I wrote the most beautiful poem yesterday on my bicycle ride home from work. Something about cauldrons of bubbling tar and heat scorching your ankles in the shade. But, as typically happens when you physically exert yourself in 108* heat, my brain turned to mush somewhere prior to half-way home, and I can’t remember much besides the fact that I was still composing this epic when I arrived home.
Today I peddled home in the first monsoon of the season, tepid desert raindrops dripping down my elbows instead of sweat. My sunglasses were to keep the rain out of my eyes instead of the sun. I wove through puddles, spitting water and dirt and grit behind me, grinning from ear to ear after having turned down no fewer than 8 offers to drive me home. Are you kidding me? Pass up the first monsoon of the season? No way.
It was just the beginnings of the storm. The rain wasn’t very thick and it didn’t start thundering until I was almost home. I arrived home not-very-drenched and much cooler than yesterday.
The desert does some strange things in the summer. The clouds will appear out of nowhere, billowing across the mountains and spreading over the city, black and rolling. The thunder will rumble and the rain will start, rarely with warning drops. The temperature will drop 30 degrees in 15 minutes.
“High humidity” here is approximately what I used to get in the “dry” winter, and the moisture doesn’t hang around long, sizzling and evaporating off pavement that has been baked in the sun all day. Unsurprisingly, a little bit of water doesn’t dissipate all that stored heat very quickly. But the air does cool down, and I had the odd experience of being in two worlds at once, my head in the cooled air above and my feet in the steam rising off the road.
I expect the grass (weeds) will start growing in my yard again and the cactus will puff up and the flowers will pop out for another round. The ground is still so hard I don’t know how anything grows in it, but grow it does – through the cracks in the sidewalk and around the river rock lining the pathway and across the hard-packed dirt of my backyard.
I have my window open, something I haven’t been able to do for a month or so. I tend to push it to the very last moment before I close the windows, pull the shades and the curtains, and wait for the sun to go down. Lately it doesn’t cool down until 3 or 4 am, so they stay shut and the a/c stays on. But tonight I have the windows open, breeze blowing through, birds chirping in the trees, thunder rumbling in the distance, and the smell of the desert after the rain drifting through the whole house.
Tucson summers are beautiful.