El Niño: The long rains

Whenever the surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean shift in just the right way, we get an El Niño event, a periodic rainy season that goes on and on and on. All winter long, we’ve had rain at least once a week.

Blue Dick

It’s raining again this morning. Poured half the night. The desert is greening up, and soon the hills and valleys will be awash in wildflowers. And, consequently, our noses awash in pollen. Arizona is the place to come when you want to find out what you’re allergic to!

Our xeric landscaping also bursts out in wildflowers, more familiarly known as weeds. Right now my front yard is filling up with milkweed and ragweed, filaree and dandelions, many of them noxious imports from other parts of the country and the world.

Arizona lupine

Some are very pretty. A variety of lupine, for example, will sprout in the alleys and occasionally in the lawn. By and large the ones that grow in the city, though, are plug-ugly, invasive, and turn your yard into a jungle of fanny-high brush that, as soon as the heat comes up, dries out and turns to tinder.

Most of the really pretty plants won’t grow in the city, though. You have to get out on the desert and climb a slope to see the carpets of Arizona poppies during the brief few days they bloom. I’ve rarely seen one volunteer in my yard—maybe once or twice, but they’re not happy and they don’t last long.

Arizona poppy

What with all this water falling out of the sky, the yard crop is fierce, noxious, thick, and so robust that it regards Round-up as a minor nuisance. I’ve dribbled the stuff on the front yard weeds twice, to exactly zero effect. And yes, I know… but let qui mal y pense come over here and spend a few days on hands and knees digging thorny plants that exude rash-inducing sap out of a quarter-acre of gravel.

London rocket

The house plants are happy, though. There’s  no question that plants can tell the difference between rain and tap water. As the roses are vibrating with joy, so the indoor plants radiate vegetable contentment when they’re allowed to sit below the eaves and bathe in falling rain.

Plants singin' in the rain

Problem is, of course, you have to yank them indoors at the first sign of hail, of which we have a-plenty. That Christmas cactus out there ran amok the first time it was put out in the rain this winter:

Christmas Cactus

Cassie the Corgi, not being a plant, hates loathes and despises water when it’s not in a dish. Water falling out of the sky is particularly abhorrent. This morning she ran out into the wet dark, pivoted on a dime, streaked back into the house, and deposited a lovely steaming pile in the family room for me to clean up. {sigh}

Well, whenever I get back from ululating down at the cult headquarters, I guess I’ll have to set another fire in the fireplace, the better to keep the Cassowary warm and dry, and spend the afternoon in front of it grading student papers.

Ball likes to be warm, too...

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frugalscholar February 28, 2010 at 12:00 pm

The flowers look so pretty.
What a big baby Cassie is!

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