PHOENIX, Arizona--In the desert, packing up a house. Something almost biblical about the task, folding the tents and so on. We stay cool inside the house (thank you, Carrier! Thank you, Lennox!), but when we emerge as the sun begins to set, the skies are dark and menacing. Not a rainstorm but dust. A haboob.
Talk about language confusion. The haboob is a dust storm, typically in a dry desert. (The so-called Okie Dust Bowl of the 1930s: a freak succession of haboobs.) Not considered politically correct terminology in this ultra-conservative, anti-immigration border state, haboob being an African word, after all. But a haboob alert it was, this afternoon, from 4 to about 7. Outside temp a stifling 116 degrees, no rain for weeks.
And then, after a couple of hours, it was over. By then the sun had set, you could see clouds again, and the black outlines of the desert's mountains.
In the old town of Arcadia, on the fringe of Phoenix, a lively wine bar called Postino. Wine and bruschetta. (Sure, some people call it broo-shetta, others follow Italian tradition and say bruce-ketta, it's all good.) Short wine list (3 sparklers, a dozen whites, a dozen reds, all by the glass. California wines cost the most, $12; Spanish the least, $8. Beers, too: two taps, six cans, a dozen bottles. If you come before 5 PM, everything's $5.
The bruschetta come four at a time, $13.50 per board. Mozzarella, tomato & basil; tomato jam with sheep's cheese; roasted peppers with goat cheese; white bean.
More than a few folks here want the police to demand that brown-skinned people show ID to prove they're not illegal immigrants from Mexico. they also feel uncomfortable calling a good ol' Merkin dust story a "haboob." Fox News knows this. But I half expected Mel Gibson to emerge out of the beige, post-apocalyptic fog, goggles askew and arms akimbo, surveying the scene and asking if there might, by any chance, be any Prosecco left. Little did he know we were all outside, trying to find the Perseid meteor shower.
Location:PhoenixHaboob image courtesy Flickr.