the taste.
I sat at our table (what would turn out to be the second of three separate campsites during our stay,) and watched as a jackrabbit hopped by barely six feet away.
He paused in front of me, and we had a moment. “Are you a predator?” “Yes. But a fat, lazy, industrialized one.” He clearly considered me harmless and hopped away languorously.
After he moved out to sight, there came a moment here of near-perfect stillness. The only sound I could hear was from a bloke making his morning brew a few sites away. I glanced over and he nodded, clearly not interested in breaking the silence either.
This was a necessary hour.
I need nature as much as my daily medication. They are equal partners in the dance that helps me remain myself. I had been aching and soul-weary. Now I am refreshed and renewed. Would that all days could begin this way.