There was some more rain last night here in the desert. It always smells so wonderful while its coming down and afterwards. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t rain like you might get in … Ohio or Washington or someplace where mothers don’t grab their young children and rush them outside to witness the miracle. “See? Water comes from the sky! Just like Grandma says happens at her house.” The reaction to rain here in Las Vegas is much like the reaction to snow in the midwest. At first people are thrilled “Rain! Look outside, it’s RAINING!”. But its just the idea of rain. They get in their SUVs and cars and completely forget that the laws of Physics (pavement + rain = slick) still apply. The rain loses most of its mystique after about the first half hour and people start to complain as though anything but smog-drenched ‘climate’ is a personal inconvience. The weather-droids on local TV are of no help either, announcing the likliehood of rain as though it certainly will contain toxic waste. Whatever is happening is not what you want. Shouldn’t you be in a casino gambling, or at the very least buying something? So I go outside to be with my friend who just got into town, Mr. (Ms? I never thought about it) Rain.
Rain in the desert is wonderful. The smell of wet desert – the mix of wet rock, cresote, and soil is exhilarating. You can almost feel the cells in your nasal passages swell and give a little “pop” as they get to draw moisture from the air for once. Then as everything dries, you can see the colors of the rocks and mountains in the distance. They’ve been newly washed and replenished. On a perfect day the last of the Sun breaks through the purple and black clouds to spotlight Red Rock Canyon. From my point of view (unlearned in the ways of photography) it looks like something Galen Rowell would take a picture of. Then in an instant, the Sun goes behind the coulds again and the overwhelming beauty winks out. Wow, thanks for that!
I’ve noticed that once you’ve been in the desert long enough, rain becomes an event to celebrate, like the farmers dancing in the drought-breaking torrent in The Rainmaker. Life is good.
slashdot is featuring a review of Full Moon from Knopf. The book is actually a collection of 129 of the best photographs taken of the Moon out of the 32,000+ taken over the several decades and 11 manned lunar landings. There is also an original essay from Andrew Chaikin. I’ve spent a lot of time in my brick and mortar bookstore of choice, looking at this wonderful, wonderful book, though I haven’t bought it yet.
Speaking of space travel, STS-99 has been given the go ahead to do even more mapping. NASA, CNN, Reuters, and the latest images from the mission. They’re mapping the planet in Alaska-sized chunks. This is great!
Another bit seen at slashdot: David Brin (scientist and bestselling novelist) has a piece on Giordano Bruno, one of the greatest geniuses of the later Renaissance and a spectacularly interesting fellow. Bruno has been the subject of the last couple of days worth of Earth & Sky programs on the local NPR affilliate. In the slashdot dixcussion was this link to another Bruno essay.