24 July 2011

Arizona, I love you (Part 1)

I’m going to miss this place.

I’m sitting in my living room listening to the pounding of rain on the roof.  And now I’m not.  That span of a sentence was the full length of that first foreboding burst of rain.  And now it’s back.  See how quickly the weather changes in Arizona?

Now it’s coming down hard, blowing in all directions, really drenching the pavement outside.  I can’t see the mountains in the distance.  It’s still light out, like anyone else’s normal sunny day.  And it is pouring.

A good Arizona monsoon day starts with a cloudless, stifling, muggy summer morning.  It’s a hundred and five and the humidity is forty percent.  Scoff if you want, but in a desert forty percent might as well be a steam room.  The cicadas are loving it – their constant deafening buzz rings from every tree, cutting like knives through still, thick air.

And then, on toward afternoon, the clouds start building.  Huge mushrooms of white billowing out of bright blue nothing off in the distance.  They start lumping together, forming a black mass on the horizon, a wall of water coming closer.  It starts to get darker.  The cicadas go quiet.  And then you catch a whiff of that smell, that fabled desert rain smell everyone talks about in poems and songs, the one you have to live to understand.  The smell of wet creosote.  It’s still sweltering.  The wind starts to pick up, short sharp bursts of air rattling tree branches, kicking up dust.  And the clouds get closer.  Lightning flashes in the darkness, you hear that gentle roll of distant thunder.

One big, heavy drop of rain thuds onto the ground.  Another, another, smacking hard into hot pavement.  They dapple the ground, steaming.  You look up and you can see that gray wall heading right for you, obscuring the houses down the block. 

And then the sky breaks open and a torrent of water descends, a whole ocean all at once, a downpour of epic proportions.  Heavy gusts of wind knock the rain about, water dancing sideways through the air.  The sky goes dark.  And it keeps coming.  In moments the streets turn to rivers, waterfalls cascade from rooftops.  Lighting cracks overhead, instantaneous flash-boom ripping through the atmosphere.

It’s over in minutes.  Soon the flood becomes a drizzle, last wringing of straggling leaden clouds as the storm passes onward.  Suddenly the only water still dropping is off of roof edges, parched earth soaking it in greedily the moment it hits.  Rivers become rivulets, which give way again to already drying streets.

The next morning you can hardly even tell it rained at all. 

And then the clouds start building.

The scene from our front door

1 comment:

  1. That was the best description of Monsoon season ever.. You actually made me miss the place I currently live because, being asleep all day, I miss that great buildup and just wake up to slightly damp pavement. Thanks for recapturing the moment for me.