Friday, July 09, 2004


The monsoon has arrived.

This afternoon's brief showers over northern Arizona signal the arrival of the annual weather pattern we so grandiloquently name for its big brother in other lands. I think the local definition states merely that the relative humidity reaches 50%.

Desert state that we are, any event that concentrates moisture is a big deal. Rainfall is normally scarce and we've been in an extended draught to boot. Life here depends on rain, much as we modern, techno-savvy humans like to think we're somehow separate from the ebbs and flows of the natural world. I have no doubt that, in places like the arid western US, at least, water will become the new oil, in terms of precious commodities, in the very near future. The Colorado River, lifeblood of the west, is overbooked by the seven states that lay claim to its liquid wealth. I think that little, if any, water makes it to the Sea of Cortez anymore. BTW, there's a great book on the subject of water and water politics in the western US. Sadly, the author died in 2000. A sequel to his 1986 book could not be more timely.

There is increasing talk, locally and statewide, of the need for more water projects and, in any case, of water shortages and imminent crises; yet the developers keep building and, predictably, the people keep moving here and buying what they build. It always amazes me (though perhaps it shouldn't) how local governments and regional authorities continue to sell out to the Almighty Dollar in their insatiable quest for increased revenue, approving water-sucking golf course "communities" (there's an insulting misuse of a word) as though we lived in the tropics.

Hey, guys--- get it through your thick, money-addled skulls: this is a fucking desert! Water is more precious than gold here!

They'll counter with some crazed notion of towing icebergs from the Arctic or something equally lunatic, some deus ex machina technosolution that will allow us to continue on our blundering, ignorant way, heedless of cost and consequence. Meanwhile, any day of the week, you can find the proles out there hosing their driveways, completely oblivious to the absurdity of their actions, utterly disconnected from the tangible truth of their environment.


I went up on my rooftop deck tonight, in the cool post-storm air. Crisp air, fresh and delicious, washed of all its dusty sins. The stars are sharp as fresh-cut diamonds, the Milky Way a meandering river of light. I can smell the rejoicing of the land, how this brief moisture has awakened everything, opened the pores of the earth and brought it alive again, unshackled the crust of life that so doggedly makes it home in this harsh aridity. Thank God the monsoon has come again...


At 7/10/2004 5:17 AM, Blogger tess said...

It's fun to imagine feeling so much gratitude, for as much rain as falls just about every other day up here in the misty Northwest.

Yes - the Colorado has not reached the sea for the last five years, if I remember correctly, or at least for the last few. It is not expected to this year.

Here's an interesting corrolary question: if water will be the new oil, will Canada be the next Iraq? Ontario has 25% of the world's fresh water, afterall. Easier to annex, because they're so darn close, all we need to do is manipulate their elections so that they will agree to supply the US with all the fresh water we need. Say, Canada, we've got these nifty new voting computer systems, just used them in our 2004 elections and they did a great job ...

Oy am I feeling cynical this morning. Glad to be alive, and much appreciative of Algy's beautiful prose, but cynical.



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