Monday, October 24, 2011

Ahhhhh Arizona!

Ahhhhh Arizona!
“Is the ‘Arizona Envy’ Justifiable?”

                                                                                                          B. Marie Jarreau
October 16, 2011
I really have been hesitant to do too much bragging about my move to the warmth that is Arizona for fear of 'spoiling the magic' - but YES the Arizona Envy is INDEED JUSTIFIABLE!!!

My friend Laurie posed this very question to me in an e-mail the other day. In crafting an answer I found it difficult to not sound too enthusiastic but I am soooooo in 'hog-heaven' just being here! My list of reasons for loving life in the 'lowland' seems to grow with each magnificently vibrant sunrise and sunset.
Since arriving in Northern Arizona June 3rd of this year, my senses have consistently been on the verge of overloading!

Sunset Over Jerome
- The sights and colors of life in Arizona are so intense I believe I’m using parts of my optic system that have been relatively dormant (billowing and linear cloud shapes, flower species, sunset/sunrises and ‘sundogs’, lightning, mountain landscapes, desert landscapes, staunch saguaros and prickly pear in bloom, insects and other crawlers, cityscapes and forest environments, deep ruby-red chili peppers strung in big ristras; not to mention the beauty and intense colors of the Red Rock country at Sedona displaying various reds and cream colored layers of geologic time)
- Arriving in late spring - early summer meant large numbers of differing smells of wild and landscape flowers complemented the spicy aromatic cuisine of the area, monsoonal rains were preceded by that intense nostalgic smell of dust being kicked up by the incoming storm hard to describe accurately but instantly recognizable by almost anyone!.
- The touch of the summer’s triple digit temperatures upon my skin penetrated my being and felt like a warm massage on my bones! There are also beautiful things to be viewed but carry a distinctive Do Not Touch warning!
Prickly Pear Cactus in Red Rock SP
- As a youngster I once went through the fear of thunder and lightning like many, but later grew out of that insecurity. Long ago I’d grown to love the sound and sensation of so much power overhead. Here in Arizona experiencing the progression of billowing clouds during the monsoon as they meandered across the desert brought excitement and a delight - each day. The sounds of the thundering storms were like a symphony complete with BIG strobe lights and dumped torrents of refreshing rain to the landscape. Many of the monsoonal concertos lasted into the night creating a boisterous but comforting backdrop of sound to fall asleep to.

- Most regions of the world boast foods and specific flavors that celebrate and identifies the culture of that community or connection of the inhabitants. Arizona as part of the Southwest Region of the US has peppers among its native food stuffs. If you’ve ever smelled or tasted fresh chilli peppers – “ya already know what I mean!”  While I prefer to eat foods that don’t send my tongue and mouth into ThreatCon 10, I do love the flavor of mild chili peppers. Here in Arizona, I’m in the pot’s pit of the pepper pool!  - LOL   
So suffice it to say there are a number of reasons I count myself lucky to now be living in Arizona. I truly feel like I’ve “retired and gone to Heaven” but hope that my enthusiasm at sharing the information doesn’t sound too much like boasting for fear it will bring bad luck and tarnish my positive view! LOL

I do consider my friends in other parts of the country even when I’m feeling so blessed, and truly wish that you could all be here with me to share in the Arizona experience. However, realizing you all probably won’t be here with me I’ll try to restrain myself as I offer tidbits to share with you some of my positive encounters:
            I'll list just a few of them here to try to share the essence that is my Arizona experience:

- The atmosphere, the environment, the activity, the energy makes me feel ALIVE!
- The warmth of the Arizona sunshine is something I'd needed for many, many years. Having grown up in New Orleans, lived part of my adult life in Miss., Texas and South Florida, Calif., Wash., Ohio, and Oregon I can say definitively regarding the triple-digit-temperatures in the Arizona summer - it really does matter that "it's a DRY heat." As I understand, this has been a more intense summer than they've seen here for a number of years. I, and my kids (daughter and son-in-law), have just sailed through it. In fact we have all absolutely loved the hot days, having been cold for so long! Yes, we were mindful about being out and about at mid-day but even venturing out during 100+ degree portions of the day I absolutely loved that feeling of being warm down to the bone!

