Friday, July 29, 2011


This week is our anniversary. We've lived in Tucson for 5 years.

In that time we've learned to tolerate extremes in temperatures and political opinions.  We've tasted Sonoran Hot Dogs and tepary beans.  We've gone nearly 100 days without rain and we've been unable to leave our neighborhood because the access roads are flooded.  It snowed here that first February, while I was wearing shorts on Long Island.  It's certainly a place with pointy edges.

Hardly anything that grows anywhere else I've ever lived can grow here... unless one is willing to invest constant care and attention and irrigation.  I thought I might be that person, but after killing the magnolia tree within a week of bringing it home that first August, I changed my mind.  I was in floral lust and I needed those thick green leaves and that fabulous white flower and the scent.... oh, the scent.  But I forgot that this was not Marin or Chicago or New York and I didn't realize that here in Tucson it would need to be watered thoroughly two or three times a day. One windy, hot afternoon it reproached me with its death.

That was the last time I invested in a non-native plant.  The most successful newbies are the volunteers, those dropped from coyote fur or pooped by mourning doves or ground squirrels.  I'm experimenting with rooting plants in containers set into the raised vegetable bed, taking advantage of the irrigation system already in place, but thus far my efforts have been fruitless.

Yet I persevere.

I've been asked to write a piece on why I love our town, following up on the letter I wrote on January 17th and I'm having a hard time quantifying the wonderfulness that is Tucson. Today, for example, our lunch companions asked us to differentiate it from Scottsdale.... where should we begin?

We are sophisticated but not pretentious. We are fully capable of dressing to the nines but there's never any pressure. As long as the relevant body parts are covered, Tucson Casual is whatever works for you.

We have a world class university with a world class medical facility (and I'm the one to speak to that issue, thank you very much) and the local magazine is wondering if we'll be at the top of the Pac-12in football as well as basketball. It's true that our airport allows me to fly to no where I want to go, but that's a small price to pay for swimming in March. In my backyard. With no grass to mow.

How can I stand the high temperatures, you ask? Without humidity, there's breathable air and less perspiration. I'm sure there's a scientific explanation for it, but the practical implications are that, for 12 months of the year, I can open the door and be greeted by warm air. There's never that blast of frigid-icy-slicing-through-your-pores slice of the great outdoors that makes you wonder why you are living above the 35parallel.

"It feels like a small town," she said while paying for our lunches today. "Do people still recognize you?" he asked as we were leaving the restaurant. I turned to the waitress and asked her the question and her "Of course!" came with a giant smile and a loving nod of her head.

Are we sorry we moved here? Not at all. Bullets perforate me and Tucson heals me.

There's nothing more to be said.


  1. That was really lovely. And I have a huge smile on my face. I love places that still feel like a small town with the warmth that goes with it and yet you have access to so much. That's the best of both worlds.

    I love having four seasons though. I love snow (as long as I don't have to drive in it) and fall is my favorite time of year. I love the color.

    Sounds like you are right where you belong.

    Have a good weekend.

    Megan xxx

  2. Wise to go with the native plants. I have always loved the look of a desert in bloom although I don't get to see that very often.

  3. Although I don't live in Tucson, I have had the good fortune to spend considerable periods of time there and love it also. I'm so glad Tucson is healing you.

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  5. For some reason, Blogger decided to dub me Test Blog instead of my own silly self. Let's see if we can get this right this time...

    "This was a royally well-written piece. You're in fine form today, A/B, and nobody does it better than you when you're in form. Is this what you'll send in to fulfill the request? I would.

    A magnolia? NEVER would have occurred to me, but I lack your imagination.

    Happy Tucsoniversary!"

  6. An excellent post, is what I thought.

    My lilltle neck of the woods is a place where everybody knows you and everybody knows your business. It can be a good thing, it can also be a bad thing, a very bad thing.

    My gardening problems are different to yours because the minute I go for adventurous, the damn winter frosts kill my babies. Magnolias I can grow.

    Thank you for popping in, I like your blog very much.

  7. Am longing to get back for a spell in the desert....

  8. And I will be visiting Tucson for the first time in two weeks! My DH and I will be staying at some snazzy resort (Loew's Ventana Canyon) thanks to a Groupon and we would love a few ideas of the best TUCSON-FLAVORED places for a casual but not fast food dinner! Tucsonites? Or is it TUCSONIANS? Thanks in advance! Yes, we live in Phoenix and I agree with your assessment of Snottsdale, er, SCOTTSDALE!


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