In Desert Time

The desert sun, just over the mountains.


Time here is like a dream that has become reality, but one that has not yet fully been able to understand its new existence. The echoes of silence in my brain is now my waking world. The enchantment that exists in my heart has been blown away by desert winds and I find myself flying free. I am in a bubble of wakings, meals, and sunsets marred by the necessity of laundry and the sensuality of bathing. Time passes with only the end in sight and the present ever present.


Time adheres to no man-made constrictions here.

Time, like the desert itself, abides by the sun. There is no need for a watch.

We rise with the sun to bask in the cool morning breeze as light creeps over the mountain.

High noon is the only place holder.

Three quarters to the sun directly over head – the heat begins to pound.

A siren of mortality alerts the flesh to seek shade.

Then we rest.

We slow down and layout, lowering the heart rate.

The worst is yet to come. The internal clock slows to a murmur and the layers of hot air sit  on top of themselves, elongated the day. But as the sun approaches the alternative horizon, the pace picks back up again. Bright orange-pinks flair out into the deeper blue sky.

Night is upon us. Time to gather and restore the bodies’ nutrients before we do it again.

We sleep under the stars in the yard with light blankets and neck support for an arena of dreams.


The time passes differently in the desert, when you are out in the sun a few minutes feels like forever, but without cell service or internet time and days passed become a blur. The other day we went on a bicycle ride, we overshot the target by a few miles and ended up out longer than we had prepared for. We must have been out there for an hour, I honestly do not know how long we were out there because without cell service I don’t keep my phone on me and thus I don’t keep time on me. We ran out of water when we were about two football fields away, I could see home, which I knew had water there but it was so far away. At that point time seemed to stop and I could not get home fast enough, the few minutes to make it home seemed like hours, my mouth dried up and my salvia became foamy as my lips started to crack. It was the last few hundred feet but it could not end fast enough. However, for the most part I do not go out during the day because of this. Because of the lack of cell service and internet, time is now measured in meals for me. In the morning, I am often on breakfast duty I rise after the sun is up and prepare a meal before it gets too hot. Lunch is around the last bearable hours of the outdoors before nightfall. Dinner arrives once it gets dark, since it is too hot to eat in the sun, so we often have a late dinner. Bedtime for me is often once the dishes are cleaned, the meetings are over and most of everybody else is asleep. I do not know what day it is today, I don’t know how close we are to leaving and I don’t quite recall what month we are in now. None of this is important, what is important is that dusk is coming so dinner is soon.


the passing of time
understood by a series of numbers
7 days a week
24 hours in a day
1 o’clock
2 o’clock
and so on
society promotes schedule
be aware of the numbers

forget the numbers
let time be
adjust rhythms
the sun is your guide
listen to yourself
time will escape you
it was never actually important


Measuring time here has changed. At the beginning, I was very reliant on my phone and computer for the time. Even thought I do not have phone service here, I would still carry my phone around in order to check the time. As the weeks have gone on and my days find a rhythm, time is more reliant on the sun and the actions that I associate with different parts of the day. When the sun is up, I know it’s time to get up. When the sun is setting, I know it is time for dinner and after dinner, it is time to sleep. At the peak of the day when the sun is high in the sky, I know I should be inside resting and taking refuge from the heat. Some days are different than others and there are still days that require me to use my phone to check the time, particularly on days when we have to leave early or go to town for food. I also measure days in terms of sleeps, as there are times when I am unsure of exactly what day it is. Instead of Tuesday, I would say two sleeps or nights from today. Once I began to organize my days around this new type of schedule, I found that they have started to go by very quickly.


My phone is my clock. In the city I checked it often and by habit for notifications of one type or another. Noting the time was a perfectly good excuse for this compulsion. But there is no cell reception here, so: habit broken. 

I barely look at the time now that we are out here in the desert.

The increments of time are now told by the sun and the shade. There is short splinter of time when the sun cracks the horizon and the entire desert glows pinky-orange. This is one increment and its my favorite to wake up in. Then there is another, and its longer and golden blue. This increment casts shadows westward and it’s when we drink tea and talk in low voices and read or draw. Or hike. Or do physical work. The next increment is long and hot and bright and more challenging than the other ones. We each have our own way of moving through this chunk. And then it jumps to the eastward shadows when the tips of the desert glow golden yellow. This increment is for walks and blends into the next, when the sky is hazy and pastel. Then it’s the moon’s turn- she holds us in night until its time for the pinky-orange glow again.


Time has slowed down. I have slowed down. Gone in reverse if you can say. I use the elements to tell me the time. I rise with the sun and all her glory. And lay to rest when the moon is high above.

Morning tea bags remind me of the days passing. The cycling moon tells me of the days to come.

The moon, the sun, the hunger. Those are the time markers of my day.

Breakfast after tea. I used to skip breakfast, wake up and go.

Eat when I could, or worse when I remembered. Now I have learned to slow down, give myself time. Enjoy the morning coolness, conversations, contentment.

What do I run to? I don’t, I’ve learned to walk. Step away from the production line of make, make, make. Learn to live, to become present in the moment. The making will always show itself.

I know its lunch when my stomach sings the song of its people.

When the heat is reaching its max, I know it’s time to relax. Rest easy in the coolness. Not often found, but fabricated. Drenched sheets, shaded spaces, crafted breezeways.

When I rise, the heat has started to fall. My energy starts to peak and I find myself on an adventure. Walking, riding, searching, learning.

I return as the sun starts to set, switching spaces with the moon.

We gather for dinner. Togetherness, conversations, sharing, closing.

My clock has been swapped for a thermometer. The moon, the sun, the hunger.

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