Literally, I am sleeping on the basketball court. Twenty yards from my front door lies a concrete pad with a hoop and backboard. With my Therm-a-Rest (inflatable sleeping pad) and sleeping bag, it is every bit as comfortable as a bed… but the surroundings are orders of magnitude better than any bedroom.
Snuggling in at night, the last glow of the horizon fades from view as innumerable stars appear. I need a star chart, as constellations I never noticed are now my ceiling. Satellites orbit. Once in a great while a plane flies over, six miles above. Shooting stars beckon me to keep watching even when my eyelids are growing heavy; per friend Carrie’s instructions, I make sure to count at least three every night before sleep overtakes.
And the sounds! The nothingness! The utter absence of human-generated noise! Crickets, crickets, an occasional bird chirp, and more crickets. At 4:30 a.m., one solitary peent from a Common Nighthawk intrudes on my sleep, and then all falls quiet again. The eastern horizon is perceptibly lighter than the rest of the sky, as Desert Bats continue their insect-eating missions with flits and darts that make me smile. Only a few gnats have managed to bite me this night; a gentle breeze has kissed my face for most of it, keeping the majority at bay. I lie watching the colors intensify imperceptibly, grateful for the the most gorgeous bedroom in San Juan County, or maybe all of Utah, or the universe.
If the sunrise sets the tone for the day, I shall have some spectacular days ahead of me.
The thought of sleeping under acoustic ceiling tile instead of a canopy of infinite stars is depressing, to say the least. I fear this is symptomatic of my falling further and further into advanced Wildophilia, about which I wrote at the end of last summer http://arches.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/no-cure-for-wildophilia/ and for which there is no known cure. I’m savoring every speck of wilderness.