Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Arizona in Spring


We lived in Arizona for twenty-five years, then my wife and I moved to Nebraska to be close to our grandkids. Our life is busy, so I rarely thought about my previous home state. Last week, we visited friends in Arizona and I felt a sudden nostalgia for my old stomping grounds.

Every morning before breakfast, my friend and I walked the desert hills of his neighborhood. The weather was perfect and spring wildflowers bloomed everywhere. There is a stillness to the Arizona atmosphere that I have seldom encountered elsewhere. I used to say that there were two places in the world where you could deplane and immediately know your location by the feel of the air. One was Hawaii and the other Arizona. Different feel for each, but each unique. I also miss the desert landscape. Nebraska is flat, but in every direction, the Arizona skyline is serrated with craggy hills and mountains.

If it doesn't bite, and it's not poisonous, then it's not native.

Since I winter in San Diego, I can get good Mexican food anytime I want, but I forgot that Arizona Mexican food is spicier and the variety greater. Not as many taco shops, but more high end restaurants, some serving Mexico City cuisine that's outstanding.

The homes have a style unlike any other region of the country. Land is cheap, the temperature hot, and slab foundations means that even the largest homes are single-story with windows deeply recessed into the walls to ward off the sun. The architecture gives neighborhoods a spread out, open feel that's close to the ground. The big sky and vibrant colors invite you to enjoy the outdoors.

I encountered something I didn't like. With boom-town growth, traffic has become increasingly clogged, especially during work traffic hours. It's not as bad as Los Angeles, but frustrating just the same. When we moved to Phoenix in 1991, it took me thirty minutes to drive to work in off hours and thirty-five minutes in work traffic. A five minute penalty. That's all. That was nearly thirty years ago and the city's breathless growth has never paused. Now it's congestion galore.

Phoenix is called the Valley of the Sun. It's a fitting description because the sun dictates so much of life, architecture, and clothing styles. The sun isn't just a hot ball in the sky. Arizona has some of the best sunrises and sunsets in the world. And great nights. There is nothing like a cocktail and swim after supper in the warmth of a summer evening.

Damn. If my grandchildren were't so cute, I'd move back in a heartbeat.

Pine, Arizona. Where we had a summer cabin.