Someday soon, these elderly desert icons will return to the dust from which we all arose. And some days later, those like me who sought them out will also pass. There will come the time when no one is alive who once knew them, and their stories will be buried in dusty archives. Knight's mountain will fade in the blazing sunshine and will weather away, slowly decomposing, until nothing is left of his thirty years' work.
For this reason, I tell my children, and now their children, that there is a mountain in the middle of the desert not far from here that an ancient man built out of love. I tell them that he sleeps in an even older truck and that when you climb to the top of his mountain you can see far off to the mountains across the sea. I tell them how I talked with him about the pine forests back in Vermont that we both missed, and how he had trouble remembering from moment to moment but kept asking if I was the lady from Vermont. I tell them his story as he told me, which I know is only a single page in the book. Others elsewhere, no doubt, are doing the same with their grandchildren, sharing another page in Knight’s life story, weaving another colorful thread in the tapestry of his shroud.
People like Knight are remembered long after their contributions to the physical world perish. Even when Salvation Mountain is blown back to level desert dust by decades of neglect, his peaceful generosity and suggestions that we “keep it simple” and “just love one another” will echo in the arid wind rolling like tumbleweed across the mesa.