Welcome to my World

Welcome to the domain different--to paraphrase from New Mexico's capital city of Santa Fe which bills itself "The City Different." Perhaps this space is not completely unique but my world shapes what I write as well as many other facets of my life. The four Ds figure prominently but there are many other things as well. Here you will learn what makes me tick, what thrills and inspires me, experiences that impact my life and many other antidotes, vignettes and journal notes that set the paradigm for Dierdre O'Dare and her alter ego Gwynn Morgan and the fiction and poetry they write. I sell nothing here--just share with friends and others who may wander in. There will be pictures, poems, observations, rants on occasion and sometimes even jokes. Welcome to our world!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Monsoon Magic

I don't doubt that some folks are spinning in their graves to hear me use that term! I grew up among old time south westerners who knew this season simply as "the summer rains." Then troops came back from Southeast Asia speaking about monsoons and the new term crept quickly into common usage. Technically our rainy season does meet the monsoon criteria of a significant shift in the currents in the atmosphere which cause a major change in the weather for a region. And btw, it is not plural unless you are speaking of the phenomenon over several years or in several separate regions! There is generally one monsoon per year regardless of how many storms or rains it produces!

In this regional US case the high level winds shift to blow from the south and east bringing in tropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Still we do not get the same kind of massive torrential rains that hit India and Southeast Asia. I just read  there were 6000 people missing in floods in northern India. Perish the thought we get that here! We do have flash floods and they can be destructive and dangerous, though. Every year one or more people lose their lives by getting caught in ditches or arroyos that are dry one moment and awash with roaring water the next. A few inches of rushing water can sweep you off your feet or start a car floating--and in most cases that is all it takes to steal your chances to get out alive.

But my original topic was the wonders of this time of year. It can happen almost overnight--all at once moisture has come to the desert bringing amazing changes. I can tell the very first day. All at once the air instead of  the sharp edged 'hard' feeling of dryness is like wet silk sliding over your skin. Then the cacti and other desert plants that have gone faded and pallid sport new green and fresh growth. Weeds and grass spring up and grow visibly each day. Even the birds and other wee beasties are out to revel in it.

I am energized by the thunderstorms. In the morning it is usually mostly clear although there will be clouds, streaks or fuzzy clumps like herds of sheep. By noon they are billowing and towering over the mountains, white on top and dark gray beneath where the rain begins to fall. Then perhaps a storm will pull away and slip down to the lowlands. You get the chill of the outflow winds and soon the scent of ozone from the lightning and then the pungent odor of wet creosote and mesquite. Then the rain comes. I dash around to close windows and be sure nothing is out that should not get wet or might blow away but it's wonderful.

Speaking of this and of the rare springs and streams that grace the desert, the original editor of Arizona Highways magazine, Raymond Carlson,  mentioned "water in a thirsty land." How true that is. Every drop is precious. So for maybe eight or ten weeks we can enjoy this. There will still be hot and dryer days but the whole atmosphere is different. I've always loved it. I love to watch the lightning at night, usually a safe distance away since everywhere I have lived in the desert one could see many miles in at least a couple of directions. I've taken a lot of photos of lightning. Of course my "Spirit of Huachuca" is my favorite. Here it is again.

On to a related topic that will wrap up an earlier discussion. I showed you the first green leaves of the mesquites and even the knobby buds that precede them. I showed the fuzzy yellow blooms. Now it  is time for the beans to ripen. Due to the unusual rain we had in May, we're getting a bumper crop despite the general drought. In ancient times the Native American people of the region gathered them and ground them into meal and flour. The beans are high in protein and very nutritious. Most even have a wild but rather pleasant taste. The wild creatures will enjoy them too--everything from birds and rabbits to deer and even coyotes eat mesquite beans! Cattle and horses will also.

So that is the magic of monsoon season and the joys of water in a thirsty land. Here is a parting shot of how the thunder clouds look over the mountains here.  I think they are magnificent!

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