Cool soil met my bare feet as I stepped from my truck. My shoes lay under the steering wheel as I reached to the passenger side to grab a beer from the cooler. A breeze gently ruffled my shirt over my back as I stepped away from the truck. The sun just blipped behind the Sierra Nevada to the west as pastel orange and blue streaked over the horizon. My skin began to goose-bump and my hair stood on end – the air was cooling as the night sky began to draw. All around the faint song of red-winged black birds blew in on the wind as Brewer’s Blackbirds hopped around tufts of alkali grass in joyful glee – finding food, friends, and reveling in life. I looked down at the concrete bath, surrounded by grass and a vast eastern Sierra landscape and approved of the solitude. I was aware of my luck, finding it all alone on this peaceful midsummer’s eve. Steam gently floated from its breeze-rippled surface. I ambled down the gentle slope to the edge of the bath, beer in hand. I placed my things along the edge and craned my head back toward the dirt road. One way, then the other, then listened for the sound of motors carried on the wind. None. Perfectly silent. Perfectly alone. Alone in the sound of a gentle breeze with nothing but the birds to keep me company.
I pulled off my shirt and let my pants drop to the ground. The breeze greeting my bare body in the twilight. I slowly stretched out my arms toward the sky and brought them slowly down to the ground. Stretching my back and legs from the day-long drive. I slowly stood up and raised my arms again as if greeting the oncoming darkness. A faint sliver of moon was barely visible as I stepped into the soothing water. Displacing what I could of the old water, I turned the valve open to release fresh water from the source, warming, refreshing, water.
I reached for my beer and took a sip, its hoppy aroma filling my nostrils. Setting it down, I gently let my body float downward as my head came to rest on the concrete edge of the pool. The warmth blanketing my body. I closed my eyes and listened to the birds as they bade goodnight to the darkening valley. The wind gently picked up and I could feel it cool my skin as I sat up exposing my chest to the air. I leaned back again, watching as the soft colors of twilight began to give way to the darkness of night. The stars beginning to twinkle. Occasional blinks of light tracking across the sky. An airplane. A satellite in Earth orbit.
As I sat alone in the water under the growing darkness the wind began to whistle around the rim of my bottle of beer. Singing a song. The pitch changing with each sip I took. The Milky Way swirled and twisted above through the blackness. Stars, planets, and galaxies twinkled their light from millions and billions of miles away. To consider that some of that light started traveling toward Earth long before any memorable moments in human history humbled me. My existence, my importance, dwarfed by a vast cosmos displayed in front of me as I lay in the warm water, in awe.
Sitting up, I exposed my bare chest to the drying wind. Slowly my body dried as I inched further out of the water. The hair on my bumpy skin once again stood up as I cooled in the night breeze. I walked back to my truck, its silhouette barely visible on the horizon above me. Beyond, the dark peaks of the Sierra Nevada stood as giants, only to be illuminated by the morning sun. A fair greeting for me to wake to the next morning. As I lifted the hatch of the camper shell, the wind began to pick up and I was glad to be taking shelter inside the truck. The wind, howling around outside, sang me into a slumber as I snuggled warmly in my sleeping bag.