Only a few more minutes on the freeway

August 5, 2006, 7:03 pm. I am driving eastbound on I-10, which means I am really heading north toward home. ‘Entering Marana town limits’, only a few more minutes on the freeway and I will be to the Marana exit. I am leaving the hustle and bustle of midtown Tucson behind me in the blink of an eye, as I long to reach the serenity that Marana beholds. My little black Civic is almost completely dry from the monsoon that is now rolling out. Ahh, monsoons, the best part of the summer.

I cannot wait for each July to come around because that is when the monsoon season begins. Our summer monsoons are unlike anything many have seen before. In a split second, the sky becomes black and ominous with huge billowing clouds. That is when the light show begins. Amazingly beautiful yet completely frightening streaks of lightning blaze across the sky. Shortly after the lightning strikes, a colossal crack of thunder sounds. The noise is so loud it makes my very soul tremble. It creates a strange sensation, I am completely terrified that nature can create such commotion, yet exhilarated and cannot wait for the next quake. Then, the rain begins, first only a slight drizzle. Within minutes, buckets of water are pouring out of the sky in a hypnotizing pattern that I cannot help but gaze at. I take it all in and enjoy every moment; because I know in less than the time it takes to watch an episode of ‘I Love Lucy,’ the concert will be over. There is no encore today, but the aftermath of this monsoon is captivating. The streets are lined by rushing rivers and the washes are actually flowing. There is a sigh of relief heard from the desert floor because it has gotten a break from the relentless heat of the burning sun. The plants are drinking up every drop and in only a few days the whole landscape will transform from cacti and bare mesquite trees to an abundance of greenery and vibrant flowers that is very seldom seen here. Ahh….the monsoons.

As I approach the exit, the clouds begin to part and leave just as quick as they came. I am in luck, the sun sets soon and there is no sunset like an Arizona sunset. Safely off the freeway, I turn onto the frontage road. I see the skeleton of the old cotton gin to the right and it evokes visions of old farmers bringing their freshly cut crop to the gin; and it saddens me that I never was able to witness the farmers hard at work. All that is left is the eerie carcass that represents what once was the only way of life out here. I know I am close to home when the temperature drops ten degrees because of the irrigation ditches running along the frontage road. It is the perfect time to roll the window down, feel the refreshing breeze on my face, and breathe in the crisp scent of the sweet corn growing in the fields. I look up and see that remarkable sunset. As the sun ducks below the horizon, the most brilliant colors fill the sky. A hot lilac is closest to the horizon followed by a bright fuchsia, next a blood red and a deep tangerine orange tops it off. The silhouette of Picacho Peak frames the myriad of colors. Glorious! I glance back at the fields and the rows of corn zooming by become entrancing. I could watch it for hours, but the cornfield quickly turns into an open grass field where the cattle are sprinkled about. They are all feeding on the lush grass that has grown dramatically due to the wonderful monsoon season.

As I finally reach home, the sun has completely disappeared and the moon and stars begin to twinkle. Then that familiar serenade begins. The toads begin to sing a sweet melody. After the rains, I can always count on the toads to come around. Then their back-up singers chime in, the charming chirp of the crickets. The light from the stars and the moon are in full force now. There is no light pollution and every constellation is visible. I get absolutely get lost in the vastness of the universe and the mesmerizing glimmer of the stars. Sadly, it is time to turn in. Tomorrow I will be able to experience this astounding place all over again. It is important to appreciate Marana in its entire splendor because it is rapidly becoming developed and soon what once was a sleepy farming community will become a bustling suburb. So, I ask you, What isn’t there to love about Marana?