Monsoonal Clouds
- Even the monsoons (which did bring with it some uncomfortably humid days and nights through August along with creepy crawlies that I would prefer to do without - roaches, scorpions and black widow spiders!) gave us spectacular thunder and lightning storms on a daily basis! Each afternoon we could count on the sky-show of billowing clouds and downpours of refreshing rainfall. That smell of impending rain as the dust is kicked up across the desert by the preceding winds is intoxicating. I counted myself lucky as I sat on the patio watching those clouds sail along the sky, begin to build in big active round forms, turn dark ominous-gray and then explode dropping their payload of earth-washing moisture! I have a ‘gully’ or a 'wash' just behind my house that separates my backyard from the golf course (still mowed and maintained to a degree but I sort of dread that they will start using it again for 'golf'- currently it's used by many of us as the world’s best walking park.). Anyway the 'wash' funnels the runoff from surrounding hills and so far has protected the neighborhood homes from monsoon floods (though we all understand that there's always the threat of that 100 year event!) I now have a thorough understanding of the phrase I've heard in the movies for years and years: I now know what a 'gully-washer' really is! LOL
Arizona Sorbet
- Monsoon season ended a couple of weeks ago.

Though we've still seen one or two minor rainstorms, we are sad to see them end. Now, however, the days are absolutely 'picture perfect' - deep blue sky, bright sunny days with sensory perfect temperature through the days and not too cold into the nights. Whether I'm working on projects in the house, touring the landscape, visiting nearby neighbors, walking the trails, sitting on the patio or headed for town to get errands done it's just such a pleasant environment.

- My immediate neighborhood is quiet and pleasant. On one side a young couple with a toddler. They aren’t home that often. On the other side of them a very nice late-middle-aged couple. He an artist - especially loves metal art, there property is tastefully decorated with his art. Other side of me lovely folks from Canada. The house is their vacation home. They come as often as they can and were here in early September. Already wonderful friends. They came over for dinner one evening and we spent most of the night singing and playing guitar! Kris, originally from London, is a master guitarist and has his own recording studio in Winnepeg. We were all lost in the magic of the music. Those old-folk-songs are universal and really bring people together - LOL.

- Nextdoor to them another lovely couple and already good friends. I love their southwest-style home. Tracy originally from Wyoming, Lincoln actually grew up in Burns!
How's that for a small world!!

Ballooning photos by Elizabeth and Jonathan Nash
 - I won't even mention the photo opportunities ‘EVERYWHERE’!

That would take another hour of writing but I'll just note my love of The Red Rock country! The Red Rocks of Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon are the kinds of photographic landscape I've been searching for throughout the US all my adult life. I'm not interested in any of the 'so-called Mystic qualities' for which the area is well known but the beauty of that landscape sends me into a photographer's Nirvana! More detail about the Red Rocks at a later date. 

I took the photo of the Red Rocks under snowcover last winter. One of my favorite images and favored hiking places.

- The community where my house is, is truly lovely, but modest, well maintained homes with lots of gardens and attention to the aesthetically pleasing . My walks have taken me throughout. Haven't met an unfriendly resident yet. A wonderful little community park bordered by a few shops and one of my favorite eateries (Crickets) sits about a mile away from home. I often walk there for lunch or just to visit and to see what's happening – community bulletin boards, park benches, roses and shrubs and a small lawn area nicely maintained make it inviting as a peaceful retreat from the heat. I joined a watercolor group there.

- There are 4 or 5 nearby towns in which to shop or take care of any other of life's necessities, and that's not including Flagstaff or Phoenix. I'm not in any big hurry to go to Phoenix, except maybe to see the museums or the botanical gardens etc. (maybe next year). I do enjoy an occasional trip to Flagstaff. Had wanted to see Lowell Observatory since I was a star-gazing kid growing up in New Orleans! Jon and Beth took me there for my birthday in June. What a treat!!!

Lowell Observatory Telescope
- Last week, my daughter got an unexpected day off from work so we decided we should go to the Grand Canyon. It's THAT close! A great day-trip. More detail at a later date.

Well this is only a very SHORT list of why I love being here. I'd promised several months ago to begin a new blog to chronicle my move and experiences in the new southwest home, but I must admit I have been spending so much time enjoying life here I haven't taken the time to write about it!! I’m so glad I was spurred on to begin to put it into words. I really needed to do that.
I've really always shied away from 'bragging' or from presenting information that I felt might bring envy to others, but SINCE I WAS ASKED (lol) yes, the Arizona Envy - from my perspective is very justifiable!

I've experienced some pretty nice areas around the country, and I certainly will always treasure the landscape of SE Oregon, and Puget Sound and the Channel Islands of Southern California, even Tar Hollow State Park in southern Ohio, the Yucatan Peninsula and the Florida Keys but I am especially thankful that I did NOT find this Arizona landscape early in my life, because I might not have ever left, missing out on other lovely landscapes!!!  LOL
It just all makes me sigh, "Ahhhhh Arizona!"

Oh, as a side note: yes of course there are 'negatives' to living here. I've experienced a few things.... but at the moment, I can't think of any worth writing about! LOL!
 * All photos and written works copyrighted by Marie Jarreau unless otherwise noted.

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