Georgette the Water Bearer

So after heatstroke, what should appear on the horizon, but a tropical storm – dubbed Tropical Storm Georgette by the good people at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. She blew up right off the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, so there was not much time between “All is Clear” and “Oh Shit! Watch out below!” (and yes, I believe “shit” should be capitalized in this case). We didn’t even have time to put the hurricane panels back up. 
The wind began Monday night, while I was still recovering from heatstroke. Trying to put up large pieces of plywood in a stiff wind is never a good idea. Trying to carry them up a ladder onto an unstable awning while recovering from heatstroke is just dumb. So we didn’t.

Tuesday the wind kicked up a notch and there were huge white caps on the sea and big messy waves crashing on the shore. These were not ridable waves, for any of you going down the “Rad man! Let’s go surfing!” path. They were a mess because of the 30-mile per hour winds creating them. The clouds offered welcome relief from the sun’s penetrating rays. Then the rain began, slowly, but persistently, in a nice shower that gradually washed the accumulated dirt from the surrounding desert making the green of the leaves jump out from the blackening background.

At first the rain also cleaned the windows of their coating of salt and dirt that we had yet to wash off, but as the storm progressed and the wind picked up they were dirtied again by more salt and dirt and bits of vegetation swept up from the garden. Soon we could barely see through the crud the storm had seen fit to throw at us.

There is something very special about rain in the desert. It produces a fragrance unlike any I’ve detected elsewhere. It’s sweet and strong, unexpectedly so, like the desert is releasing of a year’s worth of aromas, aromas previously trapped under the sun-baked crust of the earth. With the rain the hardness is softened, scents escaping into the soft, moist air. It never occurred to me that decomposition could smell so good.

Georgette took the west coast route up the peninsula and then veered east above La Paz to join the Sea of Cortez where she began to lose strength. Thanks to the inch and a half of rain she delivered, the desert is alive now with flowers and seedlings that form a carpet of green over the sandy earth.


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