Monsoon season in the desert is a sight to behold: clouds mushrooming behind mountain ranges, normally placid skies sporting swollen cumulus columns, and dry washes transformed to churning rivers in a matter of minutes.
It may not be every desert dweller’s favorite time of the year, but we relish the sustaining drops of water – even the humidity – and the transformation of the desert afterward. Of course, there are often prices to be paid when the storm season rolls in, and the transformation is not always beautiful:
Below is a video of the hill behind hubby’s ham shack (my sometimes-writing office), transformed into a waterfall, with lots of water headed toward the septic clean-out and our house.
Almost always with these summer monsoon bursts, there is also power loss. In fact, the poor infrastructure supplying our electric guarantees it. So, we plan as best we can …
Mother Nature, the jokester that she is, decided to wallop us with wind, rain, and sideways-falling hail exactly one hour before book club (see above paloverde and mountain river). She did, however, wait a few hours until after the pie was baked. Smart gal!
Like any group of serious book lovers, we decided: “the show must go on,” even as our homes’ electrical currents did not. On Laurel’s screened-in patio, we scrambled for slight breezes, even though they were wet with humidity. We drank wine, ate chile relleno, tostadas, fresh fruit and brownie pie (the food was cold and the drinks were warm, but we didn’t care).
As we discussed The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow on the silent screened porch, the desert was hushed, but somehow louder. Few cars traveled the main road a quarter-mile behind us, and the smattering of houses over distant hills were dark and silent. Coyote chirps sounded in the wash below, barn owls hissed from one tree to another, and as the night wore on, the nocturnal Sonoran Desert toads emerged – trapped beneath packed soil for much of the year, but now awakened by the rains. Their cries of rebirth punctured the darkness, a mewling-type croak: part ewe, part bullfrog.
It was magical.
Until the next morning when we still had no power, and our refrigerators and freezers were growing warmer, the threat of losing food quite real.
Flash forward to 20+ hours of no electric (and me, operating on 2.5 hours of sleep), indoor temperatures of 90, outdoor humidity at 55%, the sun blaring. Not much fun anymore.
To try to cool down, I built myself a nest in the bed of the Polaris under the breezeway. I have to be honest: the thought of doing anything other than breathing was painful at that point.
By the time night fell again, we were at 28 hours of powerless living. Hubby, being the MacFryver that he is, rigged up some temporary solutions (before his wife went insane, and the cats’ spots melted into puddles).
And then… ten minutes after Hubby MacFryver fixed it all up: the power came back on! Of course.
As the skies rumble outside at this very moment of writing, and the soft pitter-patter of rain hits the skylight, I wonder: were we really powerless – or were we, in some ways, empowered? Empowered to see how reliant we are on electric, how quickly the balance can change between man and nature? How beautiful silence can sometimes be and the things it allows us to hear (True confession: I’m not sure I could have gone more days in that kind of heat).
What I find most amusing, however, is that this power outage became a reading and writing adventure for me: an unforgettable book club evening, a reading retreat under a welcomed breeze, and writing about a storm during a storm.
For Readers: Have books ever come to your rescue? In what ways?
For Writers: Have difficult situations you’ve personally experienced ever inspired your fiction?