Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Monsoon Moon

At last the blistering misery of the summer heat is easing slightly.

Before the towering black air castles dump their waterfalls of lifesaving water, we still hibernate in our darkened caverns and pray for surcease. The heat bakes the ground so hard that anything planted wilts to dessicated brown sticks within hours. Animals won't even come out to eat. The air is leaden and breathing is chore-some.

Then the cloud castles crack, sending out their invisible cannonballs and the sky comes alive with a fury of sound and light. Within seconds the curtains of rain descend; slashing the shriveled leaves from their bushes; filling every divot and gully; sending up steam from the baking streets; sluicing down the dusty walls; making rivers of the roads and alleys. Trees and sometimes power poles topple and wires careen crazily across roads and lawns. Palm fronds go whipping past in a flurry of brown-tipped green flotsam.

We run out into the deluge and are instantly drenched and shivering, but it's a welcome chill. We roll up our pants and stomp through the puddles. Court and Bear, on a dare, lie down in the river of muddy water. Luckily there is a shower at the end of their scenario.

Suddenly little pebbles mean nothing to our thirsty feet as we wade down the new stream to the wash, looking for shiny pebbles and strange treasures. The chocolaty water sweeps down the wash and out into a desert delta, past the bike jumps and debris the bikers have left in their wakes. We send leaves and feathers down the streams, hoping to see them emerge downstream. The furthest traveler makes the 'owner' the winner. They jump around screaming and laughing crazily, secretly just trying to soak the others more completely.

The deluge lasts only a few minutes and then the gray sheets move away across the city to fill other washes and roads. Runnels of muddy water trickle down through the labyrinthine patches of prickly pear and mesquite and then, joining other runnels, rush in freshets into the main wash.

Now the air fills with the scent of creosote and sage and hot blacktop. The rivers become streams, then creeks, then tiny runnels, and then they are gone, sucked at last into the thirsty topsoil. The ants come scurrying out to begin once more their endless quest for a fully stocked larder. The doves and quail emerge.

And the toads come out. The air, now, is full of the deep notes of their mating calls. The desert and yards are alive with toady meet-n-greet sessions. Busier streets fill with squashed toad pizzas.

When the sun has set, the mockingbirds begin their random choirs. There is the occasional soft cooing of a dove. Once again the geckos come out near the porch lights to snack on moths. With the passing of the rain, with the exception of an errant breeze, the mercury toils up and up again until we have come full circle.


  1. Thank you! I HAVE to see some good in it. Otherwise I'd be utterly homesick for the cool North and miserable all of the time.