MLA minus one, and counting
Phoenix Art Museum

Back In The Desert

Weatherbug was reading 106 degrees when I walked out of the hotel yesterday afternoon to explore Phoenix a bit.  I wasn't the least bit uncomfortable.  Heat in the desert is a qualitatively different thing from the swampy, humid soup that we deal with in the deep south.  Back home, once the temperature starts climbing into the eighties, I avoid being outside at all if I can.   The muscles in my back kink up, and it feels as if the air itself is smothering.

Completely different here.   At home we're used to looking at the heat index to see how many degrees hotter it really feels than what the thermometer reads.  Here, it's the opposite.  The heat index is generally lower than the thermometer reading.  (For example, right now, at 8:35 in the morning, it's 88 degrees, but weatherbug tells me it feels like 83).

I've never been to Phoenix before, but I've spent a fair amount of time in this part of the country, and I've found that I love the desert.  I love the arid spookiness of it.   The last time I was out here I was camping at Hatch Point, and I took a hike up to the Delicate Arch.  It was 102 degrees and a moderately strenuous hike of a couple of hours.  I drank two liters of water during it, but had a wonderful time.

Drinking water is the key.  The air is so dry, it sucks the moisture right out of you.  For someone from the south, who is used to having a slick sheen of sweat all over when you're outside, it feels like you're not even breaking a sweat.  Your skin is dry because it evaporates that fast.  So your body pushes out more and more, trying to keep you cool, and if you're not replenishing constantly, you'll dehydrate astonishingly fast.  And heatstroke is no fun.

From my hotel room I can see a ridge of low mountains.  I didn't realize there were mountains this close to Phoenix.  They're brown and jagged.  Ancient and mystical.  I'm sure that many people would consider them ugly, but I find 'em fascinating.

I don't have a meeting until 2:00 this afternoon, so I've got time to do some more exploring.  There are museums within walking distance.



I grew up in the cold wet environment of New England. A land full of trees and always green. The first time I went to the desert I was overwhelmed by its stark beauty, its clean unimpeded vistas. I especially fell in love with the colors; brown, orange, sage green set against a cobalt ski. I was in love from the very first moment. There is a mystical quality in Arizona– even in the suburban sprawl of Phoenix. I am so sorry I cannot be there. I was looking forward to MLA in Phoenix. If you get a chance, go up to Cave Creek (it is on the north side of town). It is a nice little village in the northern foothills.

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