The events of the first day in the desert in Oregon were memorable for sure. What I found out that evening of what would happen in the next several days stirred my consciousness.
Sitting next to the camp fire with Bill and his three friends who had come to help with the art project, I heard for the first time that Bill wasn’t going to be painting. The art project that they were going to make would be an ancient design carved into the dry lake bed, ‘a quarter of a mile in size.’
After reaching Mickey Basin, we set up my tent and unloaded the ice chest and other items from the school bus. We walked out into the lake bed. The soil Bill called ‘playa’ was completely bare of vegetation and was made of brown, sandy type soil. As we walked across it, some areas crunched under our feet while our foot prints only slightly made impressions. Bill said it only rained here a few times a year. This place was not like any wilderness area I had ever seen. The mountains had been created by volcanic eruptions and lava that had flowed down and formed the basin. No trees could be seen anywhere. Other than the miles of dry lake bed before me, there were only scattered patches of sage brush and piles of lava rocks that looked like sea sponges. This area could have been another planet.
Just as we returned to camp, Bill’s friends who had come to help with the project pulled into the camp. I was introduced, and we helped unloading their tents and supplies. Later, we all sat around our campfire, and Bill laid out the next days’ plans.This was really the first time I actually understood the scope of what would be created.
The design to be made was called a ‘Sri Yantra.’ Blueprints made would be used to create it. I was truly amazed at what they were about to make. The magnitude and complexity of it, and its size of slightly over a quarter of mile square was breathtaking. Bill and his three friends, me and Bill’s son Miles would work to carve the design into the playa using only a garden plow. I, of course, was there to film the creation but would help plow when time allowed.
In the early morning as the desert began to heat, Bill prepared our breakfast that he knew would sustain us along with a daily amount of gallons of water to keep our bodies in good working condition. Around 7am we all walked out into the dry lake bed carrying the equipment needed to begin the work.
Bill had decided that ancient principles would be used to correctly lay out and then make the Sri Yantra design. He first decided where the center called the ‘bindu’ would be. A pole was placed into the playa and a circle was marked and then dug around the pole. As the sun moved from east to west during the day, marks were made as the poles shadow reached the circle and marked a true east-west axis. While that was being done, the crew using spools of thousands of feet of aluminum wire began marking lines and distances from the center pole out one-eighth of a mile in several directions.
With the temputure reaching 100 degrees Farenheit at about 1pm, we returned to camp to have lunch and rest under the bus to get out of the sun.
We began work again at 4pm and worked until 10pm that night with a full moon giving us great light and evening breezes we all welcomed.
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