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The monsoons of old-time, and modern Phoenix, Arizona


The Sonoran Desert, which is where Phoenix, Arizona is, gets rain two times in the year - gentle rains in the winter, and thunderstorms in the summer. The term that locals have been using for as long as I can remember is "monsoon".

Whether the term monsoon was originally said in a sarcastic way by radio personalities in Phoenix or not, I really don't know. I'm inclined to think it was, because a real monsoon, like the type that the tropics gets, goes on steadily day after day after day. In Phoenix it can ran hard, especially in the summer, but it usually stops very quickly. I grew up in Minneapolis, and I remember it raining day after day, all night and all day, and the next day, and the next night, and that's really what monsoon weather is like. Although I'd never heard the word monsoon in Minneapolis. It was just called rain. Lots of rain. Lots and lots of rain.

I'm no expert in weather, but I know that it fluctuates. There can be rainy years, and dry years, and that's true everywhere on the Big Blue Marble. I do know that the Sonoran Desert began about 10,000 years ago, when the last Ice Age ended, so it's reasonable to assume that the weather has been roughly the same - hot, with thunderstorms in the summer and gentle rains in the winter.

I don't have any old photos of the big fluffy thunderstorm clouds in old-time Phoenix. Film cost money, and if people went to the trouble of using a camera, they really didn't photograph just clouds. I took the pic at the top of post on impulse, with my phone. So I suppose future generations will have plenty of photos of things like that, and people's lunches, or whatever trivial things people photograph nowadays.

Growing up in Minneapolis, rainy days were depressing. As a kid, I just hated them, because you can't play in rain, and it was often cold rain, which is just awful. In Phoenix my experience is different. It seems like rain puts people in a good mood in Phoenix, and when it rains in the summer it's a pleasure to get caught in.

Right now I'm wishing it would rain. Rain in the desert is a magical thing! If you've ever smelled it, you know.

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