Tucson has been experiencing more monsoons this summer than since we moved here (over 3 years ago). The natives tell us there used to be monsoons every day this time of year – the clouds would start to build throughout the day, gathering their moisture and then dumping it all out around 5 o’clock. Children would relish the frequent power outages taking everyone back to primitive but beautiful nights of candlelight and shadows. For a while now, the monsoons have been coming later, stopping sooner, with less rain to replenish depleted water tables. We’ve been told we’ve never seen a real monsoon season.
But this year has been different. We had our first monsoon in June – right when the official season opened – which shocked all of Tucson with joy. And the Fourth of July brought even more reason to celebrate with drenching rains throughout the day. We grinned as water flooded our patio – what’s a few soggy bags of charcoal when there’s all this WATER? Woo hoo!
Living in the desert changes your perspective on everything.
Ah the electric tingle of an approaching monsoon. It’s the wind that first pricks my attention. That delicious soft summer breeze starts growing. And growing. The clouds that were fluffy and white start darkening. Fast. The bruised sky keeps deepening and spreading. It’s all so sudden it doesn’t even seem real. The wind gets even stronger making the trees and bushes dance a strange tarantella. You start scanning the clouds, gauging the direction of the wind – will it actually happen? Or will it just miss us and take its tropical drama to the north or south? We’ve been disappointed before.
But no, you hear the first crack of thunder – then a white branch of lightning and it’s close. Anticipation builds – there’s no way you’re going back inside. There’s energy all around – soaking into you – hair whipping your face – air whistling in your ear – all the while building, building. You think of the thrill in your stomach when you climb the top of a roller coaster mountain.
And then the first hard drops slam – BAM – onto the pavement, the gravel. Splashing tiny craters into the soil. At first just a little sprinkle practically sizzles on the asphalt. But then more drops fall, and more. Finally sheets of water cascade down, a constant drum roll plays on the roof, creeks materialize to baptize your backyard then run for lower ground. The odd dove swoops through looking for shelter. Crack – BOOM. More lightning and thunder.
And then…it’s done. Just like that. The clouds hang around for a little while longer but they’ve dumped their cargo and soon start to dissipate. The minutes-old creeks and ponds start to disappear too, as the thirsty earth drinks up every drop possible. You already start to miss the sound and fury.
But if you’re lucky, the desert sometimes leaves a magical trick of full spectrum light as a sweet parting kiss.
And if you’re luckier, she’ll leave two.