The Monsoon has begun in Tucson as I write this. And that brings all of its wonders to mind. Here in the Pennsylvania rain forest we take the rain for granted. But in the southwest desert the rains are a much anticipated and celebrated occurrence.
As the heat rises in the desert during the late summer months, the humidity rises also, making everyone miserable and anxious. But it’s that miserableness that’s got to build to make the miracle happen. No pain, no gain.
In time, the heat rising off of the desert floor begins to make its way up onto the surrounding mountain ranges where it forms towering cloud formations that finally collapse onto the valley floor below dumping their contents to the relief of all. At least that is how I THINK it works. I remember getting pretty excited myself when the clouds formed in the hills.
A monsoon downpour is to say the least, memorable! I consider myself fortunate to have gotten caught driving in one of them and to have survived. Windshield wipers are useless and you can’t even see where to pull off of the streets. So you creep along very slowly feeling for the curbs, following the pick-up truck in front of you, hoping that maybe HE know where he is and where he’s going. I survived and was stunned to see the Rillito River roiling away and filled to capacity. No camera so no photo. But believe me, it was amazing. [For the record... this is the Rillito RIVER the way it usually looks... NO WATER... so is this really a river??? LOL!]
There are tons of ‘new’ rivers when the monsoon rains fall. There is no real storm drainage system in Tucson, so the streets become little rivers until the water finds its way into various natural washes and ditches that drain the town. And that’s another thing that’s fun. The roads and streets of Tucson are not graded, but twist and turn and follow the natural lay of the land. Roads rise over and around hills and then fall away, deep into the washes and back up the other side.
It makes for a fun ride until they fill with water and become raging rivers. Warning signs come out all over town. “DO NOT ENTER WHEN FLOODED!” Obviously! And yet some will, prompting Tucson’s ‘stupid driver’ laws to stay in the books. It costs $1500 to drive into a flooding wash and get swept away, creating a rescue situation. It happens every year.
There are many benefits that are immediately felt as the rains pass. The temperature drops. Everything sparkles. Kayaks become useful things! Of course the most beautiful result of nature’s wonder is the evening skies, filled with clouds and reflecting a patient sun as it drops behind the hills, promising to start the whole process over again in the morning.