Is It Fall Yet?

Here in Phoenix, monsoon season is officially over when the dewpoint is under 50 degrees for three days in a row. That hasn’t happened yet. But there are signs. It is no longer well over 100 degrees every day. And yesterday, the wind shifted to the West.

Approaching dust storm in Glendale, AZ

Approaching dust storm in Glendale, AZ

That shift came on the heels–or the grains–of a dust storm. It moved incredibly fast. One moment, there was a looming brown cloud and the next moment, the wind began to blow and visibility sank as dust blew across the road. Branches broke off my neighbor’s jujube tree and blew into the pool along with big swirls of dust.

There was a lot of pine straw on the patio, but we don’t have pine trees. At first I thought they came from some other yard, but then I realized that they are the dry parts of our Palo Verde tree. The tiny leaf-stems, which don’t have leaves yet, because it is too dry, look like pine straw. I’ll be raking it up for days.

The dust storm has odd effects–a bad one means you have to change the air filter in your car. Succulents that have cups in their leaves need to have the dirt rinsed off. The tops of trash cans have sand on them.

I wonder where the sand comes from–is it recently picked up from down the street, or is it sand from the Mojave, hundreds of miles away? It’s such an odd feeling to see something so new and see the results.

What I find so odd is that while we are having a dust storm, Texas is drowning in Hurricane Ike. It’s astonishing that these opposites can happen at the same time. Nature is amazing, and I’ll never live long enough to grasp it all.

–Quinn McDonald is a naturalist and a certified creativity coach. She firmly believes that there are lessons nature has to teach us if we will pay attention. See her work at (c) 2008 All rights reserved.