The halo of red brake lights cast a glow over the sagebrush. The sound of the motor chocked off the canyon walls as I shut it off. Silence and darkness fell over the interior of the cab. It was only for a moment though as my eyes adjusted to the electricity of the stars wheeling overhead. These far points of light are the landscape we trade our terrestrial one for at sundown here. They are a blaze of interchanging bodies that writhe over this rumpled hat of dark rock. I wake deep in the night and the inky lanterned display has been traded for the silver light of the moon. An owl murmurs in a distant cliff face. At this late hour another set of eyes scans this land where it spills out of the canyon. The muted tones of the valley floor suggest something fleeting and nearly lost to us daily. To encounter your own shadow in moonlight is like seeing a secret part of your being. The whisper of summer night air is punctuated by circumnavigating groups of coyotes and large fluttering moths.
Around noon, the desert sun is torching overhead. The mid day heat is intensified by the endless breath of cicadas. The world here is a bright edge of tan and brown and the blue sky is a vault of never ending structure. My footsteps loosened small pieces of basalt that push against the impervious heat with porcelain clatter. I spot a shining something in the dry brush. It glimmers hotly and I move towards it to take a look. Along the way I spot other things. A deep cycle battery, its black casing buckled and cracked. Shotgun shells oxidized from red to within an inch of pale. A cooler top. The rest of the cooler further on, the empty beer bottles spilled out in a final fit of refreshment. The bakelight shards of clay pigeons litter the ground all about. Aggregate soil crunches metallically underfoot as I reach my destination. On the ground sits an old glass insulator. Tossed out by a lineman years ago, it has sat here only serving to stain the grey soil with a spot of blue light when the sunlight falls through it. The service of this object would've seen the advent of electricity pushing out into this wilderness as someone threw a toggle and transformed the desert to a human mechanism. I pick the insulator up and my pulse quickens with the sense of discovery. Its weight and shape are satisfying in my hand, though it is nearly too hot to touch. Turning it over and over, I commit it to memory for now its currency is tied up in other's delight for this discovery, for the otherworldly light it bleeds onto the dust.
The sun is angled low in the west now and the cooling land has begun to release its smells. They are wonderful in this desiccated place. The humidity of sage and a few Russian Olive trees in the draw below flows by. The breeze carries an ounce or two of pungent skunk spray. The odor reminds me of rusty cars shot full of holes and lonely wind. I watch as my canyon turns from amber to purple and back into the passing of night's ship.