|Sunset over Black Rock City.|
A thimble of history: Burning Man started in 1986 on San Francisco's Baker Beach (which allows bonfires) as an end-of-summer celebration by a small group of friends. The climax of the celebration was the burning of a large wicker man (hence, the name). It was a good party, friends told friends, and the party quickly outgrew the friendly confines of Baker Beach (along with causing the park police a great deal of heartburn). Some of the "Burners" knew of another event--a small, temporary, "radical expression" art festival taking place in the Black Rock Desert north of Reno--and the party moved to the desert. Like Topsy, the festival continued to grow until it's now part of mainstream popular culture: there is even an episode of The Simpsons ("Blazed and Confused"), in which Homer takes Marge and the kids to "Blazing Guy." The attendees are known as "Burners," and, like any interest-related community, they are a tribe, with their own language, customs, and rituals. The event itself is actually an art festival, with a number of large-scale installations, and a great many performance artists.
Thursday was an...interesting...logistical balance. When I originally was put in a cast to let my achilles heal, my podiatrist suggested six weeks. Fortunately, he's understanding, especially when he has a panicked woman stating that she can't be in a cast after August 27 as she'll be at home alone, with no way to drive and no friends in town that can chauffeur her (they'll all be at Burning Man). He agreed that four weeks might be enough to get it well on the way, so early Thursday morning, I was at the medical center, where one of the technicians freed me from that dratted cast. I was free, and less than four hours later, Stephen was on his way to pick up a camping buddy and head out to the Playa. I was officially a Burning Man Bachelorette.
Being on my own for more than a week is a luxury, especially as we both live and work under the same roof. I have the entire house to myself, and while Stephen is pretty easy-going about nearly everything, I still feel a certain responsibility to do things like cooking dinner, and not weaving in the early morning while he's asleep (we don't keep similar hours--he's an Owl, while I'm a Lark). For twelve days, I can live on salads and whatever I can heat up in the oven or microwave, and work at the loom at 7 a.m. I can clean, and, if I pick up after myself, the house stays clean. It's really rather nice.
|...and so, it begins...|
NOTE: All photos by SN Jacobson, from the start of this year's Burning Man festival.