Thursday, May 22, 2008

...first 100's...and then a cool rainy end...

Tucson's average yearly date for the first 100-or-more-degree-day is May 26th. This year we hit it early--this past Monday and Tuesday the afternoons topped out at 102.

Today, the high was in the freakishly 'cool' 70's. As I'm typing this, it's raining (!) and in the 50's, with the occasional rumble of thunder. The mountain snow (!) level is down to 7500'. And today was students' last day of school.

As the school-year ends, my wife and I are approaching our one-year 'anniversary' here in Arizona--we arrived last summer, and with our first desert fall-winter-spring-cycle behind us, summer begins again, and the a/c isn't even on tonight. Bizarre.

So tomorrow I return to school, student-less, to do some grunt-work. Exams are over and grades are entered, but I have to pack up and move from one classroom to another; the school is re-organizing itself for the 'smaller-learning-community' concept. I'm actually looking forward to it, but, hélas, I will have to say au revoir to my vue des montagnes:

Ahh, les montagnes--literally Tucson's backyard.

This past Sunday, which almost hit 100 degrees, my wife and I decided to escape the heat for a bit by doing what most Tucsonans often do during the summer--driving up into those mountains...

...the first scenic pull-off on the Catalina Highway offers this view of the city--surprisingly green beyond the flowering saguaro...

And about two-thirds of the way up, 20 degrees cooler, under the pines, the ferns are unfolding among the wildflowers:

I remember one trip up there, the spring of my first-grade year, when another family and mine drove up from Sierra Vista to picnic and pick those forest ferns--before they open, they are "fiddleheads," an edible delicacy commonly eaten in NE Asia and New England. My Korean mother delighted in picking the free 'spring vegetables' (go-sa-ree) and my father remembered them from his childhood in Maine--"têtes de violon" in good français canadien...

My wife and I were in the mood for a creekside hike, and at the end of the road, past Summerhaven, just below 9000 feet, we finally found it:

A few more late spring wildflowers... ...and dappled sunlight through the still-filling-in-trees...hard to believe that this deciduous world is only a 45-minute drive from the saguaros...30 degrees cooler, too...felt like walking on a New England forest trail:

The drive down is always fun, curving past 'hoo-doo' rock formations...

...and the occasional side-car:

We've been picking a few roma tomatoes from our patio garden for a week or so--and I noticed this "flower-print" on the top. I'd never seen that before on a tomato:

And with that minutiae, it is definitely time to sign off.
Let summer begin.
And--for the first summer in several years, my wife and I are so relieved that we don't have to move!
The summer of 2005 was the year we packed up and moved from Seattle to Nicaragua...summer 2006 we moved back from Central America to the Pacific NW, and last summer brought us here.
Home-grown tomatoes and heat--bring it on.

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