Desert Clouds

A promise is a cloud; fulfillment is rain. -Arabian proverb-

It was cloudy this morning in Phoenix. Clouds in the desert are like wildlife sightings, rare and invigorating. Since I grew up in the Northwest where clouds hang within touching distance for weeks on end, I have an innate fondness for them, despite the fact that the rain they bring spoils many an outdoor event.
I remember our daughter’s 4th birthday. We had invited all our friends with children for a big picnic and beach day up at Camano Island where my folks lived. It was August and we had high hopes for good weather. That morning we woke to rain drumming on the window. It was pouring. We called my hubby’s brother, who agreed to dress as a clown and entertain the kids for an indoor party. He rented a costume and painted his face so convincingly that he scared the beejesus out of the kids. But he did tie some really great balloon animals and carried the day.
In the desert thick poufy clouds that surely hold rain will be gone without a trace in a couple of hours….like today. Of course that adds to the allure. A veil of clouds at sunup or sundown conjures artistic masterpieces in the sky. And afternoons in the summer when the monsoons come, the clouds pile up in towering masses on the horizon and we watch them and pray for rain. People talk about the heat island over Phoenix, where the expanses of freeways, parking lots and rooftops radiate heat that scours the moisture from the atmosphere, pushing it to the outlying areas that get the drenching we so need. At a conference I attended last summer Brad Lancaster spoke about rainwater harvesting. He teaches the science in the U.S. and the Middle East. He showed slides of neighborhoods in Tucson where native trees have been planted in swales alongside the streets. Rainwater runoff sustains these water-thrifty natives and in turn they provide shade to cool the air and retain moisture. Maybe we will figure out ways to encourage clouds here in the desert. Bringing more sun to the Northwest? Hmmm.

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2 responses to “Desert Clouds

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