Monsoon Rivers

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Finding healing and joy in temporary desert waters

Audio essay by Kimi Eisele

When the rains come to southern Arizona, the dry arroyos turn into streams and swimming holes. To visit this water—for bathing, playing, cleansing—is to participate in one of the oldest rituals on the planet. Across the globe, cultures from the ancient Romans and pagan Europeans to Christians, Jews, and Muslims to both Indigenous and newcomers to the Americas have used water for ceremony, healing, joy, and spiritual revival. In the Sonoran Desert, temporary and swift summer floodwaters call for respect and reverence, as Tohono O’odham cultural worker Bernard Siquieros remembers from his childhood. In this audio essay, Kimi Eisele contemplates this seasonal ritual, its cultural history, and her own monsoon river outings.

A river winding through the desert with a tall mountain and saguaros in the background.
Sabino Canyon, August 2022. Photo by Kimi Eisele
People enjoying a pond in the desert during dusk.
Sabino Canyon, August 2022. Photo by Kimi Eisele
A smiling woman in the water with rocks surrounding her.
Kimi in the water at Tanque Verde Falls, August 2022. Photo by Bree Wilke

Production support: Alex Pere
Sound effects:
BBC Sound Effects
Free Music Archive: Ludwigs Steirische Gaudi, Village Dogs Delay (ID 15)
Freesound: Reinsamba, Cuban Santeria Drumming, Berlin Carnival of Cultures, Bluecherpltaz, 2011; Music Beds 1, Morenita, TexasMusicForge, July 13, 2005; Oneirophile, Ambience of a Public Swimming Pool, Summer 2012.
Pixabay: BluBonRelaXon, Om Namah Shivaya Mantra Chants 432 Hz

1 thought on “Monsoon Rivers”

  1. A great story Kimi (as all of yours always are). I felt this inside of me, loving and missing the water. I am still quite proud of you and do hope our paths will cross one day

    Reply

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