Monday, December 15, 2008

It Never Snows in Arizona...

With my apologies to Hammond Albert:
It never snows in Arizona,
But girl don’t they warn ya,
It storms, man it storms.

There are those who hear “Arizona” and think “desert” automatically. They picture arid acres of saguaro cacti and palm trees amidst countryside of sand and low, rocky-topped mountains carved out of the rugged landscape.

If you have ever viewed the vast regional differences, you know that the state of Arizona features geologic designations from low desert on up to altitudes considered alpine. In fact, visitors to the Grand Canyon who approach from the northern edge and make their way down to the bottom of the canyon will go through no less than seven geologic zones and five of the seven life zones - Lower Sonoran, Upper Sonoran, Transition, Canadian, and Hudsonian - along their journey.

I happen to live in an area of eastern Arizona where a ridge of mountains spans the distance from my native New Mexico to the region referred to as the White Mountains on Arizona’s Mogollon Rim. The elevation here ranges anywhere from 6,000 to 8,500 feet above sea level and more. We have a ski area, Sunrise, which tops out at over 9,000 feet in elevation. This is no way – even remotely – a desert area!

For instance, recently I stepped out on my front porch at night in the sub-zero temperatures accompanying sunset to view the spectacular vista set out before me. A full moon illuminated a myriad of majestic pine trees, boughs laden with winter’s snowy bounty. Moonlight cast a blue glow over the pristinely white crystal blanket on the ground, creating a magical scene perfect for Santa’s Christmas Eve ride.

Unfortunately, those photos didn’t turn out but here are some from today’s snow storm. The tree is right outside my bedroom window and the other photo shows the ridge beyond our house (where all the Mogollon Indian pottery shards must surely be buried deep in the snow).

I guess I’m still a kid at heart when it comes to snow. I get excited when I see it and start thinking of snow angels and snowmen and chestnuts roasting on an open fire... The good thing is that staying warm inside while watching the flames in the stove and the big flakes float through the gray sky outdoors is a real boost to my creativity.

Luckily, we are expecting a foot or two of the white stuff in the next couple days. Christmas in the White Mountains is indeed a beautiful time of year.

Merry Christmas!

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