June 1, 2017

Took a walk to the mailbox the other day and felt that little familiar change in the air – that hint of humidity that gets the Texas sage going with that familiar, musky smell. Looking north and northeast you could see beyond the mountains thunderstorm clouds piling up in their familiar whites and grays, and to the southeast more storm clouds far, far in the distance. Up in Flagstaff to the north and Tucson to the south they’d be getting rained on, for sure.

Once you get to June the monsoon season here in the Valley of the Sun is not far away. Couple weeks from now and on any day until the end of September, perhaps even a little beyond that, you could get afternoons ranging anywhere from just breezy and dusty to big winds and haboobs, from small localized thunderstorms with or without rain to big ones with downpours and/or hail and microbursts that uproot trees and take down limbs on one block and leave the next one unscathed. Unlike back home in Massachusetts where the thunderstorms tend to line up along a cold front, here in the Valley they can pop up anywhere and at a moment’s notice. And on any given night, you can stand out in the warm dusty air, the crickets chirping in a loud chorus, chilled glass of Pinot Grigio in hand and see flashes and streaks off in any direction, sometimes in multiple directions, and watch the heavens flash and streak, sometimes with grumbling thunder, sometimes with just the sniff of electricity. And no matter whether the storms are big or small, or far in the distance or creeping up ever so slowly on the Accuweather radar, they always rekindle in my mind a sense of awe and wonder, and the soft, sentimental memories of days long past growing up in a family of thunderstorm hounds who would gather on our front porch at the first hints of a storm coming.

Right around this time every year I do a sight check of all our queen palms to see where they are in their growing cycle. There’s nothing you can do about it one way or the other, but it’s always nice to see the new stalks that have been growing out of the tops since April turning into palm branches, because stalks tend to break in the first strong winds of the monsoon. The three palms planted in triangular fashion in the southeast corner, ranging from giant to medium to small, always seem to do pretty well; it’s the palm situated in the middle of the backyard along the south wall that always seems to struggle: it’s growth cycle is just a tad slower than the others, meaning that its stalk is never quite far enough along by the time the monsoon starts. The last two years its stalk has broken, but this year it looks a little closer to palm branches, and I’m hoping in the next week it will be safe from the strong and dusty winds that will inevitably come.

It’s the wind chimes on the back patio that typically sound the alarm that there is weather coming in. You walk out outside knowing that warm blast of air is going to hit you, the ceramic tile floor still warm from the triple-digit day, the air filled with the rustle of palm branches and wind chimes, and the moon above looking like a dissolving Alka Seltzer tablet through the cloud cover. The bottle of Sam Adams Summer Ale starts to sweat in the hand, and the happy pineapple lights shine softly above. I look at the Tiki bar waiting for a visitor and think just how lucky I am to live in a place I could never, ever have dreamed of growing up in the Merrimack Valley back in Massachusetts. Warm nights, swimming pool, palm trees, Tiki bar? I know it took me a long time to embrace life here in the Valley of the Sun, but I have, and coming monsoon season is my favorite time of the year.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:49 | Comments Off on If The Calendar Flips To June It’s Nearly Time For The Monsoon
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