Saturday, March 15, 2014

Alone III

Continued from the preceding post

There is something about being alone in the desert. As I said in an earlier posting, sometimes I had company when wandering the desert and sometimes not.  Traveling with a companion seems to fill those spaces in our spirit where we may not go very often.  But the doors to those spaces are open when you are alone. When you can see to the horizon where no structures and no indication of human occupancy or industry mar the view, you are alone. Where there is no other obvious animal life but a bird flitting across the dirt track you are driving on or a feral horse or burro standing on a low ridge in the distance, you are alone. I have often wondered if my observations were more acute and my science more precise when I was with others in the desert or alone.

One day a group of us were in Ash Meadows visiting with a ‘desert rat’ who had an old trailer there.  He was actually an engineer who treasured the solitude of the desert and who withdrew to his trailer and shade tree whenever possible.  This was the day that we heard that the US Congress had appropriated the funds necessary for the government to purchase Ash Meadows as an addition to the National Wildlife Refuge System.  I was surprised at how mixed my feelings were.  On the one hand, I was exceptionally pleased that the rich biodiversity would finally have lasting protection from the threat of exploitation or developers and agriculturists that had, for so long,  hung like the Sword of Damocles over this precious resource, this laboratory of evolution and biodiversity. On the other hand, I realized that the edgy days I had so enjoyed had come to an end.  Shortly after the purchase I left Nevada for another kind of desert…a desert of the spirit known as Washington, DC.