Dragon’s breath

Today, the sky is a hot blue, and the air has that dry, baked smell that tells you, before you even feel the air on your skin, that it’s just about summer.

Tucsonans will tell you that the ice doesn’t break on the Santa Cruz River (never mind that there’s no water there most of the time these days) until we reach 100 degrees. Don’t think we’re quite going to get there today. With temperatures still in the mid-90s, and humidity still in the single digits, the temperature here is merely warm, not hot.

But the air has a particular summer desert quality to it today anyway.

There’s something compelling about these first warm, baked almost-summer days, something different from the almost-as-warm days of spring. The Sonoran dragon has yet to blow its scouring breath across the city, but you can almost hear it drawing up a good chestful of air, getting ready.

Some Tucsonans will also tell you–even weird Tucsonans like me, who like snow and don’t really mind being cold–that there’s something that feels good about that scouring, drying, cleansing dragon’s breath.

I’m not convinced you can really understand the Sonoran desert until you’ve experienced it. Those who come in November and leave in April … I’m sure they have a pleasant time. But until you’ve been through dragon time and monsoon time, I don’t think you know the desert. I don’t think it belongs to you yet, or that you belong to it.

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