Well, is it?

We have been getting monsoons. It is the greatest balm possible in an Arizona summer. It’s supposed to happen this way: July comes, and the afternoon skies are overtaken by thunderheads, magnificent and daunting heaven-scapes that ultimately explode in thunder and rain.

Last year, we didn’t get any. At least, practically none: a drizzle here, a close-call there. The saguaros (which, if you aren’t versed, are the cartoon-famous armed cacti that grow here; they take hundreds of years to fully develop their many arms; they are our old-growth trees) were suffering this spring, beautifully. Usually they bloom just at the crown, but they were blooming all over, flowers like a pox. I had wondered about it, but several news reports confirmed that the mega blooms were a sign of stress from 2020’s lack of rain.

This year is better. For the past few weeks, every couple of days we have been getting magnificent rains. Sometimes the whole sky turns yellow; often there is tremendous wind. The rain has mostly fallen at night, after dark, and often follows a mostly clear-skied day. We will be sitting around reading or watching tv and suddenly hear thunder. The lightning is so bright and constant you could get a seizure just from watching, but it’s hard not to watch, all that tremendous energy expending itself in the sky, making sense of the concept of gods.

I am happy for the rain to fall at night, because I’m happy for the rain to fall at all; I do have fond memories of daytime monsoons in previous years, watching the streets flood dramatically, the yards fill up like ponds. But there is also enormous pleasure to rain in the dark, how it feels like a release and a curtain dropping, how it changes the world while you sleep. Silence, then: boom. You can hear it rushing off the roof as if into nothingness, the ocean, the sublime. A great clangor from heaven. The rains come.