Featuring: the season’s first dust storm!
The dust storm came up fast and low, whipping across the playa to where I was celebrating the end of a day’s work with a little coconut milk. It was already windy out, but we had been ignoring it so far – and then the air rose up all white and gritty, and the playa roared, and all we could do was to turn and roar right back.
Some people out here speak of the desert as a living thing. It lies quiet all winter, and then as more and more of us come out and start driving trucks and digging holes, it starts to wake up and get angry. Anyone who’s been to Burning Man can testify as to just how angry it gets, and just how awesome the power of the wind and dust is.
We have been punishing the poor playa recently. Suddenly it’s fenced in, and there are people everywhere, marking their territory. We put up the Commissary tent the other day, and the number of holes drilled and stakes pounded just for that project would be enough to wake any sleeper.
The human injuries have started, too. We’re losing people to dehydration; fingers are falling under hammers; backs and shoulders are strained; all manner of little scratches and bashes and bruises have appeared on my own self. Luckily, Pearl trained a group of DPWers to be First Responders, and they all passed their exam last night. It’s already come in handy to have friends with medical training: our medic can only do so much, and everyone who knows their stuff out here is a blessing.
It really does feel like a battle sometimes, us against the playa. But in truth, it’s a love-hate relationship. I know plenty of Burners who kiss the ground when they finally reach Black Rock City, and not a few who get right down and roll in the dust. In turn, we’re consistently rewarded with glorious sunsets, fantastic lightning storms, and – especially lately – a cool breeze that kicks up just at the hottest part of the afternoon.
The fact is, every person I’ve talked to is immensely happy to be here, working in the high desert at high noon. It sure beats an office. It’s nice to lose the carpal tunnel syndrome and get some healthy blisters on your fingers for a change. And we’re well taken care of, really: gourmet food at the Kommissary and managers that are religious about providing drinking water. Now that I’m finally living on the playa, that’s really all I need. You know?