Ah, sporadic sunshine! Now give us a couple of days to dry out… In the meantime, I have more pictures of the critters.
One afternoon, I saw this Rustic Sphinx moth (Manduca rustica). It had probably just emerged from its cocoon and was drying off on a pillar of the back patio. From its head to the back edge of its wings, it was a little more than 3 inches long, and its body was as long and a bit fatter than my little finger — so quite a big moth!
I specifically moved to the Sonoran Desert for the weather, or at least what I imagined the weather would be: hot and dry. That’s how I like it. Other places, such as Sweden, Denmark or even Canada seem like better places to live in general, but they all look so cold and gray (in my imagination), and cold and gray sounds depressing. Besides, it’s going to become increasingly expensive to heat a house to my comfort level (say, 80°F) in any of those places, so here I am.
That said, Arizona is probably heading for a much hotter and much drier climate later in this century, and I’m supposed to be thankful for whatever rain does happen here, and rain it did this winter! I would prefer less, but then my garden likes the rain just fine. I already mentioned that we’re ahead of normal precipitation this spring, and that translates into a bumper crop of wildflowers, many of which were new to me this year.
Rumor has it, Southern Arizona has two gardening seasons: the winter season when we grow root crops (potatoes, carrots, etc.) and the leafy vegetables that burn easily (such as lettuce, spinach & peas), and then the summer season, when we grow tomatoes, beans, peppers & cucurbits (cucumbers, gourds & melons). In my ever-futile attempt to learn how to follow instructions, I planted lettuce, peas, potatoes and carrots in late October.
And then I waited. And waited.
The winter monsoon started. During the winter monsoon, the clouds close in and there is drizzle for about two days per week. At least, this is my impression of the winter monsoon these days. When the total yearly rainfall is around 13.5″, it’s hard to feel like it’s adding up when the weekly value is somewhere between trace and 0.05″. Months went by. The lettuce was barely sprouted; the peas were leggy and pale from lack of adequate light.
The summer monsoon started on schedule the first week of July, and it’s been a pretty good monsoon this year. The NWS has my neighborhood marked at 4.88″ of rain over the last two months, and although it’s slowing down some, there may be a couple more storms before it’s finished.
Between showers, the sage bushes put on another good show.
Many, if not most, inland cities grew up around some kind of water feature — a lake, a river, maybe a spring or even an ancient well. And in many of those cities, especially in the north, the local water feature freezes up in winter, temporarily disrupting water-bourne transport but providing some ice-related entertainments too. Then after the winter has passed, the city might have a nice local celebration when the ice finally breaks up for the season.
Here in Southern Arizona, our local water features work differently, in that we don’t generally keep water in them.