As I reach yet another birthday, I am thinking back about how some others were celebrated. Sharpest in my mind is my 79th which in 2003 found me in Morocco, riding a camel on the edge of the Sahara Desert. A group of us having spent the night in nomad-type tents, we rose in the darkness and trudged out to meet a small collection of beasts waiting to carry us onward.
The camel to which I was assigned knelt as directed, and I clamored onto a thick pile of blankets roped onto his back, more or less on top of his hump. There was a metal bar in front of me that I thankfully gripped as he rose, first on his front legs and then his back ones. His Bedouin keeper stood by his head, keeping his eyes on my camel and another close by. Then we were off – not a particularly smooth ride, but not nearly as bumpy as I had imagined.
The camels marched across an area of flat, gravelly sand until the sand began rising in drifts. Then the sand became dunes, each one higher than the last, and the camels waded on. The sky grew lighter all the time and colors began to show. Just as we paused at the top of a huge dune, the sun’s bright rim appeared, and we watched in reverent silence as its rays began to reach across the tops of the dunes around us. To think that this brilliant breaking of day occurred each morning, perhaps with no one at all to watch it! The colors of the sky, the shadows of the dunes, the infinite space spreading in all directions were overwhelming and filled one with a deep sense of eternity.
– Mollie Hallowell