Saturday, July 18, 2009

Wind

One of the things people tell you about when you first move to Tucson is the wind. Now, I grew up in the Northeast with blizzards and nor'easters and the occasional hurricane, so I assumed they were just exaggerating. But then there's a storm like the one that blew through last night and you understand that the wind here has its own personality, unlike anything you've experienced before.

Often the first sign that there's a storm coming in is that the wind picks up. Trees sway, dust devils dance and you start to hear a whistling sound as it cuts around buildings and through slits under doors and poorly sealed windows. The sky darkens as the clouds move in from the Mogollon Rim, lifting over the Catalinas to the north, losing their meager moisture in the cooler air. Lightning crackles across the sky, followed by a rumble of thunder. You think at last you're going to get some rain to soothe the parched ground and fill the scorched leaves with moisture again. But all you get is the wind, stronger now, bending trees almost double, gusting to near hurricane strength. Dried mesquite pods fly through the air, blossoms are stripped from the Texas rangers, power poles topple, plunging thousands into darkness and the heat of a Sonoran summer without air conditioning. The metal garage door vibrates like some harp from hell as the wind assaults the house.

You find yourself willing the rain to start, knowing that the wind will stop once the collision between air masses passes, but sometimes there is no rain. All you get is the wind, endless wind, driving wind, howling wind. Finally, it eases, the storm passes and you find yourself breathing again. Until the next time, when you get to go through it all over again.
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