Day 5 of our sojourn in Black Rocky City brought our first taste of Temple Guardianship in 2018, and an introduction to the chilly late night desert air. Shifts were set to begin at the Temple build site at midnight and there was a need for two people to take the 3-7 a.m. watch, so, with some reluctance, we volunteered. We had already worked a long day building the major elements of our camp – kitchen, tent campers’ shade structure, the office yurt, etc. – so when the alarm sounded at 2:30 a.m. we were groggy and slow to move. Nonetheless, we made it in the nick of time and took our positions at the front of the Temple build site, making certain that Burners did not put themselves in danger by crossing the perimeter of an active construction area.
Time passes slowly on a shift at first, more so when there’s almost no one around, and after about 15 minutes we wondered if this night would ever end. In addition to the boredom, we were growing colder by the minute – despite dressing in clothes we thought were adequate for the weather conditions. Eventually, a few random visitors wandered to the site and were eager to chat about the Temple’s progress toward completion. We happily gave those folks our full attention, which allowed us to ignore the clock for a bit. Soon enough, 7 a.m. rolled around and we were escorted from the site in a heated ATV.
Our reward was a hot breakfast at the commissary that feeds mainly staff and long-term workers who build the city. Back at camp, we jumped right into the build process only to find that our top guy was due over at the Temple for a shift beginning at 11 a.m.
“Don’t send Casey,” I protested. “We need him here. I’ll go back.” So, I found myself back on duty in front of the Temple build site for another four-hour stint.
Good news: it was much warmer by then, and there were more people stopping by to check out the ongoing work. Even though it was largely a one-man effort, this shift seemed less onerous than the one beginning at 3 a.m. Bad news: the wind was up and the combination of dust and smoke from western fires was thick. I had to don goggles and a dust mask for almost the entire time.
On this shift, I met a fascinating array of fellow Burners, including one from a kinky sex site we had wandered into a few years ago in the middle of the night. She invited me to come back with my wife to actually try some of their wares. I presented the idea to Lashes later in the day but she demurred.
I’m happy to report lots of activity and clear signs of progress at the Temple build site. The crew and Guardians had put out a call for volunteer helpers and the early Burners had responded – some bringing power tools with them. When needs arise, Burning Man becomes a vibrant, loving community, and it’s always a pleasure to watch that phenomenon unfold. I’m also pleased to tell you that there are signs of life across the Playa as art installations are under construction all around us. The Man build is also full speed ahead and seems close to completion.
It’s been a long day and I’m ready for whatever dinner we can scrape together followed by an uninterrupted night of sleep. More to come…