Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Springtime in the Old Pueblo

Ah, nothing says spring like a cliched blog entry on the topic, no? So, watch for the usual: discussion of local spring versus national spring, discussion of the weather, picture of flowers, reflection on knitting during warm temperatures.

For a few weeks now I've been noticing a springtime trend in other people's blog entries, complete with beautiful pictures of blooming bulbs and daffodils, etc. And I enjoy reading about spring in other parts of the country, I really do. Now, according to the weather reports and several recent blog entries, parts of the country have backslid into winter's last hurrah. Newly-planted flowerbeds have been blighted with frost, and lovely sprouting bulbs have had their genitals freeze and wither (it's true you know: those pretty pretty flowers are the plants' baby-making gear).

To this I have one response: Luckyyyyyy.

Here in southern Arizona, spring is a razor-thin month and a half and is defined by two natural occurrences: temperatures in the low to mid 90's, and the presence of pollen. Lots. Of pollen. Arizona has one of the highest pollen counts in the country. For the past month, according to weather.com, Tucson's pollen counts have been either 'high' or 'very high,' with few exceptions. But in case you're wondering, it wasn't always this way. We used to have one of the lowest pollen counts in the country. Sure, the desert would always bloom in spring, but compared to other parts of the country it was nothing. That is, until people with bad allergies moved down here and brought their allergen-producing plants with them to a region with an early and long growing season. Smart: S-M-R-T.

Now let me take a step back and remind you of the other big springtime signifier: temperatures in the 90's. In some parts of the country temps in the 90's is as hot or hotter than it gets alllll summer. But here, it's just part of spring's glory. When the temperature is in the low or mid 90's, we know it's spring. But when it edges into the upper 90's, it's summer. Even in the desert, 98 degrees cannot masquerade as spring's gentle warmth. 92 degrees can, but 98? No.

So for anyone lucky enough to reside in a cooler part of the country I say count your blessings. Your flower bed may have been destroyed by a late frost, but you can replant. We here in the old pueblo will not see cooling temperatures for another 6 months. Literally.

But springtime in Arizona isn't all bad. Witness our palo verde trees, which bloom abundantly into brilliant yellow firecrackers each year:

OK, so the color quality on these photos isn't super. But trust me, these blooms are bright, bright yellow. Lovely.

And come summertime, what's a desert-dwelling knitter to do? Knit socks? Knit lace? Well, yes and yes. I am hoping to knit some lace, a few sweaters (we'll see), and plenty of socks this summer. Socks are a good choice because they don't cover your lap as you knit, and the superwash sock yarn has the added bonus of not felting in your fingers. Seriously. When it's 110 degrees outside you've got to plan your projects carefully.

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