Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wolf Flats

Standing at the fire shortly after midnight, watching the glow from the not-yet-visible moon shine from behind the cliffs, I felt at peace.

Wind blew through the branches of the cottonwood trees, sending the seed flying like dimmed fireflies through the glow of the campfire coals. The cliffs, one red and tan, the other black under the sun, were mere shapes, silhouettes as the moon rose behind them. Opposite, enough moonglow fell on the cliffs to illuminate, slightly, juniper and sage brush, a barbed wire fence line.

Overhead, an owl screeched. Bats flew by, shrieking and squeaking. The sky was a tumult of wind and invisible wings and cries and wind and stars obscured by a thin laryer of cloud and everywhere the moonshine growing brighter even though a quarter hour later the moon still lay hidden behind the cliffs, standing out black against the milky grey sky.

The last rays of the sun disappeared only two hours earlier, fighting the earth's rotation, fighting the dark of the night with a streak that went from blue to gray to white, then to nothing. But at midnight with the moon rising, it felt almost brighter than when the sun was high, everything -- trees, cliffs, leaves, branches, birds, calls, cries, screeches brightly lit even though the only light was that of the not-yet-risen moon and the glow of the red coals in the fire pit. It was a circle of hell that felt divine, visited by angels when the headlights of a vehicle rumbling on the gravel road cut through the bright ethereal gloom to stab beams of light through the regreened trees.

I went back to sleep.

Then came the skunk fight. I believe it was skunks. I hope it was skunks as I thought of the other possibilities: bobcat fight, badger fight, bumfight, aliens, housecats. Whatever it was screamed and yowled. I still felt safe, hiding under my Winnie the Pooh blanket in the tent under the cottonwoods.

PS: Yes, we did make it camping, despite all the problems. We got propane. We got a new battery -- that brought on a new problem, a weird clicking sound in the interior of the camper, but I fixed that after figuring out I had the battery wires crossed. Then on the way out of town the canopy, rolled up and strapped to the side of the camper, fell -- due to rotted straps -- and crashed onto the road. We picked up the sad remains, took them home, and went on our way.

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