Monsoon Morning

Waking up after the storm

A torrential monsoon swept through Santa Fe last night. I’ve lived in northern New Mexico for over eight years and this was hands down the heaviest rainfall I’ve seen to date. The whole cast of storm characters showed up–thunder, lightning, high winds, overflowing acequias, flash floods, and dime-sized hail.


After months of severe drought, it felt like a three-hour long miracle. So much of a miracle, in fact, that I reenacted the Shawshank Redemption scene, spinning around in the front yard with my head thrown back, laughing with the wind.

To put my giddiness in perspective, the last big rainfall we had was way back in October. From what I heard, the locals, who have become accustomed to the bone-dry bed of the Santa Fe River, flocked to its banks just to finally see some water tumbling through it. Oh. My. God. The river became a river! 

I fell asleep with the rain dancing on the adobe rooftop thinking about the long distance from October to July and how even weeds become shy when the desert turns so parched and hostile.

I’m not sure what I was dreaming, but when I awoke with a start at 4:30 am my first thought was to go straight outside. I felt a bit like Alice stepping into an alien world when I opened the front door. Under a new blanket of moisture, the city was so cool and oddly hushed. The hummingbirds must be sleeping in after all the excitement, I thought – and just like that, a hummingbird zipped by and perched herself somewhere amidst slick apricot leaves draping over my soggy garden.

It was a bit too chilly to be tiptoeing around barefoot in the dark in my skivvies, so I just stood on the tiny portal and breathed in the silence. Aside from my hummingbird companion, I felt like I was the only person for miles in an altered landscape.

I have no idea why, but the scent of the high desert after a deep, soaking rain can only be described as sweet. Perhaps it’s only when the desert is washed clean and every speck of dust has been captured into mud that its true aroma can be experienced. Even now, hours later on a bright, sunny day, the aroma still hangs in the gentle breeze, but I know it will soon be leaving.

What is it about a new day after a violent storm? We try so hard to avoid the messes of life, the long barren patches, and the untimely upheavals, but the quality of sweetness of being stripped clean and emerging into a safe clearing is, so often, so well worth it.

I gave a temporary farewell to the hummingbird, assuring her I’d return after my morning meditation to top off the feeder with a fresh brew of syrup. My promise was kept, just in time to take this picture as the sun revealed a canopy of clouds over the St. Anne neighborhood.

The time I’ve spent living in this desert has been undeniably difficult at times. But in this new season filled with hope, accomplishment, and unexpected opportunities I can’t fathom who I could have been compared with the woman who is emerging.

This is courageous beauty.

Photo Credits:  Monsoon Morning, by Susan J. Preston, Santa Fe, NM © 2018, all rights reserved
Technical: Olympus TG-5 | (25-100mm) | 1/1600 sec at f3.2| ISO 250