Desert Green Under Stormy Skies

Central Arizona has been blessed this winter with abundant rainfall, well above our yearly average.  Here in the Valley of the Sun, we don’t complain (well, hardly ever) when it rains, because we know that the summer heat and dryness are just around the corner.  The desert is a miraculous ecosystem.  Just the slightest bit of rain can bring the dried seeds and hidden vegetation to life, attracting the wildlife and birds at the same time.

Today was one of those rainy days when I could see the clouds hanging heavy over the McDowell Mountains from our office windows.  Most of the day it looked like a heavy Pacific coast fog, just absolutely stunning.  But just about 5:00 as I was wrapping up my workday, the clouds began to break in the west as the sun was beginning to set, and the mountains to the east just lit up like huge emerald monoliths against the backdrop of the remaining storm clouds.

When I got to my car on the top floor of the parking deck, I grabbed my camera and took a couple of shots with my normal lens, but wasn’t happy with having the rooftops of the adjoining office buildings in the shot.  By that time, the shadow of the clouds was moving further up the mountain.  So I quickly swapped lenses, mounted my old 75-300 telephoto lens, and zoomed it to the max, capturing the shot below:

I did a little adjusting and masking exercise in PaintShop Pro, but this is pretty much what it looked like.  Normally these mountains are dark brown, rocky slopes with just a smattering of brush, but you can see just how green they are right now.  Perhaps I’ll revisit this photo in August when I’ve forgotten what a little water can do to the desert.

Like the grasses showing tender faces to each other,
thus should we do,
for this was the wish of the Grandfathers of the World.

Black Elk




  1. Awesome shot! As I was leaving at 4:30 there was a cool beam of light punching through the clouds onto the runway of the Scottsdale Airport but I decided not to stop in the middle of FLW and take picture. It was a cool sight to see though.

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