Sunday, May 19, 2013

The color purple (or green or gray or blue)

People have asked me how hot it is here. I would ask the same thing. It's Arizona, it's the desert, and it's close enough to summer to touch. But it's not hot at all, yet. From what I hear, it's going to be blistering but we're not there yet.

What we are is windy. We're so windy I have to close the vent over the fan in the roof or it would be ripped from its hinges. There's enough wind to push me a foot or so over on the road when I'm out walking, to make me tie my hat on or have to take it off. Enough to whip branches on trees as though they were string and not wood, whistle through open windows, and rock the van. I've never lived in a place so consistently windy in the afternoon. It wasn't like this when I got here but as we've progressed toward summer and the desert heats during the day, the wind awakens.

What often accompanies the wind is a dramatic sky. One evening last week the neighbors and I were sitting around, watching a storm over the desert. As the clouds blackened and grew, they pushed powerful gusts of air toward us. Great dark clouds moved eastward, sometimes filling the sky, other times allowing blue to come through. We watched until a light rain compelled us inside. Yesterday afternoon a flat plane of threatening clouds hung over the Painted Desert, pushing gust after gust. They morphed to ragged strips of varying gray but the wind persisted.

A small portion of the Painted Desert taken from the historic Painted Desert Inn.


Rarely has it rained, maybe a smattering, enough to speckle Grace right after I washed her, but a couple of weeks ago I woke to heavy rain in the night. Within a day or two, what an amazing sight to see that the floor of the Painted Desert was a green haze.

The sky here is sometimes the purest Southwest blue, sometimes leaden with unfulfilled promises of rain, and sometimes cluttered with flat-bottomed white puffs, but it's always wider than wide, from horizon to horizon. This part of Arizona, at least, has a 180 degree bowl arced over it, changing by the minute and always eye-catching, enough to make you pause to look. It's as much the Big Sky state as Montana.

I'm waiting for the impressive, theatrical thunderstorms that come with summer. I can't wait. When I was a girl our father always called thunder, whether deep rolling rumbles or the whip-crack that accompanied lightning, sky booms, and I was never afraid of storms. How could anyone be afraid of sky booms? I wonder if they sound the same in Big Sky Arizona. I'll keep you posted.

Thought of the day:

I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it. (Alice Walker)