“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.”
Poet Muriel Rukeyser

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.