August 2, 2018
Straight out of the camera…no artificial color added….
Heading home and slow-going with the west-bound traffic at exactly 6:30 pm yesterday…with a good view of the approaching storm.
Eleven minutes later in the below photograph…wasn’t difficult driving, but it was hard to make quality one-handed photographs with the truck blowing side to side….
Very often we see these desert wind storms, dust storms, or haboobs making a lot of noise and throwing a bunch of crap in the air with not much else happening…
…or not happening in our particular part of town, anyway. It’s often that one side of town gets the dust and another side gets the rain….
So it was nice to finally see some rain drops populate the windscreen on the truck…heading north on the 303 now from the I-10…at 6:55 pm in the below photo.
Wipers are coming on soon….
Looking west toward the White Tank Mountains in the below photo…huge dumping of rain….
The above photo (kind of sucks) is nowhere near as dramatic as this image from the Washington Post in July of 2016, but it’s still pretty cool…rain bomb…micro-burst….
Broken trees blowing onto the freeway off ramp…getting close to home….
It’s 7:06 pm in the above photo…36 minutes since the first photo above….
A welcome river of rain washing down our neighborhood street above….
And this is the morning after…two broken tree tops…which is very minimal compared to what I found in other places in the neighborhood…huge trees that must have stood for close to 20 years blown over and crashed through walls and into houses…other big ones uprooted and laying into the street…beautiful mesquite trees in the park toppled over….
Wonderful summer rains in the desert….
I was heading west on County Highway 85 (MC85 for any locals reading along), also named “Buckeye Road” in its eastern environs, going toward the town of Buckeye, where I hoped to find someone who had some positive test results and was in need of medication.
My work with the health department takes me to various corners of the county…all of them over time…so I get to go places and see things that a “normal” office job likely wouldn’t provide. Sometimes I go to jails, city parks, transient camps, doctors’ offices, hospital emergency rooms, or psych wards…and other times I’m actually out “in the field.”
The US Department of Agriculture’s “2012 Census of Agriculture” (the most current one I could find) for Maricopa County, Arizona, provides that there were 2,579 farms consisting of 475,898 acres of land at that time. Those numbers reflected a 38% increase in the number of farms and a 2% decrease in acres of land since the previous census, dated 2007. I provide all of that to simply state that there remains quite a bit of agricultural land in the County, with most of it being situated on the outskirts of the more densely populated areas.
For those interested, this Wikipedia article provides that Maricopa County has a total area of 9, 224 square miles, is 132 miles wide from east to west, and measures 103 miles from north to south…it has a greater land mass than seven states, is the fourth most populous county in the USA, and has a population of 4,307,033 (2017), which is greater than that of 23 states.
I took my camera to work with me on this particular day because I was hoping to make some photos of the melon and corn fields that are near my home, on my way home from work…when the light would be softer with the setting sun, etc…so I had it with me when I was in the field driving hither and yon…passing field upon field of corn, cotton, hay, onions, and alfalfa.
A five minute stop on the way to Buckeye allowed me to get down and personal with a surprisingly fragrant field of alfalfa at about 10:30 am on a day that was supposed to get up near 115 degrees.
I found the address, but not the person I was looking for when I made it to Buckeye…
…but I did bring back some unplanned bounty in the way of a few photographs…and testimony to the fact that Arizona farming can yield beautiful results!
There are marquis-type signs over the freeways in the city that tell drivers that it is going to be a “high pollution day” tomorrow and suggest that they use alternative means of transportation…bike, bus, carpool, etc….
…but there are no signs out in the agricultural areas telling drivers to keep their vehicles’ windows closed or to wear respirators so they don’t breathe-in the ever rising dust that comes from the tractors and machines turning the desert fields….
Panning east to west and proceeding minute by minute, this was the view from the side of a road less than one mile from my house last evening.
I’ve mentioned before that I live in the far northwest corner of the “Valley of the Sun” that is Metropolitan Phoenix…the pan of desert that through the miracles and science of hydrology and irrigation, comes alive with great expanses of nearly unnatural hues of green that we don’t expect to find in places such as this.
The foreground is dominated by watermelon fields, the dark line with the golden cap beyond the field is ripening corn, and then you see the edge of a neighborhood to the left (east), and then the Estrella Mountains in the distance. There are hiking trails on the right (west) end that are similar to the ones found in the White Tank Mountains that you can see in the last photograph below.
The trails are part of the offerings in the Estrella Mountain and White Tank Mountain Regional Parks, which were created and are maintained by the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department.
Making photos of this area has been on the agenda for the last couple of weeks…as the softer light of the setting sun make for more appealing images. The clouds were not expected, but greatly appreciated. They are an early indication of the approaching monsoon season, but have yet to do anything more serious than add to the humidity and cause desert hearts to long for rain.
Not like in the war for heroic deeds performed on the battlefield when risking one’s own life to save others’, but as in making something that could be considered plain or even unattractive, pretty, glittery, sparkly, refreshing to look at, and many other etceteras and etceteras….
I found myself downtown with over three hours of free and available time, yesterday morning, before having to report to work for a particular outreach event, so I intentionally brought my camera with me and visited what has been christened the “Grand Avenue Arts District” and found more than a couple of things to photograph.
In addition to the dozens of photos I snapped of local street art and murals, I found this row of decorated Aloe Vera and could not resist spending a few minutes’ time making a handful of images.
The morning’s sun was still gentle at 7:45, but the day had already started to heat up and another scorcher was underway.
She was a “rescue cat”‘ when we got her from a shelter a few years ago…tiny as could be, and she has remained so…has remained a rescue cat and has remained tiny. I wasn’t at the shelter with my wife and son to adopt her, but I’m told that she climbed up into my son’s lap and would then have nothing to do with anybody else…and that is a condition that has remained, as well. Unless I’m doing something in the kitchen with turkey or ham, she won’t have a thing to do with me…I’m lucky if she lets me touch her with a finger tip. Whenever family members come over to the house, the cat is gone and hiding under a bed or in a closet somewhere.
This image was made from nearly 20 feet away with a little bit of zoom action….
My son originally named her something like “Gray Stripe,” or “Bat Cat,” or some other such thing, but the name was changed to “Puff” after a few days. The cat hid under the bed anytime my wife or I entered my son’s room and would not come out for any kind of coaxing, gentle talking, or offering of treats, etc. The only thing that brought her out was when my wife started singing “Puff the Magic Dragon.” Whether it was a familiar tune or simply my wife’s melodic voice, the little feline slowly walked out from under the bed and hopped up on top of it and approached my wife. When she stopped singing, the cat disappeared under the bed again…when she started singing, out came the cat again…stopped singing, there she went again.