Having all of the snow and cold flying around my home I decided to retrieve some memories I experienced in the deserts of New Mexico. White Sands military base lies to the east of Las Cruces. Las Cruces and Mesilla Valley are located in a bowl surrounded by the tail end of the Rockies. They call it White Sands due to the supremely white sand. At night in the moonlight it sparkles like millions of diamonds.
Every year while living there everyone looked forward to the Music by the Moonlight series offered by the local orchestra with free admission. Everyone excitedly gathered lawn chairs, snacks, beverages(mostly wine as New Mexico has hundreds of vineyards) and a blanket and coats. Yes, that is correct. The daytime temps on the desert can elevate to 125-130 plus and after the setting Sun can plummet to the freezing temps.
The only road leading to White Sands travels up and over the Organ Mountains which are noted for their single traffic light on the highest elevation. The light determines whether or not it is safe to continue over the desert floor due to errant flights of missiles that sometimes go astray. I had lockdown at my household several times as the missiles flyby and everyone ducks.
Once the light indicates safety a line of cars continues down into the beautiful area known as White Sands and the ultimate destination: the concert area. This area is accessible to those who can travel over the boards that the Park Service has placed and they are ringed with rope and cautionary signs advising not to stray. The desert sands are devious due to the constant changing drifts so it is easy to get lost.
After approaching the concert area it is not uncommon to think you truly are in a foreign land. The beautiful and stunning Oryx, an antelope-like animal with impressive horns and black and white stripes that was imported from Africa, is often seen at every turn. They love the desert as it reminds them of their homeland.
Everyone sets up their personal chairs and proceeds to enjoy the company. As evening approaches and the first tendrils of moonlight start to wander over the eastern sands, the orchestra begins tuning up. The moon is spreading the sparkling diamond affect across the sand and becoming more intense. Just as the moon reaches its fullness the music begins to coordinate with the beautiful silence and a special note of anticipation. The sound ripples over the desert floor. No other sounds intrude as at the peak of the moon's offering the music reaches a climax.
The combination of sound and visual offerings leaves a lasting impression. For hours, we are entertained by music selected to add to the mystery and delight of engaging in the most primal of natures gifts. Only the sound of our clapping and sighs of contentment vibrate over the immense White Sands desert. We wonder if the desert animals find this as joyful as we do and know they are used to this annual event. We are so lucky and truly appreciate what Mother Nature and man have preserved.