Sunday, October 10, 2010

Stars - Big Bend National Park

I have just settled into my chair having first dowsed myself with water. The dry desert breeze cools me as if I were in a foggy Redwood forest somewhere in the far Northwest. Taking the Old Ore Road , I am camping on a ridge from which I can overlook much of the Chisos to the South, water eroded canyons, mesas and arroyo. Cactus of all varieties, creosote and mesquite compose most of the vegetation here. Bugs – my chocolate lab- pants from the heat but has chosen not to cooperate with the cool water bath.

The campsite has been visited recently by Javelina as their hoofs have left their mark everywhere – rocky washes tracked like a highway with deep paths and crossroads. My tripod sits in the sun in wait of night – just now tossed by a dust devil whipping across the road. And when the shadows get longer, I will venture out into the landscape and see what there is to see. Not more than an hour ago, I spied a spectacular iridescent purple coach whip crossing the road – fast as lightning – hard to catch and to photograph, but a strikingly beautiful snake.

I left home yesterday to enjoy a bit of solitary time – to see the starlit skies of Fall without a phone, a television or dilemma of any kind. The magnitude of my worries amount to whether a predicted cool front will make it here tonight, and whether I can eat a can of beanie weenies without a fork. It is still warm enough for vipers to be out and about. I will watch my footing. The atmosphere is particularly clear right now and night time radiant cooling has been as much as 50 degrees. I imagine that by sunrise, it will be well into the 40’s. Not a sound at the moment. Crickets – but not a breath of air.

Although I plan to be here for a number of days, I will return tomorrow to Sanderson for their annual Pachanga – bid on a few things at auction, listen to music, enjoy a dinner – and then attend the town dance. Joe Forks, a herpetologist from Marathon will be in doing a talk on regional snakes. Then it will be back to the silence and the wild.

It is night now and the sky is brilliant with stars. It is so bright, you can see the ground by starlight alone. I have finished my shots – sitting in a chair near a lantern. I can hear the Javelina running in the canyon below. Coyote are beginning to howl in the distance. Bugs has taken refuge in the car. Having looked at the images I just finished, it was among the first taken that I like the best – just the slightest hint of dusk remaining in the sky – the milky way – and one shooting star captured by accident.

I ate my can of beanie weenies with a flat head screwdriver. It’s starting to get cold now. The daylight will be here soon enough.

At sunrise I had two Tecate’s for breakfast and shot the sunrise. I’ve made my way to Sanderson. Joe Forks – a fellow photographer as well his talk on local varieties of both venomous and non-venous snakes. It seems the Monarchs are in migration as well – a pod, or clan, or covey resting at the Sanderson Courthouse. The Border Patrol guys are running the BBQ and playing horseshoes.

I hear there is one place in town with the Internet. I will sit in the driveway of said place and try and send this off. If you see it, you will know that I have been successful.

Carl Deal

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