Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Arizona Monsoon

One friend insists that I simply call them the summer rains. Monsoons, phooey, is his attitude. Pretentions. Whatever. The fact is that our world changes once the wind direction changes and Arizona is blessed with moisture from the south. Granite Creek (above) turns lush and runs fast muddy waters. Sometimes the gate is closed at the Lincoln Street ford to keep cars from being swept downstream.

The sycamore boles start swelling -- and it's necessary to shed bark. The result is that wonderfully varigated coloring of the trunks.

Those black crumbly growths on rocks turn out to be thick patches of deep green moss. (And it takes the water from the sky to turn the trick. I had mosses on granites in my yard that turned up their toes when I tried watering them with city water. Must be the chlorine they can't take.)

Mud puddles abound. Perfect for kids in their bare feet; nothing like squishing mud through the toes.

And a new suite of plants emerges from the ground; here's a good example, a large plant I choose to call a Five O'Clock, because 1) it is a mirabilis and 2) the flowers open at about 5 in the afternoon. These four o'clocks are large perennial plants which don't do their year's growth until the rains come. Their late afternoon blossoming and the long throats suggest that hawk moths are the target pollinator.

A wild annual that waits for the summer rains -- and then races to produce flowers and seeds -- is the morning glory, here just coming up. Growing in thick patches, the local morning glories come in blue and small red varieties.

(It's curious but I even find it difficult to force domesticated morning glory seeds to come up in well watered pots before the monsoons set in!)

And, of course, the grand finale of the monsoon: the myriad DYCs (damned yellow composites) which wait out the heat to sprout once the rains come and give us golden hillsides in the autumn.


Karen of Scottsdale said...

Thank you for the beautiful photo story. We have had very little rain here. Each evening I await a thunderstorm that doesn't come. Perhaps I should do a rain dance?

catalyst said...

Love your blog, Granny J. I usually read it in the morning and if I have to make a trip into Prescott I look for things you've the metal horses or the destruction of the restaurant at Sheldon and Montezuma.

k said...

My lignum vitae seeds do the same thing. They really do seem to know the difference between getting watered, and getting the Rainy Season. Perhaps they link it with the slant of the sun's rays?

Granny J said...

In Arizona, one doesn't begrudge any place its little bit of rain! So I wish for rain for Karen and everybody else!

And, thank you, Mr. Catalyst. I keep my eyes peeled for goodies -- and I've yet to publish the Viking. An item to really look forward to.

As for the mystic secrets of plant life, I suspect that K's knowledge, based upon her plant rescue work, is deeper than mine!

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