Yesterday morning the sky opened up, and for several glorious hours (well, several off-and-on, but much longer than you might think) it hammered home the insignificance of mankind with simple tools: rain, wind, sound, light. Our apartment has a large skylight which makes the monsoons seem even more imposing, and this is like embodiment of my childhood dreams: storms, only more so.
When I first moved to Arizona and heard people speak of monsoons, I didn’t believe they knew what they were talking about. Monsoons were for India. Southeast Asia. They were the cousin of typhoons. Not desert phenomenons at all. But that just showed how little I knew about the desert. (Admittedly, three years in Phoenix didn’t help the case for Arizona monsoons, much. It’s only since moving to Tucson that I’ve seen desert rain in all its ecstatic glory.)
All throughout this June, I wondered if I dreamed the rains of the previous year (which people assured me, anyway, were light.) The landscape was hot and sere. My skin crumbled. My eyes burned. I said little day-prayers to the monsoons: Please come. Please come soon. But as everyone predicted they would, they waited until July. Almost to the day. They take their time.
This weekend, after a particularly vigorous storm, I waited until well past nightfall to walk the dog; waited until the rain stopped, and the wind died away. (We do walk in the rain, but Paul doesn’t like it, and I don’t like worrying I’ll be hit by lightning. So we were in agreement about that particular delay.) But when I walked outside, there were flashes of lightning in the distance, so bright they looked like bomb blasts, afterburn. And then there was thunder. I ducked, thinking about the lightning drills Dave had to do when he was helping counsel troubled kids in the Utah desert: they had to crouch at least ten feet away from one another, the kids calling out numbers, in order, so the counselors knew if someone ran, the numbers repeating and bleeding into one another. They had to keep doing this for thirty minutes after the last thunderclap.
Paul and I ran home; we’d only made it half a block. Five minutes after we got back inside, the rain started again, fierce and flood-worthy.
I forgot that about last summer: how all the dips and divots in the road become lakes; how some of them never really dry out until the season ends.
Yesterday, I saw several black horned beetles looking dazed, covered in dust, making their way somewhere. I saw none of these before the rains came, and now I see them often. They look purposeful and out of place, like they’ve come to a new world, suddenly. We all look a little like that, in the rain.