Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Unofficial Last Weekend of Summer

        Labor Day weekend always meant the last weekend of summer when I was a kid in Ohio.   School always started on Tuesday after Labor Day Monday.     All the schools started at the same time back then, too.   The trees wouldn't start turning red and gold until after the first frost, which might not be until late October.   Still, as soon as school started, summer was over.
         Here in the desert, summer isn't much of a treat.   Actually it's a time to leave, if you can. 
         The heat rises from mid-June until August.  Most days are well over 100F.  The really bad ones are over 115F.  You try to do all your outside work (as little as possible) early in the morning.   Same with running errands.   Then it's inside for the rest of the day.   I've made a lot of jewelry this summer in my air conditioned casita. 
         Occasionally we'll get a cool day or two where the temperature drops below 100F.  Whenever there's a little rain, like today, we get excited and frequently walk around in it.  It's very scattered, however, so not everyone will get a shower.   This morning the rain was light and gentle.
         The huge monsoon rains start anytime after July.   I always hate driving in the summer here because you never knew when a storm might pop up.      
        A monsoon storm is totally different from any rain I had seen in Ohio.  A monsoon rain comes down so fast and hard you can't see the road, or even the car, ahead of you.  The roads flood and washes fill with water. The wind howls, kicking up dust, tumble weeds, and who knows what else.   Dust storms are huge walls of dust that completely obscure the road.  They are terrifying. 
        These storms were a real problem when I was working in La Paz County and had a 2 1/2 hour commute each way.  It's very rural there and not much weather forecasting seems to go on.    More than a few times I left Parker when there were sunny skies and no hint of trouble ahead.  But the farther I drove toward home, the darker the sky would get.  I knew I was in for trouble.  
         One of the greatest things about being retired is not having to worry about driving home in a monsoon.   When you're in the city, you can always pull into a lot and park.   But in the country, there's no place to pull off.   The roads are narrow and the shoulder is frequently non-existent.    When the road gets flooded, it's very dangerous.   The water is muddy so you can't see how deep it really is, and it is amazingly swift and strong.   I don't think there have been any deaths this year, but there were last year when a few drivers tried to cross the washes.   I'm very grateful to be spending this monsoon season safely inside.

       Right now raindrops are on the leaves and the temperature is 83F .   Even though it will get hot later today, I'm going to enjoy this little break.  Summer isn't over here, but it's on its way out.  

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