As we celebrate Summer Reading, here is an excerpt from my second memoir, Burlesque, Yoga, Sex and Love: Life Under the Albuquerque Sun. This excerpt describes the glorious monsoon season that brings most of the rain for the year:
Late summer in Albuquerque is monsoon season. The word brings to my mind palm trees bending in hurricane-force winds, sheets of rain filling roads and flooding over the curbs, storm drains choked and gurgling. But nary a palm tree is to be found in this semi-arid climate, which is populated with high-desert plants like juniper and sagebrush that thrive at the city’s mile-high altitude. The average rainfall of eight to nine inches per year happens mostly during this season, sometimes in brief torrents, lowering the temperature and providing a respite from the summer heat.
This first Wednesday morning in August begins as a typical monsoon-season day. Ben and I are sitting in the backyard, hands around warm mugs of tea and coffee. Our chairs face east, and over the tops of the mulberry trees and cottonwoods we see the day begin on the eastern horizon with a few cumulus clouds edged in vivid orange and pink over a bright blue sky. In only a few minutes, the clouds turn golden as the sun rises. One moment more and the entire sky is awash in light, white clouds against sapphire: a beautiful start to the day.
I cannot believe that it is already time to prep for fall term. At mid-morning I take a break from setting up my online classes and go outside to drag the trash can up the driveway and back to the garage. A little of the morning coolness lingers, but it is quickly being burned off by the sun, shining completely unimpeded in the cloudless sky. I squint upwards; some clouds lie on the distant eastern horizon, seemingly chased off by the blazing sun. Inside the house is warm and stuffy. I turn on the swamp cooler (the colloquial name for the “evaporative cooler,” a device that cools the air using evaporation of water) and hope the humidity outside doesn’t negate its effectiveness. It is going to be a hot day.
By noon, as I get in to drive to yoga, there is no lingering coolness. The inside of the car feels like an oven and the searing sun commands the sky. Every now and then a breeze musters enough strength to carry a bit of cool moisture, but all else retreats under the fierce midday sun.
Later in the afternoon, a few white puffy clouds appear on the horizon; by 5 o’clock, half of the sky to the east is crowded with clouds. A gray-ness grows. We have skylights throughout the house, and as the clouds cover the sun, the house dims. I turn on the light over the sink and peek out the kitchen window. The clouds darken and, as their edges merge, they deepen to gun-metal gray and lose their individual shape, banding together and covering the sky. I turn to look at the western horizon, seeing white and puffy cumulus clouds form, belatedly mirroring the earlier pattern in the east. I’m loading the dishwasher, wiping down the counter, surveying the contents of the refrigerator for dinner, when suddenly the smell of rain floods my nostrils.
Rain in the desert smells of dust and longing, heat and relief, and the security of knowing life will continue. I swear I can feel a part of my brain being triggered at the smell of rain. I am awash in a sense of well-being. Does this activate my endorphins somehow? Fixing dinner and cleaning the counter are completely forgotten as I am drawn outside. More than drawn—I cannot help but be outside to witness the coming storm. A fresh cup of jasmine tea in hand, steam wafting the delicate scent toward my nose, I get comfortable on the front porch, ready to watch the show.
In Burlesque, Yoga, Sex and Love, author Anne Key invites us to walk along the glittery rhinestone encrusted path of self-discovery as she confronts, and transcends, the established norms for middle-aged women. Set in picturesque Albuquerque, this memoir explores what it means to connect the body, mind, and spirit through yoga and burlesque. By the end of the book, you will find yourself traveling outside of the shadowy corners of fear toward a brighter light where there is freedom to be found in accepting yourself and learning to love what you find. Find it at our store and on Amazon.
Anne’s first memoir Desert Priestess recounts her time as the Priestess of the Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet in Nevada. She co-edited Stepping Into Ourselves: An Anthology of Writings on Priestesses and Heart of the Sun: An Anthology in Exaltation of Sekhmet. She performs with Unicorn Productions in Albuquerque, New Mexico under the stage name Annie O’Roar. She teaches under the name Dr. Key as an adjunct faculty offering courses in women’s studies, religious studies, and English. As well as writing, she is also the co-founder of the independent press Goddess Ink.
Anne blissfully resides in Albuquerque with her husband, his two cats and her snake. When she’s not writing or grading papers, you can find her pushing taffeta through a sewing machine or strapping on her heels for rehearsal.
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