Friday, August 25, 2006

Fascinating Tucson, Part A

Your Weekend Assignment #126: What is the most interesting thing about where you live? "Thing" in this case would be a famous landmark, a famous current celebrity or historical personage from your home town or county, a notable celebration or sports event -- basically, anything that makes where you're from interesting and unique.

Extra Credit: Are there any books that feature your home town (or someplace nearby) in any way?

THE most interesting thing about Tucson? I don't think I can pick one thing. (Big surprise, huh?) I will tell you right off the bat that it's not Flandrau Planetarium, the Diamondback bridge or the statue of Padre Kino. Nor is it the fact that Lee Marvin lived here, John Dillinger was once captured here and Linda McCartney died here. Some Tucsonans might point to the University of Arizona basketball team, but I don't watch basketball. The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is the largest in the country, but I don't care. No, no. None of the suggested ways for a place to be interesting are even in the running as reasons I find Tucson interesting.

As far as I'm concerned, Tucson is most notable for the following:

  • The desert, including the critters, the cacti, the washes, etc.
  • The mountains that surround the city
  • The climate, so different from the Syracuse weather I grew up with
  • The history and culture of the place
Just to drive everyone crazy As an experiment, I'm going to write about two of these at the Outpost,and the other two in Musings.

The Climate


About an hour ago I went to check my facts on Tucson's John Dillinger connection, and ended up rewriting several bits in Wikipedia's article about Tucson. Mostly I was concerned that the article kept referring to the "monsoon season." Since monsoon basically means "rainy season," "monsoon season" ends up meaning "rainy season season."

I grew up in Manlius, New York, outside Syracuse. I'll never forget some of the fun facts about Syracuse weather: 87 sunny days a year (the rest are partly cloudy, cloudy, rain, or snow), lake effect snow, sub-zero weather in winter, occasionally into the low 90s in summer, gray and humid and too often miserable. (Okay, that last bit was editorializing.) By contrast, Tucson claims 360 sunny days a year, which is only fudging things a little bit. Even on days when it rains, it's usually sunny in the morning. The weather is so nice in winter that most people don't even own gloves or mittens. It isn't every year that it snows in Tucson, even once, even melting as it hits. When the snow does "stick" for a few hours, it's a major event, and everyone with a camera takes lots of pictures.

There can't be many people who enjoy a Tucson summer before the monsoon arrives, but it's interesting learning to cope with 110 degree weather, and realizing that people lived here for many centuries before the invention of air conditioning. The monsoon doesn't actually bring the temperature down to the "pleasant" range, at least, it seldom does so. But I find the monsoon endlessly fascinating. The clouds constantly find new shapes and positions for me to photograph, and make the sunsets extra special. Lightning and thunder announce the rain before it pours into the washes and the streets, making for what John and I call "dramatic weather." We love dramatic weather. Then again, we haven't had a tree fall on our house.

The rest of this series:

In Musings: The Desert

Also in Musings: Mountains

At the Outpost: History and Culture

Photos:

Left: Old Tucson desperados

Above: cool clouds, but where did the Santa Rita mountains go? August, 2006.

Top: a rare Tucson snow, 1987.

A blast from the past:
Tucson Pros and Cons

Karen

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3 comments:

Gaboatman said...

Good job on this assignment, Karen. Tucson sounds like a place I want to see one day. By the way, did I ever tell you that Paulette is from upstate New York, too? She hails from a town called Philidelphia, just outside Watertown. I liked the strike-through effect you used, LOL!
Sam

Kelly said...

My favorite part about Tucson was the mountains, the color of the sky in the morning and at night over those mountains! I will never forget it...

My Weekend Assignment

Becky said...

Yep. Still on my list of places I plan to visit. But it may take another year to get there. We've been forced to economize since we recently discovered we are spending more than we've been taking in. :-X