Under The Full Moon

Since my very first step onto the Mojave Desert 30+ years ago, I have been in love with all of its colorful splendor, especially the wild burros. Of course, the burros living in Red Rock Canyon are one step away from being domesticated because they are familiar with the constant flow of human visitors exploring their territory.

One meeting between me and a burro took place around 2:00 in the morning when I was 23 years old. I don’t remember the exact reason I drove all the way out to Red Rock Canyon (20 miles) in the middle of the night, but I do remember my young emotions were overflowing and I felt sad.

I pulled my car into the parking lot of Bonnie Springs, an old western town and turned off the engine. It was a clear summer night and I sat on the hood of my old Datsun and cried. My heart was breaking, somehow. (Oh, the drama of being young) After I cried the pain away, I began to enjoy the stillness of the night and laid back against the windshield and watched the full moon float by.

In the distance, in the gravel of the parking lot, I heard strange footsteps. They slowly got louder, which meant they were getting closer and that began to scare me. I jumped off the hood and started for the car door when I spotted the four-legged shadow moving toward me. After a moment of panic and a flash thought I was about to get robbed, a burro appeared two feet away from me.

For a few moments it was a stand-off, he looked at me, I looked at him, then he made a sound and bumped his head into my hand. In reality he was probably looking for food, but at that moment in time, I accepted his attention as a sign of friendship. For the next twenty minutes I gently rubbed his head and filled his ears with my words of woe. He patiently listened and responded with an extra nudge into my hand. Then, as suddenly as he appeared, he was gone. As I watched him disappear into the low rolling hills, I quietly thanked him for comforting me.

I truly needed a friend that night and I have never forgotten the experience. I have had many more similar meetings while hiking in that area, but nothing will ever compare to that burro, on that emotional night, under that full moon.


Under The Full Moon — 11 Comments

  1. Thanks for the memory, Steve. It was a nice story, and one that I’m sure most people could identify with in some way. Animals can pick up on our moods, so maybe the burro was there to empathise. Who knows?
    I know it works with dogs. My last dog, Ben, and present one, Boo, have on occasion both suddenly appeared with a paw or sad face in my lap when I have been in a particularly low mood. Their unconditional love is why I love dogs so.
    I had a similar late-night experience as you above when I was 21. I had just ended my relationship with my fianceé Bridgette, and drove for miles before stopping on a lonely country road. I felt like a heel. I was a mess. I had been thumping the steering wheel and crying whilst driving, and just had to stop to compose myself. I was leaning against the car and staring into the distance across the wheat fields. I heard a loud rustling, but it was no burro! As I strained my eyes to see, I realised that the wheat was swaying in a huge wave across the field. I wasn’t sure what it was, but felt scared enough to jump back in the car, just in time to see hundreds and hundreds of rats run up and over the road and under the car before disappearing into the field opposite! I drove like hell out of there! It shook me out of my self-pity anyway! 🙂

    • There is something about driving to the middle of nowhere when we are emotional that helps the situation, I suppose. However, as much as I like cute little rodents, an army of rats isn’t my idea of being comforted. OMG, that would have shocked me out of my pity party too! I must have been lucky on my 2am get-a-way, because in the desert there are snakes and tarantulas, all hunting at night. Once on a daytime drive to a river town near Vegas, we came across about 100 rattle snakes crossing the road. It was the creepiest experience I’ve had in the desert so far, because as the cars passed by they would strike out at the tires.

  2. that burro almost got hit by the car – didn’t that sare you? does that happen often? i think he is very cute and i am sure i would have to have one of my own! his legs r beautiful laike a standard breed horse but with a small body and funny ears – i like him! did u name him? the place u pulled over to in the canyon – a western town – do they have an old west show they put on! if so i was there / bob and i went there in the early 90″s.

    • It’s most likely the same place you visited Sue. The western town also has a small train that takes people from a remote parking lot to the entrance. I parked my car there, near the train depot. Also, the location of the above video is in the same place. It is a hot spot for burros.

  3. It’s funny how those memories stick with you… a time that forever changes your life and the way you look at it…. Thank you for sending me the link to your page…. I will enjoy it for a long time…..

  4. What a magical moment, when I was a young girl, my girlfriend and \I used to go to the little woods they had, at that time, our area was a lot of woods around, a man had his house across the street from the woods, and he kept his horse in the woods, free to roam and run, my friend and I used to go there and feed the horse carrots from her mother, and just visit withthe horse, he always came running when we walked up, animals are people too!

    • That is a lovely story also, Jackie. There is something comforting and amazing about wild animals befriending us. Perhaps it is because they seem to take on human qualities during those moments and it makes us feel good to know they trusted us enough to approach.

  5. I love the video of the “wild” burros! I had a donkey a couple of years ago as a guard animal for my flock of sheep. I could have the worst day at work, pull into the driveway at home and he would see me and start HeeHawing (braying!) and it would always put a smile on my face and make me laugh!! I miss him!

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