Saturday, June 25, 2016

El día de San Juan

Yesterday, June 24th, was the Day of Saint John the Baptist, traditionally regarded as the first day of summer (and the first day on which one can expect rain) among the native and Hispanic peoples of the Southwest (see my post, Waiting).

During the afternoon and evening of the 23rd, we had a flow of moist air move up from the Sierra Madre into Arizona. Though no rain was produced over the deserts, one could see promising clouds to the north and east over Arizona's central and eastern highlands.

No rain yet in Phoenix, but distant
thunderheads signal a change.

And on the afternoon of the 24th, as if on cue, I heard my first Apache cicada of the season, a male singing in my neighbor's ash tree. Again clouds could be seen far away to the north and east.

Rain may be imminent; rain may wait several more weeks. But change is in the air. The cicadas seem to sense it, the slight increase in moist air perhaps their signal that it is time to emerge from their three-year-long sojourn underground.

I couldn't sleep well the night of the 23rd/24th and at 2 am I stepped outside. Down the street a male mockingbird was singing, his relentless nighttime serenade another sign of southern Arizona summer.

I went back to bed, but he probably kept it up until almost dawn, as his kind do, for they are trying to demonstrate their fitness as potential mates by stalwart singing. And, yes, they do earn their name by mimicking sounds from their environment, and not just the songs of other birds. My male down the street was doing car alarms.

The evening of the 23rd also brought a visit from a new Gambel Quail family -- mom, dad, and four chicks. Our regularly visiting family with 15 (!) chicks did not put in an appearance, though we see them once or twice a week.

We were above 110 degrees for our afternoon high temperature all week long.  But the promise of distant clouds and the song of the cicada -- the signatures of life in Sonoran Desert summer -- tell me my wait this year is over.

No comments:

Post a Comment