The featured image on this post was also uploaded to Facebook where a friend asked where the photograph was taken. “Earth,” I replied, not really thinking about the implications that go along with that as a destination. I was just being a smartass.
But the more I’ve looked at this image, the more accurate that answer. When I released the shutter on it, or rather when the self-timer did – I don’t touch the camera on long exposures to prevent any latent vibration from disturbing the frame during the exposure – I could see with my own eye the faint light impression of the milky way and the red planet Mars, and they like the ocean or the Redwoods, speak to me, “puny human,” something I can’t seem to get enough of.
The context of the image is how I spend some of my nights in Southern Utah when I’m on campus. Other nights down here are spent on the couch at a colleague’s condo or the guest room at my son’s home in Mesquite, but I can’t ignore the draw of the desert, sans WC and shower. But that’s okay. I manage.
When the optic nerves relax in the dark the ear drums kick in, ramping up their signal-to-noise ratio as if I can hear the Milky Way. That’s delusional, I know, but romantic. The earth punches through that noise with her anointed spokescanines, the coyotes who’ve surrounded my camp at safe distances on most points of the compass to let me know that I am just a visitor here.