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June 9th, 2009

WAITING FOR THE RAIN

It is early June and the weather here is unusual. Typically I would expect temperatures to be in the high range, high 90’s that is, perhaps even into the 100’s. May and June are the months of the hot dry summer and it is heat that brings the monsoon-like rains of our ‘second summer’.

Months of No Rain and the Grasses Remain Semi-Dormant, Waiting

Months of No Rain and the Grasses Remain Semi-Dormant, Waiting

We live on the upper edges of the Sonoran Desert, a place where the late Spring sun cooks the earth and at the same time warms the waters of the Gulf of California to the South.

The intensely heated parched land warms the air to such a degree that surface air pressure falls. One can imagine dancing heated air rising, leaving a void that needs filling. The void, though not truly a void, is known as a thermal low.

The big body of water in the Gulf is slower to warm than the land and air pressure over it remains high. No hot dancing air particles here, these are cooler, heavier, and are holding increasing levels of moisture. This air is humid whilst the air over the heated land has humidity in the single digits. My skin is taut, lines on my face more exaggerated, fissured like the clay soils that that I walk on. Plants cannot drink fast enough to keep from wilting and by evening, if they do not recover, then I will give them the water they need.

Eventually the pressure differences between the air masses of the sea and the air masses of the land increase and this dynamic draws the cooler, humid air toward the hot dry air over the land, filling the ‘void’.  

Moisture Laden Cumulus Clouds Ready to Burst Open Over Thirsty Land

Moisture Laden Cumulus Clouds Ready to Burst Open Over Thirsty Land

The moist air becomes unstable and develops into thunderstorms which we watch from the ground. Great rounded-white cumulus clouds appear in the blueness, most often in the early or mid-afternoons, seemingly out of nowhere. Sometimes high winds level off the tops of the clouds which take on a classic anvil shape and there is always lightening and the thunder of Thor. I count the seconds between a strike and thunder’s crashing sound: a mile per five seconds will gage the distance from the storm and the level of safety for being on the phone or outside.

As rain falls air temperatures drop instantly and we are twenty degrees cooler, and moist, the feeling is tropical. My skin plumps to a more youthful version, hair curls and every leaf and stem, at maximum turgidity stands tall, full and fragrantly green.

Symphytum Officianale/ Comfrey, a Cultivate Medicinal & Fertilizer Thrives Durning the Monsoonal Period

Symphytum Officianale/ Comfrey, a Cultivate Medicinal & Fertilizer Thrives Durning the Monsoonal Period

Transformation: the Result of Rainfall & Atmospheric Chemistry as Liquid Nitrogen Falls With Rain and is Taken Up by Plants

Transformation: the Result of Rainfall & Atmospheric Chemistry as Liquid Nitrogen Falls With Rain and is Taken Up by Plants

For the moment I can remember how the moist air feels because there is cloud in the sky now and there is humidity, though only 18 percent. The promise of rain is slight this early in the forecast, only a fractional chance. What I long for is the merciless heat that suck moisture from skin so fast that sweating has become a thing unknown.

Like a good fairy tale, a gift is only given after the heroine has paid the price, after she has surrendered the ego to the greater good. It is only then that the reward is given.

If we endure the reward will come, the pattern that life depends on here will repeat its dance of particles and pressure with mountains and valleys. And water, pure water will fall from the sky and the land will transform into a thing unimaginable if you had not witnessed it before. I am in it and of it, we are in it together: the earth and plants, the wild and water. This is magic: real, tangible and life-filled to overflowing.

Gaillardia Grandiflora/Blanket Flower Responds to Rain Much to the Delight of Pollinators and People Delight

Gaillardia Grandiflora/Blanket Flower Responds to Rain Much to the Delight of Pollinators and People Delight

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