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Archive for June, 2012

“If the desert is holy, it is because it is a forgotten place that allows us to remember the sacred.  Perhaps that is why every pilgrimage to the desert is a pilgrimage to the self.  There is no place to hide and so we are found.” –Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

I wrote this on June 4th:  “It’s such a cool morning, it’s hard to believe it will be so beastly hot this afternoon.  It’s the kind of morning that’s the start of an excellent road trip, full of possibilities and discoveries.  What a shame to be stuck in an office where the most exciting thing that can happen is likely some misfortune, like someone falling down the stairs again.”

Those cool mornings didn’t last.

This is the time of year I think about the British rulers of India, who always sent their women to the mountains in the summer.  June is my least favorite month. Like India, we have monsoon rains, and the deadly heat is necessary to set up the monsoon season.  But the intense heat seems like a heavy price to pay for the rain and the mild winter.  Of course, I complain about the cold in the winter, too.  We don’t have short-sleeved winter days anymore like in the seventies when my parents moved here.

I have never done well in heat, even when I was young.  I get nauseous when I’m hot, my face gets all red, and it drains me of energy.  You can always put more clothes on when it’s cold, but there’s only so much you can take off, in public anyway.  It’s like the Wisconsin winter.  I just want to hibernate/stay in my house.

It was always my intention to move to California.  The almost-perfect weather is surely the main reason so many people live there.   But I realized I could never afford it without roommates, and I did not want to live like that.

But Arizona has not felt like home since my father died, perhaps even before that when my mother did.

I bought a book of essays and poems by southwestern women writers, thinking that it might re-kindle my appreciation of the desert.  It did the opposite.  It made me realize anew how deadly it can be.

There are devil winds that spin the sand into dirt walls that cause pileups on the highway. There is scorching dry heat that can suck the life out of you if you’re not prepared or you get lost.  A couple of weeks ago two young women died while hiking in the Tucson mountains in separate incidents.

The monsoon can be dangerous, too, with sudden, blinding walls of water that can wash away trees and boulders.  But when you’re home on a Saturday afternoon and don’t have to go anywhere and the first rain you’ve seen in months comes pouring down and the thunder and lightning isn’t too close, it can be glorious.  And the sunset can be, too.

Monsoon Sunset

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