Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sonoran Desert or New England?

If you were to see the picture above in say Yankee Magazine you might assume it was a quaint New England dirt road. With late May patches of snow along the sides of the road and dandelions popping up with their bright yellow flowers you just might think it was Vermont in springtime or perhaps Western Massachusetts where I grew up.

You would be wrong by about 3000 miles. The scenes are actually pictures I took at the top of Mt Lemmon in Arizona yesterday. Closer examination will reveal that the maples and oaks that are common to New England are replaced here by the Aspens and the white pines that are prevalent up north are Ponderosa Pines here. The feel of a walk in the woods is the same though, the quiet rustling of the leaves in the breeze, the singing of robin redbreasts and of course the melting snow is mostly gone and very dirty just like it would be in New Hampshire or Maine at this time of year.

There is of course the effects of the 2003 Aspen fire that killed so many of the majestic Ponderosa Pines that 7 years later looks like nothing I have ever seen in New England. The recovery is painfully slow in human terms but in terms of the forest is well under way.

Another place I like to visit when I want the New England feel is Ski Valley where you can ride the ski lift to the top of the mountain through the grassy meadow. So much of New England is green and so much of Arizona is not that a visit here refreshes my spirit in a way that you can only imagine. I will return here often this summer to escape the plus 100 degree heat and slip quietly back into my youth.