When dirt turns into a dust devil
But where does dirt cross the line from an inconveniently happy part of childhood to something that tortures you on a daily basis?
I estimate that that happens at about 10 mph. Around Fort Irwin the wind's usually reached that speed by shortly after lunchtime, except for a couple of days each week when it's "hold onto your hat" time from daylight to dark. Oh, then there are the gusts nearing 60 mph. Where I come from, that's not a gust. That's almost a hurricane.
You think "whistling wind" is a cliche? Not in the Mojave. It's loud enough to freak out Big Guy, and nothing scares him. "Mommy! I hear something outside our house. Is it a monster?"
All of which leads to layers and layers of dirt that refuses to stay where it's supposed to. It pokes you in the eyes and sends shards into your cheeks. It clings to white baseball pants and turns black cleats tan in a matter of hours. It sneaks into equipment bags, sending a trail of sand down the hall and causing me to abandon the "bring your gear in and put it away when you're finished" rule.
It climbs into camera bags, blowing out in a big brown poof when I set them down at home. I've never cleaned a camera before in my life - I'm a slacker like that. Now I'm OCD about it.
It mysteriously adheres to 4-year-olds who like to amuse themselves by covering their bodies in sand during their brothers' baseball games.
Once in a while, it bonks you in the head hard enough that you see stars. That happened to my neighbor recently. Her car door blew back on her as she was trying to get out.
A friend, whose toddler has lived at Fort Irwin since he was a few months old, is getting ready to move to New Jersey. She's betting he's going to be confused at the sight of all that green stuff on the ground and wonder what happened to his giant sand box.
I'm not going to complain - at least not much - because I'll take dust over a blizzard any day. And at least I don't have to worry about mowing the grass.
Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.