Oh, how I wish it would rain!

This morning, around seven o’clock, I drove to town and noticed heavy, slow-moving masses of dark clouds tightly hugging the tops of the mountains on the horizon. In other locations or under different circumstances, the sight may have been considered an ominous sign of imminent thunderstorms or other inclement weather. 

My first reaction, though, was one of gleeful expectation: Finally, we’re going to get some rain! But by the time I got home two hours later, the promising cloud cover had dissipated, leaving behind another sunny, dry, windy day, with a temperature of 72 degrees. 

That sounds ideal weather conditions except we haven’t had any rain for at least six months. Not a drop, zip, nada, except for a ridiculous spritz one day in November. 

Stew bought a weather station back in October, and it has been spinning merrily on the roof since, sending a myriad bits of information to a small gizmo in the living room, some of which I record in a notebook every night. 

Until a month ago, high and low temperatures here were enviably mellow to folks in most of the U.S.: Sunny and somewhere between the 70s during the day, and 40s to 50s at night. Temperatures at the ranch are about five to eight degrees cooler than in the San Miguel’s center, located in a lower spot surrounded by hills. 

Three weeks ago we entered our hot weather season, with temperatures some days up in the low- to mid-nineties. But right now the weather at the ranch is a very pleasant 72 degrees, with 33 percent humidity and winds 11 mph. 

The dry creek near our ranch, several years ago: When it finally rains, it pours. 

(For a detailed, year-round profile of San Miguel weather, check the Weather Spark website.) 

But the one constant for six months has been lack of rain, sometimes pushing relative humidity down to 10 to 15 percent—and into Oil of Olay territory—when expat baldies also are advised to keep a hat or baseball cap on whenever outside. An additional desiccant is an almost constant wind, batting all vegetation mercilessly and stirring up dust devils. Though it’s hardly mentioned, ultra-violet levels in San Miguel are often in the “high” to “dangerous” levels. 

Our dry season this year has been aggravated by an unusually brief and meager rainy season last year. Normally we can expect as much a 25 inches if rain, delivered in overnight downpours beginning in July but last year we didn’t get even half as much. 

The Arizona and Nevada tourism boards will keep hoo-hahing that “it’s not the heat that’s bothersome but the humidity” to reassure natives and visitors alike that desert conditions, with 100+ degrees temperatures and where a half-dead saguaro cactus is considered vegetation, are pleasant and salubrious. 

Baloney: Dried up, desert-brown landscapes and rocks laid bare by constant wind, like we have at the ranch right now, may look quaint in postcards or to visitors here for only a week or two, but not to the locals.  

To living things here, particularly bony cows and sheep desperately scrounging for the last shreds of greenery, and humans like Felix and I trying to plant a garden, conditions right now are rather dismal. 

Right after lunch I went on the back terrace, and indignantly shook my fist at the sky to  demand rain, even if we’re most unlikely to get any for another two months. Can’t hurt to try, I figured, and actually, those fluffy gray clouds I saw this morning seem to have returned. 

Could it be?

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