From time to time I get asked about the prettiest places where I have lived. I am lucky that way because I have lived–not just visited or passed through–some pretty interesting places, including Rio de Janeiro, Southern Arizona, South and West Florida, Monterey, California, Washington DC, Chicago, Boston, San Diego, Lisbon, Athens, Singapore, Buenos Aires and the indomitable Auckland West Coast. I have been lucky to travel and visit many other beautiful places as well. Among the conversations about pretty places I get asked about which have the best skies, both for sunrises and sunsets as well as for stargazing. My answer is always the same. As much as the skies over the Waitakere Ranges and Tasman Sea are a great place to watch sunrises, sunsets and the trajectory of the stars, the single place where my eyes have been “filled” the most is the Sonoran Desert. It is particularly spectacular during the summer monsoon season, currently taking place. This is one reason why:
Stunning! And quite likely scary at the same time.
As we used to say back in the day, “time to get off the golf course or at least put the clubs away” (not that I play golf). The lightening shows are incredible and apparently this year has been historic in terms of rainfall and lightening. Nothing better than to sit on a safe porch and watch the clouds and then storm roll in, feel and hear the thunder and rain as it buckets down, watch and often sense the lightening in the atmosphere, and then once it all subsides, smell the creosote wafting in the cooler air. One of life’s true pleasures.
I hear you, Pablo! I love that smell of rain on concrete. I learned there is even a word for it – petrichor (but you probably knew that anyway).
I hear what you are saying and when I first got to Tucson that is what I thought was happening. But it turns out creosote is a desert bush, also known as greasewood or gobernadora in Spanish, that traps water and releases an oily fragrant film as part of its monsoon replenishing. It is distinct from petrichor, which also happens in Tucson but as it turns out is more common than creosote fragrance because it takes a fair bit of water to get the creosote bushes to open up their water-gathering pores. I always associated the smell with lightening, but it is in fact a product of exposure to large amounts of water. Also interesting is the fact that the petrichor also has a distinctive smell because most of the upper Sonoran basin is grounded in caliche clay, which is very hard, quite red, and prone to surface trapping rather than subterranean filtering water. Check this out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larrea_tridentata
Well! There is something new to be learned every day – thanks for that Pablo. You are right – they are two quite distinct and separate things.