Sunday, July 09, 2006


Rain in arid country is a difficult phenomenon for those in better- watered terrain to understand. We obsess over it, and always hail it despite its destructive force. Who cares if the roof leaks a little? In such climates all but the newest always will-- heat and freeze and dry and wet will see to that. And long- time inhabitants of desert places don't cross flowing flash floods in dry "river" beds and so do not lose their vehicles. They know it will go down in an hour or so anyway.

I remember seeing my first such in about 1980, during a dove hunt. As three feet of muddy water boiled over the track we had just crossed, young Philip Mansell noticed the look of astonishment on my face and said: "Doesn't the water do that in Massatooshets?"

For the last five years New Mexico has been in a serious drought-- actually the last wet year was 1987, but we had our July "monsoons" (for various technical reasons they really aren't but that is what everyone calls them) until five years ago. For about a year we have had none-- a light shower last October for a half- hour and a snowfall of the same length that did not get this "low"-- 6500 feet-- were our only precipition in about a year and a half. And we are not even true desert-- just high arid grassland under higher (almost 11,000 feet) dry forested mountains.

The hordes of coastal suburbanites who are buying up former ranchland in "ranchette" subdivisions LOVE this weather, even as wildlife, ranchers,and stock all suffer and the Forest Service (who have deliberately or accidentally set every fire in the two nearest ranges in the last three years) forbid the public use of their forests, even if we do not set fires. Something had to give, and it did.

We have had four days of intermittent to heavy rain! Thunder, lightning, flowing roads, glorious skies!

We went out in the aftermath of yesterday's storm and took pictures and toasted it, while rancher neighbors stopped by while doing the same.

Now to hope for, say, two more thunderstorms this week. Spadefoot toads need their noise and vibration and flooding added to warmth to wake them and propel them into the temporary pools in which they breed.

And if we have "frogs" we will probably have Boletus edulis. I will blog on both if they emerge.

The Albuquerque newscasters and yuppies are moaning and I heard a recent transplant complaining she didn't move here for rain. You know what? We didn't ask for you-- go back "home", or to the Mojave. We need rain more than we do you.


Peculiar said...

Check out the recent hydrograph for Ute Creek out in eastern New Mexico!
(Link will go stale; the punchline occurred on July 6th and 7th.) A lot of other watercourses in the state (Arizona too) had similar spikes, but that's the perkiest one I've found.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful observations. Your words are as emotionally refreshing as the rain to parched ground.

mdmnm said...

And we're still getting it, at least up Metropolis (Abq) way. Here's hoping for another couple of weeks' worth and a decent grouse season to boot!
Mike Murphy