Salmon Hued Blues

Well, this is it–the last LJ post from sunny Arizona. Tonight the computer is packed, the phone unplugged, and my next showing on the ‘net will be in a week-and-some-change (how much change depends on how fast our net gets hooked up) from currently sleety North Carolina.

Since I believe firmly that one should not wallow in nostalgia, and I am not a piner-after-things by nature, I’m going to take this opportunity to reiterate what I like about Arizona and what I’ll miss, just so it’s out of my system, and I can go after NC with a clean slate, and hopefully be excited by what I find there.

I will miss salmon.

Not the fishy, but the color. Arizona, land of the macho gun-totin’ cowboy, is in fact predominately pink–an orangey, terra-cotta raw-salmon pink, to be sure, but pink nonetheless. The rocks and gravel are pale pink. The roofs are dark terra-cotta, occasionally with pink adobe. The mountains are a sort of dirty unsaturated mauve.

In NC, I am fairly sure, pink will look awfully weird, but Arizona, for whatever reason, can sustain cotton-candy colored buildings and they look perfectly appropriate. Even blinding teal works. And I’ll miss that.

I will miss the houses with linen-colored adobe walls and rich terra cotta shingles. I will miss the square little pueblo style buildings–if I was gonna design a house, it would be a pueblo style collection of cubes, because I love the look–modern rustic whatsit. Such houses would melt in NC, so it’ll be awhile.

I will miss the sky. The sky over Arizona is, for no reason that I can determine, harder than anywhere else I’ve ever been. It is a hard blue, like a ceramic glaze. Some days you think you could bang your knuckles on it and it would ring like a copper bowl. At sunset, however, it turns–you guessed it–salmon again, a sort of perfect salmon-to-gold gradient so slick and crisp and pure that you suspect the desert gods of keeping a copy of Photoshop stashed somewhere in the back.

I will miss the sun. Despite a negligable difference in distance from our primary, and in defiance of all logic, it ain’t the same sun. The Arizona sun is bleaching and tawny and dusty and makes everything it touches look like a potential prop for “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” and it requires a great deal of effort on the part of strip malls and homeowners to counteract this tendency. The light is the color of fossilized honey and old bone.

The dirt here is pink and white, the color and fineness of unbleached flour, and is more like dust that got grandfathered in. Presumably there’s a dark brown potting-soil-ish loam under something somewhere, but I haven’t seen it.

I will miss palm trees, which have joined flamingos in the hinterlands of tacky iconography, but, like flamingos, are still themselves cool, in an ungainly, high-maintence sort of fashion. I will also miss cacti, because there’s nothing in the world quite like a cactus. The only thing that looks like a saguaro is another saguaro. The only thing that looks like a prickly pear is another prickly pear. The only thing that looks like an octillo is found in deep sea trenches next to sulfer spitting vents, and lives on bioluminescent fish and irony.

I will miss the wildlife. I will miss the quail with their little topknots and expressions of permanent, cautious, idiocy. I will miss the jackrabbits, who have stilt legs and semaphore ears and all appear to be strung out on some serious methamphetamines. I will miss Inca doves, which are like regular doves, only small, and with elegant feathers, each feather outlined in dark grey, so they look like they’re wearing gossamer chainmail. I will miss the woodpeckers that drill on palm trees, because I have still not gotten use to the sheer unnaturalness of that, and I’ll miss the big, glum gray anteaters at the local zoo.

I will miss the potential to have my trash rummaged by javelina, not that it ever happened–I’m in the middle of a city, after all.

I will miss hummingbirds. People trying to describe hummingbirds always find themselves stuck with the phrase “living jewels.” Rather than succumb to unoriginality, I proffer the alternate descriptions–they’re like hyperactive Jolly Ranchers with wings. They are small oil-slick-rainbows with eyes. They’re what would happen if you asked Salvador Dali to design a rhinoceros. Screw it, they’re like hummingbirds. There’s nothing else quite like ’em. They are also completely insane, being size sixteen spirits stuffed into size .0005 bodies. A hummingbird, in its own mind, is ten stories tall with grendade launchers and gunports. A hummingbird knows, down in the hollow toothpicks of its bones, that it can kick your ass.

I will miss 70 degree weather in January, and chile peppers as object d’art and the peculiar sight of adobe pueblo houses hung with icicle christmas lights by people in shorts. I will miss the desert, which is not like any other desert, but more like a Zen garden put together by very small, very busy Zen monks who visited Sparta in their youth and came back with a really nasty sense of minimalist humor. It is an interlocking desert. Everything fits together like a koan, and when you get to the bottom of it, you find something pointy or fanged or sharp. I can appreciate that. There is a certain kind of beauty to a desert that will produce extravagant pink flowers and three inch thorns on the same plant.

I’ll very much miss my father and stepmother, who managed to turn what could otherwise have been a really unpleasant sojourn in joblessness into a really positive experience–I’m glad they were here, and I’m glad I got to know ’em again.

I’ll miss a lot of things, but those are the ones that occur to me.

And now–North Carolina ho!

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