I love to fly, well actually to allow my spirit the chance to take flight. It is the essence or genre of imagination. This chance presents itself when I am camping on a moonless night. It presences itself as I float the Chama River. Spending time on a river is an experience of joy. The body craves water, the water on the Chama is cold, running high, the sky is sunbaked hot, and the banks cool where shade can be found.
Spending a day on the river is like being placed in a convection oven. Your skin is red, pulsing heat. The evening brings relief. Deep in the canyons, the sun pulls away, casting chiaroscuro on the red rock cliffs a thousand feet or more above us. With my dog, Josey Wales close by; we eat dinner as the evanescent light of day begins to surrender to night. My skin refracts heat; the cold beer pretends to quench my thirst, the sound of water is soothing, it allows a meditative waltz as I reflect on the day.
My camp is simple, a sleeping bag, and a blanket for Josey. We settle in sated from dinner, as the first stars take position. I am somnolent from the day, Josey breaths hard as she begins to dream, the water rushes by, while crickets harmonize. The pall of night consumes; laying on the duff, beneath an old pine my nose captures the terroir of decay, of smoke from nearby fires, of the dust of dry years. My eyes close to the dance of running water on a still night, along the Chama.
Around 2 am, through simple volitional, I force myself awake. The stillness of night pervades. This is when the magic begins. Eyes open, I begin to focus on the shooting stars, the edges of the sky show the zig and zag of man’s invasion of the night sky-satellites. My focus becomes the center of the Milky Way, and soon like an astronaut in space, I begin my walk. From beneath the warmth of my sleeping bag, I disconnect my mind. The world becomes three-dimensional.
In the pulse of night, the stars fall from the sky, like hot flashes they fill a piece of the sky for seconds as they spiral to earth. The Milky Way now is vivid, the staccato of the river, creates the symphony that marries the earth and sky. It is now that I become free, I feel myself lifting from my prone position, the reality is simply my mind is like a missile, absorbing the boundaries of space. I see the colors refract the sense of dimension, the endless sphere that draws me away, I feel my body light, it is the weightlessness of dream, and it is the power of space. My heart rate builds, Josey feels my energy flowing to the sky and peers at the constellations. Her breathing is calm, I am prone, yet floating, earth and sky are one and my body and senses combine for our spacewalk.
On this lonely stretch of river, the owl speaks in coded hoots, as the earth rotates and the sky rains stars. For more than an hour I have left this planet on the ride of dreams, in the face of other worlds, my ship is returning. My mind slowly begins to remember, to idle down, the stars still shoot across the sky, I hold Josey close. I was gyrating with the solar system, tumbling end over end in the freedom of space that galaxies provide, as the sky pulsed rainbows of color, and yet I had never left my sleeping bag. My mind was washed clean of worry and thought, my spirit recharged by the power of a solar night.
The sky begins to show the refraction of the east, as a coyote sings to announce a new day. The river runs cold, we rise slowly, I am refreshed, yet tired. Joey stands guard of our small borrowed domain. Our visit is short. As the morning fire yields warmth, a couple of wood ducks float by. Soon the sun will rise to bake anew, we will float the river, staring at the tall cliffs and listen for the osprey. My mind will focus on the now, but my heart remains weightless in the sphere of the Milky Way.