It was one of my favorite stickers ever: “Welcome to Burning Man, where nature makes a serious effort to kill you.” But in 2011, nature hung its hat up on the midday sun, put on its best playa clothes, and came to join the party. In other words, the big story at this year’s Burning Man was the complete lack of adverse weather.

Alright, so Monday night, our first, there were some brisk winds flapping about our tent’s fly, and I believe it was Thursday when a cold front came through and knocked the nighttime temperatures down close to freezing, and I slept fully clothed, with hat on, but this was small potatoes compared to the usual Black Rock sob stories.

It’s another beautiful day in the neighborhood. Click on thumb-nail for larger image.

Last year, for example, people had to endure a heavy rainstorm, which can turn the Playa into a quagmire. Two years ago, when we tried putting our tent up on the Sunday, admittedly without sufficient shelter from RVs, the wind ripped one of the poles in two and tore a hole through the canvas; we were so caked in dirt and dust the following morning that it put something of a pall on us (certainly a grey pallor) for the whole week. The year before that, 2008, the wind storms on the Monday were so forceful that some people literally packed up and left already (fortunately, we were trapped in the extensive entry queue that ensued as a result of the Org closing down the entire process for safety’s sake). And on our first year, we had to take refuge several times in our neighbours’ caravan as we watched the wind flatten our tent (and fortunately, watched it pop back up again), while the Friday night burns were postponed due to the extensive white-outs; I think that was the day we saw someone’s tent fly across Black Rock City.

So while it’s fair to say that your Burning Man experience is not complete unless you’ve survived such adverse conditions, it’s equally fair to say that experienced burners (like us!) had earned a year off. Thanks, mother nature. (Or perhaps not. You were busy tearing a hole in the Catskills, after all.)

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