Albuquerque, New Mexico is high desert. It is at the tippy top of the Chihauhuan Desert which is mostly in Mexico, but flows up the Rio Grande Valley. This allows a wonderful, miraculous thing to happen every summer. Just when the summer gets really hot and unbearable, moisture flows into Mexico from the Gulf to the East, or the Gulf to the West, and flows landward; it hits the mountains and mixed with all the heat, forms thunder heads which rain on the dry lands. Because of the mountains of the continental divide, this weather pattern comes north into Arizona and New Mexico. It doesn't really so much move, like storms across the great plains - it blossoms, it bubbles up, and then it pours down.
The people who have lived here the longest call these the male rains. They are blustery, and involve a lot of lighting and thunder. Winter rains, female rains, are less dramatic. Winter rains are also more prudent, and stockpile in the mountains in the form of snow and feed the valleys for months. And just when that winter bounty runs out, the noisy, fast, loud rains come. This is when you need to stay out of the arroyos. Believe the Earth. When you see what looks like a riverbed, believe it is a riverbed at least sometimes. If you pitch you tent on that nice flat sandy ground, when the daddy rains come he can make you very sorry.
The National Weather Service calls these rains monsoons. They are regular and yet notoriously difficult to predict in the specific. They can be very specific. Your neighbor an acre away can be experiencing a microburst that drops a couple of inches of rain in minutes and might include hail. You can watch this from sun-drenched, thirsty ground. Today may not be your day - tomorrow you may be bailing out the garage. We are on the edge of a Mesa with a view of the mountain. She gets wet more often than we do. We watch her and try not to be envious.
The first rain, whenever it come to you, is joyous. If you are oriented to your place, you go out and stand in it, or even dance a bit.
Every day we watch for the clouds to build. The monsoon is like a toddler working up to a fit. Sometimes he gets distracted, and calms down. Sometime he reaches full torment. Sometimes it's over the top and gets destructive. You never know.
You plant your beans and corn and squash and you hope.
But this you should know. You can't do anything about it. You can stay out of the arroyos, but you cannot make the rain come to your beans. This is a higher power. The oceans and the mountains and the deserts are old hands at this. This is an earth loving - life giving - somewhat dangerous - process. You can pray, and hope, and dance. But it is not about you. You cannot control it. Life itself is not really controlling this.
But I tell you,
love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of God.
God who causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good,
and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
- Jesus, according to Matthew.
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