From Death to Drenched

The Southern Arizona Summer engulfed us last June, like like the fiery blazes of hell! 120 degrees for days…100+ for a month. The only thing that kept us sane was looking forward to the cooling rains of the Monsoons, officially declared to start on June 15th. Sometimes- I think last year, in fact- they started early. We were hoping the same this year, we desperately needed the rains…the desert was dying!


By the end of June we still had no rain. Not even a hint. The heat was depressingly oppressive!  You know its bad when the drought tolerant/heat tolerant cactus start to shrivel up and die…




We thought this poor agave was a goner!

June dropped off the calendar-still with no rain.We started feeling like the cactus!

But, the 4th of July would be here soon, and we ALWAYS get rain on the 4th!! However, independence day came and went with only the booming of fireworks- not the booming of thunder we had counted on. Aaauuuuughhhhh the agony!

Todd even went to the extremes of putting sprinklers in the yard on some of our cactus to try to salvage some of  them! Something he had never had to do before. We noticed some of our neighbors were doing the same.

It wasn’t until about a week after the 4th, that Monsoon finally arrived! As we watched the lighting streaked clouds come rumbling in, Todd stationed himself on top of the shed to act as a human lightning rod….


Here’s a little taste of the desert monsoon….

An no…Todd was not still sitting on the roof as I shot this!

I wish I could share the smell the rain drenched desert and feel the cool mist floating in the air. A mist that’s created as the rain dances on the parched desert ground. There is nothing like it! The temperature generally drops from 100+ to about 75 in a matter of minutes! The relief is almost euphoric!

Since then, over the past month, it has rained, and rained- one of the best Monsoon seasons we have had in years! Todd has marked over 7 inches of rain so far! Most of the plants that melted with the heat, rebounded!

Here’s the heat ravaged agave- unbelievable that it came back to life!….


Now as Fall approaches, we can enjoy the beautiful desert, revived, refreshed and blooming! We celebrate nature’s gift, even though the ‘dry heat’ has turned muggy and mosquitoes  abound- we raise our glasses to Mother Nature with a toast: “Even though you can be a ‘bitch in heat’ or a frozen mother ‘f’er, when you pour…girl, you Reign!”



Snow What?

Last Monday the facebook posts were flying…It’s snowing in Tucson! OMG! It even made national news! For those who live in snow country, I’m sure you’re like, ‘So what’! But, for us in the lower elevations of the Southern Arizona desert, it really is a special event! The Tucson area is lucky to get snow once or twice a year. I’ve only seen it snow in Todd’s backyard once in the 9 years we have lived here. So, late Monday afternoon when I looked out the sliding doors and saw these huge white flakes of snow gently drifting to the ground, I immediately shut off my computer, built a fire in the fireplace, opened a bottle of wine and grabbed my camera!  Unfortunately, the magical moment couldn’t be captured on camera, as the snow wasn’t sticking and every picture I took just looked like a wet and gloomy day in the desert. And then, just as suddenly as it started, the snow turned back into rain….I went back inside, and back to work.

About 20 minutes later, Todd got home, and seemingly, with his arrival, the snow returned! This time with greater intensity and purpose! Of course, Todd had to go out and brave the ‘blizzard’!


We expected it to stop at any moment, but when it didn’t we were giddy with excitement! We felt like kid’s on Christmas morning!…Like parents witnessing their child’s first step!….Like we had won the lottery!…Ok, ok, I may be getting carried away, but it was exciting when we witnessed the yard gradually growing a little whiter, and  a little whiter!


Little patches of wintery whiteness dusted Todd’s Backyard. The grass in Gerti’s garden was looking particularly wintery…


The snow fell for, maybe, 45 minutes. It never really turned the landscape into an actual winter wonderland. We never had enough to go out, stomp around and make a snowman. But  it was still lots of fun!
Although, I can’t speak for other folks that live around here, especially the ‘snow birds’ that come here to escape the winter weather. I have a feeling that they were not quite so excited about this snow event as we were.

But, I just happened to catch one bird out there that seemed to like it!


Snow, there you go!


A  puffy patchwork of purple and charcoal blue churn in the desert sky. The air is charged with a blend of humidity and anticipation. Critters scurry into their underground refuge. The birds find a strong branch perch. And Todd and I pour a drink and retire to the patio. All await the giant gust of wind and dust that signal the storm to come.

Everything  is very still and quiet. Then, a slight movement catches our eye….

There, behind the blue pot!…It is the creature!

The Creature from the Desert Hollows has arisen and joined us on the porch to announce the arrival of the season. The Monsoon is here!

The storm moves quickly, from the south, and is suddenly upon us. The yard is drenched for several minutes, when the sun breaks from behind the clouds in the west. Still raining, the drops appear as glitter falling from the sky!

It is magical monsoon moments like these that make us swoon!

The next few days hold the promise of more to come. So with camera and cocktail in hand, we will hopefully have some incredible shots of this year’s Monsoon Season!

To be continued…..

