Monday, Mar. 29, 2004 | 10:41 p.m.



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Still More Coolness

Springtime Ruminations

My lawn turned green in a matter of minutes this week and all the trees and bushes are either full of buds or full of those tiny, spring-green new leaves. I love springtime in the Midwest. Today I stood outside with Nina and showed her the new leaves. She grinned a delighted little grin and I asked Jeff if we were crazy to be going to Arizona where we will definitely NOT have this kind of a springtime experience. I wish the economy here were such that we had a choice, but between that and the draw of family, it's back to the firepit.

The high country of Arizona is alluring, but too expensive and again with the economy thing. Maybe we can visit there often between March and November of each year. Of course, our good friends from up there now live down in the Valley, so the free lodging is out the window.

There are good things about Arizona, though, even in the summer. The one thing that kept me sane when we lived there before was the monsoon season. In late July and August, if we are lucky, we get tremendous thunder storms in the desert, with lots of lightning, thunder and blowing dust. It's very exciting because it is weather in the midst of endless days of scorching sun and also because it cools down for about ten minutes before the humidity makes it feel like 130 degrees again. The creosote bushes in Arizona give off a wonderful smell when it rains and I've missed that here in Illinois, so that will be nice to return to.

Moonlight out in the middle of the desert is pretty awesome, whatever the season. And large expanses of undeveloped land will be nice (as long as you stay out of the Phoenix area, you can still find these).

When I moved to Illinois, I was amused by people who don't "like" air conditioning. They wouldn't last three minutes in July in Arizona before they'd be crying for the Lennox like babies. Try getting into a car in Arizona with no air conditioning. You'll spend the first fifteen minutes praying for a chance to exceed forty miles per hour so the convection oven air can singe the sweat off your body as quickly as you can produce it. With air conditioning it still takes a good fifteen minutes for your car to cool down. Some people keep oven mitts in their cars so they don't melt their hands on the steering wheel. If you were to leave a VHS cassette on your dashboard, or even your seat, you would come back to a melted black mass of plastic.

The other amusing thing was people who talked about how much "nicer" it is in Arizona in the summertime because it's a "dry" heat. Hilarious! First of all, dry or not, 115 degrees is HOT. Second, the heat in Arizona is unrelenting during the summer. The thermometer does not go below 100 until it's over, unless it's at night, when 95 is a cool night. Here in Illinois, it's not as hot AND there are these lovely breaks of coolness in between the heat waves. It's a beautiful thing.

Anyway, my random thoughts of the season... my tulips are about to bloom in the front yard and the ground is thawed enough to do some planting. I can't wait to get started!

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