Sunday, July 20, 2008

Monsooooooon Lightning

A quick post to commemorate the beginning of the Monsoon season in Southern Arizona.
Prior to this year, the Monsoon season began on the third consecutive day that the dew point (a different way to measure humidity, or how much moisture the air is holding) was 54 degrees or higher. The average start has been July 4. But this year, the National Weather Service decided that was too complicated and decided that the Monsoon season would officially start on June 15, no matter what the weather actually was.
I dunno. I kind of liked the season starting when mother nature says so. HOWEVER, a look at these two photos makes it abundantly clear that the Monsoon is here and now.
These shots were taken Saturday night from our back patio. I stayed out until the lightning appeared to be getting a little too close. They say that if you can either hear or see it, head for cover.
It also amazes me that people still insist on driving into road dips and even running washes. It only takes 6" of running water to lift a car off of the road and into a wash. Saturday night's Monsoon storms resulted in two water rescue attempts. Unfortunately, one person still hasn't been found and the search has been suspended. Probably the first Monsoon fatality of the season.
It's an amazing part of America, so very different from the North East. We've still got so much to learn, thank goodness!

Friday, July 4, 2008

An Ordinary Snake Plant, but not to me.

This is the story of an ordinary looking snake plant. But this is no ordinary plant. Not to me.
The story starts back in the mid 1950s. My parents owned a retail store called the Carriage Corner in Brooklyn. Now the Carriage Corner was many things to many people, but it wasn't a store that occupied a corner. It surrounded the corner. The actual corner store was something else. In the mid 50s, my Dad had the opportunity to grab that middle corner portion and he did, thus making the store true to its name. As a good luck gift, someone gave my Dad the plant pictured above, which now sits in our living room in Tucson.
The snake plant lived happily (I hope) with our family in Rye Brook for many years. When we moved to Tucson, we didn't trust the movers to take it, so along with Monica's Dads Christmas Cactus (as near as Monica can ascertain, this one is from the 1930s,) my snake plant and of course Bisbee, I drove cross country. I bonded with all the other three living entities in the car. I had much to say over the 2400 odd miles or so. But I really had to keep the conversation going alot of the time. I'm not complaining. My passengers were excellent company.
So, aside from age, aside from lineage, aside from bonding, what's so special about the
snake plant?
A couple of things.
Now, this is the first and only snake plant I've ever owned. So I'm no Sansevieria expert, but some years ago we noticed an incredibly sweet floral aroma emanating from our Rye Brook kitchen. I wondered what outdoor plant we were aurally admiring when suddenly we realized that it was the ordinary looking snake plant, parked safely under a kitchen window. Now, I don't know about your snake plant, but this one faithfully throws up a sticky, sweet smelling stalk nearly every year now. I mean the aroma can stop you in your tracks! It's wonderful. Maybe they all do this. I don't know.
But, there's something else that I haven't mentioned yet. It's the second thing that makes this snake plant very special to me.
My father and mother were born and raised in England. Now, there are many Brits that came to our shores. I know of two of that share the same birthday (I'm sure there are many others,) and that particular birthday, to me, is full of wonderful irony.
Bob Hope is one or them.

My Dad is the other.
That birth date is July 4.
This picture to the right was taken July 4.
This ordinary snake plant has sprouted its sweet smelling stalk nearly every July 4 since it started sprouting flowers so long ago. Year after year after year......

Happy birthday Dad.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Queen of the Night

Yes, it's that time of the year. The air is heavier with moisture as the Monsoon envelopes the Sonoran Desert. The temperature soars into the upper 90s or low 100s. Why do we endure this? Many reasons, and here's one of them.

The beautiful and VERY fleeting Cereus flower. I'm sure we all remember the more popular name, Peniocereus greggii (he's got to be kidding!) But anyway, the fact of the matter is, this plant only blooms one night each year and the one in our front yard chose RIGHT NOW! Oddly enough, Tohono Chul Park's huge collection (the largest in the world maybe) chose tonight as well. Maybe these guys communicate telepathically, but for what ever reason, I'm sure glad we can enjoy this wondrous and unique sight from the Sonoran Desert.