Thursday, August 19, 2010


Monsoon season in the desert is a season of excess - too much heat, too much water at one time, and too much humidity. In the San Judas grocery store, the owner wipes his forehead and says, “Mucho calor! Muy húmido!” Agreeing, I am reminded that we all suffer through this season together.
Drunk on the monsoon rains, the weeds stagger higher and higher, until they are chest high, then neck high. If I go outside in the silence of night, I swear I can hear the rustling sound of their growing. Will they stop? Is there a natural size limit?
Our yard, which was clean and sober just two weeks ago when Dan and Tracy left looks like the Amazonian rain forest when we arrive. This is what happens when we are away too long in the summer. Things lurch about as they choose, without any organizing direction. Nature reverts to nature.
Where is the avocado tree? It is surrounded by a stand of weeds, and I can’t even find it! As I look eastward, I can’t tell what is in the planter along the wall and where the weeds end that are standing beside it. They blend together so I can’t even see the wall.
 The trumpet plant, a runty little start-up a year ago is now taller than I am, it’s unruly branches going in every direction. Note to self: that thing needs a trim! Even the wild chiltepín plant that Theresa gave me now stands chest high.
  Our friend Beto tells us that so far there have been about 9” of rain this monsoon – that’s more than fell during all of last year. I should have known. On the road from Magdalena to Sinoquipe, it was like riding through a tunnel of green. The farmland and mountains on the way to Baviácora shine like emeralds in the sunlight.  
  I once read that the human eye is most sensitive the yellow-green color. This surely has survival value - in the green are food and shelter and even water. Seeing green well allows us to distinguish that which is not green: prey, enemies, danger. 
As a desert dweller of 45 years, I find green a soothing, relaxing color. I can look at it without squinting, and it somehow reassures me that all is right with the world. Its sudden appearance each year with the advent of the monsoons is like the first intake of air after holding one’s breath for a really long time. Ah yes. Life will go on for another year…the cycle continues, the cool season will come.
So far this year, the monsoon storms have crept in while I have been asleep, and I have missed the drama. I have been wishing for a storm I could experience in the waking state.  Be careful what you wish for – last night my wish came true. The result was greater than I could have imagined.  As we chatted quietly with Tom and Lynn at their Los Arcos de Sonora Hotel, the power went on and off, on and off, and finally we lit candles and settled into the stifling darkness. Then, we heard the telltale grumblings in the distance. When a gentle rain started, we all headed for the outdoor patio to cheer it on. 
The storm moved closer, and suddenly it was on top of us. Water gushed from the sky. “A regular toad-strangler,” Tom declared. A brilliant red bolt of lightning went directly from the cloud to the ground just behind the building. The answering roar was deafening and immediate. Icy terror rose up, my hear beat faster,and I had a sudden urge to run into the house. 
                                                       Watch the storm with us!!
I love the monsoons. The raw uncontrolled energy seems to pour through me and purify my connection with the natural world. I am one with the storm and the land. I tremble in fear, and yet I am in held in place by awe. It is as if  I  am standing naked before God.
The lightning comes so furiously that it becomes a strobe light. The streams of water pouring from the roof canales separate into gigantic individual drops, silver and electric blue. The thunder becomes a non-stop roar. Finally, what we have all been waiting for – the cool, droplet-laden air begins to find us on the patio. Aaahhhhh…….the heat is temporarily broken, and we revel in the delicious freshness.
In the wake of the storm, we see many tiny bufo toads. (See June 27, 2010 post) As I head into the garden to weed, there is an old 5 gallon paint bucket with an inch of rainwater in it.  At the bottom is a small bufo. I gently pour him out onto the ground, and he grips the earth with green and white fingers so he can hop away.
On the road back to Banámichi from Hermosillo we see an entire hatch – thousands and thousands - of small white butterflies heading south over the road.Why south?  In the evening, thousands of small black insects - all the same species - collect near the outdoor lamps at Los Arcos Hotel. The wall is black with them. Tom vacuums them up to keep the place looking tidy. The excesses of the rainy season!  The numbers speak to the fragility of so many short lives. Enough butterflies and insects need to survive to fulfill their ecological function. I don’t know what that is….perhaps providing food for birds? Pollinating some plant? There are no clues. Nature keeps her own counsel. .