Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

Bridging the Rip

Kim called me this morning to inform me that someone had just told her the parking lot at the J was flooded. Later, on her way to work out, she checked in to report on all the people transfixed by the spectacle of the Rillito rendered violent, one which parilous recounted in a manner friendly to non-Tucsonans who wonder what the big deal is. I didn't feel like braving the AC-less confines of Old Red to drive down Oracle for a peek, but resolved that I would make the trip in New Silver once Kim and Skylar came home. By the time they were situated, though, my urge to nest was strong. Luckily, my adventurous side persevered.

After picking up various necessaries and a DVD of the Miami Vice television show with which to relive some of the happier moments of my unhappy high school years, I crossed the bridge on Stone and pulled into the Tucson Mall's lot, parking as close to the Rillito as I could. There were dozens of people doing the same thing all along the normally empty rift -- "river" comes from the Latin ripa, but shares an Indo-European root with all those "r" words describing places that water can run through -- with the same festive attention that you might see at a Fourth of July fireworks display. The sight of that much flowing water is a real treat in the desert. It transforms the landscape.

We live in an extreme climate. What is normal elsewhere can seem miraculous here, like the few raindrops that Skylar's class went outside to witness after months of unrelenting drought. And what is normal here might inspire panic in those accustomed to milder conditions. We even have a "Stupid Motorist" law to deal with those people who, when they see roaring rapids where the road used to be, plough their cars on through in the hope that they won't be swept away. It's a strange place, Tucson. But I'm glad I've had the chance to get to know it well enough that I was as excited by today's spectacle as the people standing around me. For once, I didn't feel like I was looking at them from the other side.
Tags: everyday, tucson

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