The Hell-Bent Storm!

When the Summer Monsoons start building in the afternoons, they often just tease us with some ominous looking cloud formations.Maybe a little lighting and rumbling. And if we’re lucky, a few spurts of rain. When we await these storms with anticipation, Todd’s favorite expression is: “Maybe this will be the ‘hell-bent’ storm, baby!”

So it figures, that after our own personal ‘storm’, (Todd had an appendicitis while we were in Mexico over the 4th of July), a real tempest would be soon to follow….

It began yesterday afternoon. The clouds started to build and the humidity started to rise. It came upon us suddenly. The wind… then rain, then bigger-harder rain, hail…..

You know it’s a good storm, when the house starts rattling with the deafening sound of rain beating on the skylights. We opened all the screen doors and windows…ahhhh so refreshing! With the hail, the temperature plunged about 20 degrees!

But usually, these things stop as suddenly as they start. A 10 minute burst is usually about all we get!

About 20 minutes later…

Our porch soon became part of the wash. The water started rising throughout the yard…

By this time, our power had gone out and we were getting a little nervous as the water kept rising.

The washes that run through the back of Todd’s Backyard were overflowing. It sounded like we were on the banks of a raging river…And we were!

I think the storm may have lasted for about 40 minutes until, the rain turned to a drizzle and the water started to subside. With the power still off and nothing better to do, Todd and I decided to investigate .


The washes ran for a couple of hours.

We even had a little beach front property for a while…

It’s hard to believe all the critters could survive. Perhaps many of them didn’t. We certainly haven’t seen the usual amount of wildlife activity this morning.

As we walked around Todd’s Backyard after the storm, we encountered many drenched birds…

Todd  plucked a baby bird out of the sand where it had been half buried in a wash. It was still alive, so I scooped it up and got it going…

It seemed to be ok after she warmed up a bit and shook all the sand out. She flew off without  being worse-for-wear.

And Todd, not worse-for-wear in Yasar Arafat mode, hobbled around the yard, still recovering from his appendectomy…

So this morning, after surveying the mess, it looks like I get to help Todd with the cleanup. Thank goodness, we didn’t lose any trees, but there are a few that need to be pulled upright. Let’s hope that this is the only hell-bent storm we get this season or for that matter the next decade….I think one is enough!

Quenched & Drenched

We’ve had 4 inches of rain, and still, the monsoons rage across the desert. The ground is soaked, the trees are green, the air is thick and mushrooms of various types are sprouting all over the yard.

I think this might be the wettest season I have experienced since living here! At this rate, Todd’s Backyard is likely to become a jungle!

We actually had a pretty wet winter. This is what the quail pavilion looked like around March…

This is what it looked like this morning! We’re lucky if it gets this green by the end of the monsoons (around mid September). We should have a great crop of prickly pear fruit this fall…mmmm….can’t wait for those margaritas!

I don’t know if the resident wildlife are happy this time of year. I can’t believe it’s easy for all the birds to weather the raging storms. The squirrels must be miserable getting flooded out of their underground homes.  The javelina have to love it…they get a nice bath (which they really, really need!) But for sure, all of the plants and the cactus are getting fat and happy!…Well, maybe…

Our old man cactus looks a little grumpy. But I guess his budding blossom would mean otherwise!

Water Works and Sky Lights

A season to feed the soul…

The monsoons finally got whipped up about 2 week ago, bringing with them dramatic displays of nature and a refreshing break from the heat. This promises to be a pretty good season, Todd’s rain gauge has already documented almost 2 inches.

We love this rainy season! Even when all the patio furniture gets water-logged before we can pull it up under the porch. You can’t get enough…The smell of fresh, moist earth after the rain. The cool mist that brings the temps down about 20 degrees…at least for a brief time. The plants getting fat and lush. The toads invading the yard (mmm… ok, it can live with that)… But most of all, we love the monsoon season because it provides a veritable feast of photo ops!

When the storms start brewing, the cloud formations can make you feel like you’re in heaven on earth!

These views never get old!

It’s quite exciting to see the washes running. There are many washes that run through Todd’s Backyard, the largest runs along the back perimeter.

This is what it looks like normally.

But, when we get a good storm it quickly turns into a raging torrent…

After the rain starts pouring, it only takes a few minutes for the water to get to this point. Then as quickly as the wash fills, it empties, when the rain stops.  When we get a ‘hell-bent’ storm, as Todd likes to call them, the first thing we do, is go run out in the rain and watch the wash run!

Ahhh, and the lightning… another spectacular feature of these temporary tempests!

Unfortunately, we don’t have the best camera for capturing nature’s fireworks. But, we did get this shot of the view from the top of Todd’s shed…would have been perfect, if it hadn’t been so blurry…still kind of cool!

And, of course the rainbows are plentiful!

But, we still haven’t found a pot of gold. Still looking though!

We only have about 2 months left of monsoon mania…

Can’t wait to see the mouth-watering visual vittles this season will serve up!