“So, How’s Your Weather?,” column for Tues., April 21, 2015

On a clear day, from where I sit, you can see forever.
Well, more or less.

My desk is wedged into a bay window of our home on a hill just outside Las Vegas. Facing west, it looks out across the desert and a patchwork quilt of subdivisions to a point at which civilization ends and the Spring Mountains rise up, rugged and majestic, reaching up to heaven.

I never get tired of this view. It changes throughout the day. As the sun makes its way across the sky, the hills and valleys and ridges in the mountains take turns lighting up and going dark, like actors on a stage sharing the spotlight.

If we’re lucky to get clouds, their shadows make it all even more interesting to watch. I say “lucky” because, in the desert, we don’t get a lot of clouds. Some, yes, even a few thunderstorms. But not like in the Carolinas, where I grew up.

The typical forecast for Vegas never fails to make me smile: “Abundant sunshine.”

If it were any more abundant, we’d burst into flame. But it’s nice waking up most every morning to blue skies and sunshine and a backyard full of birds bellying up to the feeder.

I wish you could see it.

It’s a great view. Until we get a dust storm. And then, I swear, you can’t see the nose on your face in a magnifying mirror.

If you’ve never experienced a dust storm, allow me to explain. Occasionally, just to make life interesting, the wind likes to pick up to, say, 50 mph and come roaring across the desert like a derailed freight train. And that train is loaded with enough dust and debris to plaster everything in its path, including me and my hair and the windows I just washed.

That’s exactly what happened recently. Not just once, but on several memorable occasions.

My sister in South Carolina follows my weather on the news. When I lived in California, she used to call me all worried about CNN reports of earthquakes that somehow I never even felt.

These days, we talk mostly about her weather (tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, torrential rains, suffocating humidity and such.) So when the dust storms made the news, she couldn’t wait to call and commiserate.

“I heard y’all are having those awful dust storms again.”

“Yes,” I said, picking the grit out of my teeth. “Our swimming pool looks like a swamp.”

“Oh,” she said, “that’s bad.”

“Yes,” I said, “it is.”

I did not say, “But I’ll gladly take our dust storms over your tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, torrential rains, suffocating humidity and such.”

I almost said that, but didn’t, even though it’s true. I mean, what would be the point? The one comfort we take in our misery is to think at least it’s not as bad as somebody else’s.

The worst dust storm of my life occurred a long time ago on a camping trip to Death Valley. I sat up all night in a tent, yes, brushing dust off the face of my 2-year-old. And I vowed to myself that if, by some miracle, we survived that night, I would never go back to the desert.

Here’s a little tip: Never say never. Some vows are meant to be broken. When my husband changed jobs nine years ago, I not only agreed to move to the desert. I learned to love it.

Life is a lot like the weather. Everybody gets a bad spell of it sometimes. The winds of change keep blowing. The storms of life keep raging. Sooner or later, in every life, a little rain must fall.

We take what we get because it comes with the territory, with the place that we call home.

There’s not much we can do about it, really, except try to be prepared as best we can, hunker down, wait it out, then go out and clean up the mess.

But I wish you could see my pool.


  1. Funny, in Pittsburgh, our one weatherman’s commercial contains the statement,” In Pittsburgh you can experience all 4 seasons in one day.” And, it’s true. But, I love where I live although I yearn for those sunny hot beaches of SC or Aruba! Right now, the weather that’s tormenting us has more to do with life than climate. And, we are hoping for a change soon.

  2. jesse sowns says

    Your column on dust storms sent my memory back on a trip to south eastern colorado when I was a small boy . We moved out west in 1936 when I was eight years old but can still remember hanging wet sheets over the windows to try to keep some of the dust out and burning the lamps all day so we could see. Jesse.

  3. I was almost ready to say that I’d gladly take your dust storms over the non-stop snowstorms we got in Massachusetts this winter, but… we must be careful of what we wish for, and New England does have its plus side somewhere and pretty soon I will remember what it is… and I wish YOU could see it!!!

  4. I’m sure your desert views are gorgeous! Your winds must have kept howling across the country because we had 40 to 50 mile an hour winds here in Hoosier Land earlier in the week! And yesterday afternoon I got to play pick up sticks before hubby could mow. My view is blocked by our tall groves of trees that grow in this area and I miss a lot of sunsets. It’s amazing how we all love our own surroundings. 🙂

  5. Kate Sciacca says

    Yuck. We get a few dust storms here in the north state…. But not as bad as you get in Vegas :-). Today was great…. PM Thunderstorms…. Love those. 🙂

  6. We always wait for nice weather but bad weather and dust storms were very common in India like here in US . There is always rain after that storm and it gives relief after heat reaches up to 120 degree F . Reminded me of that weather with which we lived 43 years and survived . Now we live in US where winter weather does not go away at least 9 months and we keep handy winter clothes all days during those nine months . Liked the new column like new weather which is around the corner in few days that is spring . Thanks for reminding that all weathers are good till we survive and all goes well .

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