She came into the world squalling and wet in June when the summer monsoon breached the desert, dragging blankets of cloud across the foothills to release their bundle on cactus and mesquite. The air was creosote, not the oily pungence of waterfront pilings and railroad ties but the fresh citrus tang of crushed hops.
The monsoon greeted our arrival with its concoction of wind and wet, pulled from the warm currents of the Gulf of Mexico and Sea of Cortez. As the air mass poured out of the southern seas and sheathed every blade and thorn with dew in the early morning darkness, Arizonans would rise and open their million windows to breathe their first rations of relief from the heat. The damp tsunami rushed northwest across the scorched desert, raising the scent of leaf and earth from stucco McMansion to adobe flat to mobile-home ramada. Some drank the first raindrops from upturned faces. Some sipped them with lifted arms and bared skin. All abandoned their rooms and offices and cars. Tropical monsoon with fat, cold drops like pumice stones. Mountaintop monsoon with retina-searing flash and detonations that weaken the knees and quicken the blood. Monsoon with a sweet mist that dollops follicles. Monsoon with storms of dust and hail pelt like that called down from heaven by an Old Testament prophet
In the desert, the fortunate rejoiced with the sheeting deluge while their neighbors looked on with envy. Such is the fickle nature of monsoon. And we, too, searched the horizon for billowing white and walking rain. With this yearly onset from the tropics, all Arizonans dream the same dream. We dream of green.