Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Desert Is Going to Explode!

by Pa Rock
Nature Lover

It's raining again in Arizona. We have had two heavy rainstorms today, enough to put some serious water across the low spots on the roads, and intermittent light rain the rest of the day. More black clouds are massing on the horizon.

And it rained last night, one of those slow, soft rains that make it so easy to stay in bed.

I am not a native Arizonan (praise Allah!), but I have been here a few years now - long enough to know that all of this wetness is not normal. My yard is like a pebble-covered wet sponge - it crackles and squishes. I haven't had to water any of my new trees in several weeks. Those trees are already showing fresh growth, and my yard cacti are swelling, storing water as fast as their little roots can suck it in.

Big cacti, like the giant saguaro, can be downright dangerous when they take in too much water. While these prickly monsters may reach more than twenty feet in height, their root systems are relatively small. If one suffers from a natural tilt and then consumes several gallons of rainwater, it can tip over. That happened on Luke Air Force Base recently after a long rain. It took several days for the landscape crew to figure out how to remove it. There is also a very popular postcard in Arizona that is an actual photo of an El Camino that is sitting trapped beneath a toppled saguaro. (An El Camino is a Chevy car/pickup from the old days for those of you who are youth-impaired.)

Native Arizonans, when they aren't busy cleaning their guns or molesting farm animals, opine that the desert will explode in color this spring because of all of the winter rain. The cacti will bloom more vigorously, and every desert flower and weed will be showing their colors. Even the rattlesnakes and gila monsters are apt to be more vibrant and colorful with their winter dirt washed off.

If you have always wanted to visit the desert, this spring might be the perfect time to do it. But if you do come, bring plenty of tourist dollars. Times are tough in the Valley of Hell!

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