As this year draws to a close, I need to remark about the weather we’ve been having lately.
Two weeks ago, I was on a Wickenburg Horsemen’s Association ride out in the desert between the rodeo grounds and Sophie’s Flat (off Blue Tank Road). The woman riding in front of me was from Colorado, a “winter visitor.” We got to talking. She asked me lots of questions about the vegetation and I found myself naming the cacti trees, and bushes for her. Then she pointed out the grass that, in some areas, was quite green and lush — at least by desert standards. “Is all this grass normal?” she asked.
It isn’t normal at all. Although we tend to get some rain in the autumn and winter months, we’ve been getting a lot of rain lately. And fortunately, that rain is falling in such a way that it has set up a healthy pattern for the desert vegetation: soaking rain, a week or two of sun, soaking rain, a week or two of sun, soaking rain, etc. You get the idea. The desert gets a good soaking over a day or two — usually just enough to get the washes and river running. Then the sun comes out and stays out for enough time for grass and other plants to sprout and get green. But before the desert really dries out again, another rain comes. The result: lots of green — including healthy grass — out in the desert.
It’s beautiful — especially in the eyes of an east coast girl like me who grew up with tall green trees and lots of green lawns. But it’s also great for the cattle and wildlife. And my horses don’t seem to mind much. Although they don’t have a pasture, there’s a piece of my property along Cemetery Wash that’s mostly in the shade and just full of foot-tall grass. Every few days, my significant other and I take the horses over to spend a 30 to 60 minutes grazing there. They love it. And I know that if they ever get loose, that’s where they’ll be.
I remember when we first moved to Wickenburg. It was about eight years ago, the year of the big El Niño rains. Our new house showed us all its leaks. That was the bad news. The good news came in the spring, when the desert burst into color with blooming flowers. There was some talk that wildflowers that hadn’t appeared in years were blooming. I could believe it. The color and variety were beyond belief. I look forward to this coming spring when, with luck, we’ll be treated to the same show.
Yesterday, Wickenburg got a good soaking. For a while, the rain poured down hard and most of the washes got working. The river flowed and there was a healthy trickle through Cemetery Wash when I got home. More rain is forecasted for early next week.
As I sit here in my office, looking out the window, I’m treated to an even more rare weather event: fog. The fog moved in this morning and has been blanketing the town for the past few hours. I know that the fog bank only goes up a hundred or so feet because I saw the top of it as it moved in. The sun, high in the sky now — it’s almost 11 AM — is working hard to burn it off. I’m sure we’ll have clear skies again by this afternoon.
Funny thing…when I lived in New Jersey, I hated the rain. But here, its a blessing and one I look forward to.