The “dry heat” period will end soon. Monsoon season begins around July 1, and announces itself by a rise in humidity levels. It’s like jumping from the frying pan into the fire, save for the possibility of a thunderstorm. We have had over ten years of drought here, so the storms are rare. Because they are so rare, thunderstorms, in all their glory, are the only thing to look forward to in the heat of July, August, and September. There is nothing quite as beautiful as the huge, dark thunderheads forming on the horizon in the late afternoon, building their mushroom tops as they move closer and closer, holding the promise of rain. Most of the time we get only sheets of heat lightning or a dust storm, but when the rains come, it is glorious! The air cools by double digits and the pungent smell of creosote bushes drifts in from the desert. The next day is especially miserable because of the increased humidity brought on by the rains, but if the thunderstorm was a spectacular one, complete with crashing thunder, giant lightning bolts, and torrents of rain, it is almost worth suffering through the next day.
It seems that those who move here feel compelled to say the heat doesn’t bother them; that they love being outdoors in the scorching sun, and have gladly traded the snow they left for the desert heat. I can understand that trade-off. The remarkable thing is that I’ve met few transplants who seem to appreciate the thunderstorms or the smell of the desert after a rain in the same way that a native Arizonan does. Perhaps thunderstorms and rain were plentiful back in the home state and don’t hold the same fascination as for those who hail from here. But to not appreciate the clean, slightly tarry smell of the creosotes and wet desert earth after a rainstorm? Now that is unfathomable!