Night's Gravitational Pull
We set out on a midnight walk through the neighborhoods of the desert town where we both were staying – a chance encounter that made the evening seem full of possibilities. We were both writers and researchers with many areas in common that gave way to extended discussions, tangents and note taking. Anything could happen between the mediated layers of navigating the territory and the warm soft evening ahead of us. She was headed for the tropics but got waylaid – caught in a sandstorm, a rainstorm, a mud storm, a maelstrom. “He went to the desert to learn about water.” The curved pathways of their wanderings created a series of reveals that now unfold before them on their journey.
My friend, also a musician, hears the phasing periodicity of crickets, tree frogs and cicadas as they sing their nighttime songs. We stand under a tree for the longest time, enchanted by the chorus of multiple phase shifts and patterns. It becomes the perfect soundtrack for this flipbook of images spinning out from the silent movie of our passage.
We are walking along arm in arm when suddenly a lawn sprinkler on a timer goes off just as we intersect the outer perimeter of its range. It is an apparent random event but the timing is so uncanny, it almost seems as if we have triggered a motion sensor. The sprinkler produces a localized, drenching rain through which we run for dry cover.
Bushes and trees have been brought to the desert and planted everywhere in unusual places. We comment on all the small trees right next to the sidewalk where we are walking that force us into the silent, empty streets. We identify as many of the plant specimens as we can, both evergreen and deciduous.
Turning the corner, we encounter a beautiful speedboat on a trailer parked in the driveway of a suburban home. A pool of light bathes the sleeping boat, illuminating the smooth contours of its perfectly white hull and the porthole-eye of its cabin. It is a sleek dolphin frozen in mid-air, ready to wake up at any moment to dive and play in the water that is now absent from this place.
We continue meandering through different ambient fields of spectral energy that illuminate our way – hazy green, cool blue, burnt orange and saturated yellow. Overhead light filters through the trees, giving an eerie glow to the spongy carpet of grass that both looks and feels fake under our feet.
We head back to Rocking Palette Ranch where we are staying and sleep outdoors under the stars. The intoxicating scent of datura, nicotiana and other nocturnal flowers fills the air giving us sweet dreams.
The next morning I awoke with a start to discover that my friend was gone and that a huge sphinx moth had landed on my cheek and was still sleeping there. At first I thought I was still dreaming, but once I had recovered my senses, I gently brushed it away, sending it off into the warm air of the sunlit morning.