Date: August 18, 2022
I hope this late season newsletter finds you enjoying the long days and short nights of summer. As for me, I have joined the masses and tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 after three years of successfully avoiding it. Suddenly the idea of wearing a mask to keep the virus out has changed and I am instead wearing my mask to keep the virus contained. The experience inspired a ditty:
A Gasp for Air
Breathing through a mask,
Gasping for a breath of fresh air.
Try to stay on task,
Staying safe in a world of despair.
I do what I can to stay well,
Contained & socially distant.
It’s hard to catch my breath in hell.
Without being persistent.
Wearing a mask, an N ninety-five,
I try to avoid making a scene,
Hoping I can somehow stay alive,
In the time of COVID-nineteen.
Write253 continues to offer an amazing Summer program for Pierce County teens! Check out the website for more information about this amazing organization, and show your support by checking out Line Break Press Monthly Postcard Subscription. Get a sweet new LBP postcard in the mail every month and support the organization for only $6/mo. + tax.
Live storytelling continues, this month again at Dusty’s. Check their website and Facebook for updates on next month’s location. Jackie and the team at Creative Colloquy have created such an amazing South Sound literary community which we are so fortunate to have available to us! Thank you!
Blue Cactus Press has exciting news in that they are open to submissions for a magical realist eco-fiction anthology centered on finding and examining “the sublime” and “the unknown” within our daily lives, and/or addressing the ways in which we interact with them.
Another exciting update from BCP is the Publisher Pop-Up at Alma Tacoma, on the 4th Saturday/Sunday of every month. I can’t wait to sign up for these workshops and to see the amazing work that Christina is doing!
Growing up in Arizona means August, for me, will always be the month of Monsoons. These blowing-over-trees, knocking-out-power, washing-out-roads summer storms, for all their wild beauty, form in an orderly pattern which belies their potentially destructive nature.
The mornings before a storm are warm, as is usual for the summertime, but during the monsoon season there is a heaviness in the air from the humidity left by the previous day’s rains. The morning air is also often filled with the aroma of the creosote, a normally insipid bush which releases a scent only with the renewing rains of summer; this smell always floods my memory with fond images of our little adobe home on Whispering Winds road.
The morning skies reveal cumulus clouds far off on the horizon. These distant clouds linger just beyond the mountains which ring the valley. As the day goes on they move and expand, circling and rising, finally developing into the thunderheads which pulse with a distant but growing energy.
By early afternoon the sky changes from a horizon-to-horizon expanse, like a beautiful turquoise stone, into the churning bright white & molten dark swirls that the liquid sky has become. Lightning silently punches out in bright flashes against the impending gloom. As they get nearer the clouds rise further into the sky with great leaps which can be easily discerned with a brief skyward glance.
As the storms march closer they stir up great dust storms, driven by the harsh wind pushing ahead of them. These storms bring visibility to zero and coat everything in an umber ash-like powder. My brother Dave and I, when we were eight and ten, donned army surplus goggles and walked out into one of these storms, using the fence along the driveway to keep our bearings. Even though he was directly in front of me the entire time I could barely see him as we ventured together out into the haboob.
After the swirling dust comes the rain pouring down and the cracks of thunder filling the air. The monsoon drops sheets of water on the parched desert, turning crusty dark yellow dirt into rich brown puddles in a matter of minutes. The sudden storms can cause deadly deluges to sweep down the arroyos, sometimes miles from where the rain actually fell. These flash floods are fatal to the unsuspecting interloper but to native desert life they offer a seasonal ritual of daily cleansing.
In the evening, when the rain has stopped again, the air is weighted down with the promise of renewal. The destruction caused by the storm’s power conceal the true regenerative nature of its coming. In the cycle of being, both life and death are one and the same; they are just different sides of the same truth.
My vivid memories of this weather phenomena, of these summer afternoons and their brief but spectacular natural outbursts, have made an indelible mark on me. Not only does it mark the beginning to the end of summer, but it speaks to me, the voice of nature, trying to tell us how we belong to the earth. We would do well to listen closely.