1. Phoenix lies at the northern-most point of the Sonoran desert. The Aztecs called it the “Land of the Bone People.” Smart people, the Aztecs, except for Sunday morning church services. The desert does not have sand dunes ala Lawrence of Arabia; rather, it looks like this most of the time:
The exception is spring if there is adequate rain: it blooms with millions of wildflowers.
2. For the entirety of 2009, total rainfall for Phoenix was less than 4 inches. The population of the metropolitan area for the year 2008 was 4.3 million [Wikipedia], not counting illegal aliens [my guess]. Nevertheless, there are no water restrictions, except for golf courses. With thousands of swimming pools, year-round grass (bermuda in the summer, rye in the winter), and a metro-wide anal obsession for washing cars, the reservoirs and Lake Powell are at all-time lows. But nobody seems to give a shit.
3. I love the name of the airport: Sky Harbor. Unfortunately, the planes land and take-off just as they do anywhere else. It would be nice if it were a true Sky Harbor, just hovering over the tarmac and dropping rope ladders to load the peanut entrees, the tiny bottles of airplane helper, and passengers.
4. Palm trees are not indigenous to the desert and require care in the form of trimming. If one does not trim one’s palms, this is what happens:
Notice all the dead fronds above the firefighter. Cockroaches love to nest there. When tall palms are struck by lightening they have a tendency to explode, which in turn sets nearby houses on fire from the flaming fronds. But palm trees can be your friend if you are good to them in return.
5. Phoenix and its suburbs have a lot of pests. Not only do we have Jehovah’s Witnesses attempting to save us, but we also have a mess o’ Mormons.
6. Phoenix and its suburbs also have a lot of insects. Sometimes Martha isn’t too observant, as was the case when she happened to look at a cardboard box of files at work. Noticing that most of the files were little more than sawdust, she was told they’d been eaten by termites. “Good!” she said. “Now I won’t have to haul that heavy sucker upstairs to storage.” Insects can be your friend if you are good to them in return.
7. During the summer, which lasts about six months, the temperature gets a might toasty. But it’s a dry toast with little or no humidity—a boon for people with lung diseases. It's the pollution that kills.
8. Phoenix, like Texas and Florida, is a retirement haven for the elderly. In addition, we have a monied influx of snowbirds (or sunbirds, depending on your perspective), retirees from western Canada and the middle states of the U.S. Imagine, if you will, Ma & Pa Hayseed from Nowhere, Kansas piloting their Queen Mary on Wheels through a maze like this:
It isn't necessarily the fact of being elderly that causes daily chaos. The freeways are designed by sociopathic engineers with the strangest on- and off-ramps I've ever encountered. And this is the confluence of just two highways—you oughta stop by sometime and take a gander at the three stackers!
9. Residents of Phoenix are referred to as Phoenicians (the latter is called a "demonym," a new word for me). I, along with Martha, live in the suburb of Chandler, so I guess our demonyn is Chandlerite. In any event, try out this new word at the next high-brow party or low-brow tavern you attend. “Hey, babe, what’s your denonym?” will probably elicit a good poke in the eye with one of those sharp drink umbrellas.
10. To me, the best thing about Phoenix is the wildlife. Just south of the city is the Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation— and wild horses that roam as freely as they did thousands of years ago. Sometimes, they are quite close to the highway in the dry Gila River bed, every one a different size and color—but of course I never carry a camera. They are awesome.
Flicks of some of our other wildlife:
The Mediterranean gecko. We have two who live in the house to eat flies and crickets.
Hummingbirds, They are extremely territorial here because of a lack of nectar. Feisty little buggers, too: one used to dive bomb Martha and scare the hell out of her.
A road runner. Martha thought they were a figment of my Warner Brothers—cartoon—mind until she saw some on the Gila reservation. "Gee, they're really fast!" she exclaimed like it was front page news.
ADDED 2/28/10: THE SONORAN DESERT IN BLOOM:
So there you have it, a peek at where on earth I live. If you have questions in your comments I will, with joy and glad tidings, attempt to answer them.