Evenings in Australia

The sun hovered low over the desert, yielding to emerging star cascades. The Southern Cross, exotic- not visible at home, and easy to find, always anchored the night for me in that faraway place. We huddled on a blanket, humbled by the enormity of blazing galaxies unfolding without artificial light interference. Evening air brushed cool against our skin as dry sand yielded the day’s heat to darkened sky. Although we hushed in awe, rustling twigs and bird calls reminded us that we were not alone in the vast expanse. When night settled deep, my Dad lit his lantern. We relaxed in its cozy glow for a few moments, until we noticed an army of creepy crawly creatures marching towards its halo, including a very large gnarly spider. We laughed nervously and quickly ducked inside our zippered-shut-tent haven.

We reveled in the twilight hours of Outback Australia, when sultry days wilted into cooler nights. My brother, my Dad, and I especially savored cruising the rush of evening air currents on our bikes. Many a night after Dad got off work, we’d furiously pedal the outer brink of Alice Springs, carefree laughter tossed into the dark.

I remember one dusky evening. My Dad and I hiked a craggy trail to a bluff-top overlooking town. Waning light caressed a harsh landscape of sharply cut rocks and spindly plants.  We melted into the peaceful silence of simply being together. Then, haunting melodies of Aborigines wafted over the desert, transporting us out of time and place to something more ancient and elemental. We lingered still as statues, listening, as shadows merged into night.

The transition between day and night is still a siren call, luring me into mystery. Whether in the distant desert of Australia or sitting in my Colorado garden patio, the sinking sun ignites my longing to glimpse the unseen. It is also a space inhabited by memories of my Dad. Perhaps because he was the muse who first inspired me to dance in the fissure between what is visible… and what could be.

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