Monday, December 28, 2009

Sun and Sand

The winter sun in Arizona crosses the sky, from horizon to horizon, at a sharp angle. No longer directly overhead, blistering hot, the winter sun is nonetheless intense. Blinding rays blast relentlessly into car and house windows for hours as it crosses the southern sky, east to west. Visors are not made for this angle of blaring light. Closing curtains and blinds is mandatory to tolerate being in the house and avoid fading furniture and artwork. The Sonoran Desert offers some 340 days of sun.

Sand is another constant in the desert. Sand comprises most of the soil content, the ground is harsh to any but the most tolerant and hardy of growth. Cacti, shrub trees, some amazing flowering bushes. Sand is the color of the earth and homes. Sand refuses to absorb water, which runs off in dangerous currents until it finds some places to stop, or evaporate in the dry air. And when the wind blows, which it does every time the weather is changing - storms blowing in, change in temp. whatever, the wind howls up to 50 miles an hour. For a day or more. And of course the sand, because there is nothing to hold it in place, blows with that wind.

Sand blots out the mountains, obscures the sun, creeps into every crevice, layers clothes on closets, scratches windows, peels paint off of cars, and brings in illness and disease from whatever animal excrement lies in that sand.

A week ago we had horrible wind and terrible sand storm. While the Midwest was suffering from blizzard and snow we were suffering from wind and sand. Sadly this storm proved to be fatal. A 24 car pile up happened on the main highway between Tucson and Phoenix, a fiery fatal accident that took the lives of one adult and teen aged sister (17) and brother (14). The highway closed down for some 12 hours. And the next day, when I had to make that drive from Tucson to Phoenix, I was horrified to drive through the debris of burned black semi's and cars, melted together, so intense was the fire.

I think often, and pray, for that family who lost their daughter and son two days before Christmas. Who lost them in such devastation. I don't know who the adult was, I think the semi driver...that person too, I pray for.

The photo on my header was taken that day, the day that wind and sand obscured the sun. A reminder that the very things that are normal to life here in the desert are also the very things that take life.


Sherry said...

Each region seems to have it's own natural disasters,and we don't always think others are as bad as ours. Dust storms don't seem all that bad, but obviously they are destructive and dangerous as well as being a general nuisance! Take care Terri,

Presbyterian Gal said...

But we have to keep reminding ourselves that this mortal coil is only temporary and intentionally so. Whatever awaits beyond is so much more and bigger and forever. It's rather like just our pupa state.

Bad Alice said...

Your description brings back memories of living in Phoenix. I love the desert, but it's brutal - the heat, the poisonous animals, the flash floods and monsoon winds. I've been in downpours that terrified me. Talk about elemental.

RevDrKate said...

Those of us who live in the Great Blizzard land tend to think we have the corner on weather suffering. A good reminder that nature calls the shots and we need pay attention to our safety and smallness before her where ever we are.

Jan said...

Stark scenes. The only time I was ever in Arizona was the five weeks I spent at The Meadows in August 1995. Heat is all I remember, no dust storms.

Homily for the Festive Eucharist at the closing of the Episcopal Women's Caucus

The readings that we chose for the service tonight were all picked specifically for this service because they lift up the role of women ...