Sunday, February 27, 2011

Snow in Tucson

This morning I awoke, opened the bedroom door, and glanced out back as I headed toward the kitchen to make coffee. I stopped dead in my tracks and said, "Oh . . . my . . . word!"

Lemon Tree in My Yard
I probably shouldn't have been so surprised. After all, the weather report last night had said there was a chance of snow in Vail and I live on the east side of town, not so far from Vail. But I'd brushed off the warning, thinking, no, it doesn't really snow in Tucson. Of course, it does, on occasion.

I've lived here four years and seen snow three times. Once was the first year. A light dusting covered the streets and I thought, "How pretty!" as I got ready for work. The phone rang and I wondered who would be calling at such an early hour as I picked it up. It was one of my coworkers (also a former New Yorker) telling me not to come into work until later. "You're kidding!" I said. After all it didn't look anything like snow we got in New York or Massachusetts.

Weymouth, MA 2005

She patiently explained that people here don't know how to drive in snow and the city isn't equipped to deal with it. There is ONE truck to spread salt on the bridges and it takes a while to get around to all of them. Of course, by the time that happens, the sun comes out and melts everything.

The second time was when I had invited my mother and sister to come to warm, sunny Arizona for Christmas to get away from winter in New York. Much to my chagrin, we had a cold, rainy spell that week and, as we drove back to my house, large, wet flakes mixed in with the rain.

And then there was this morning. An inch of fluffy, wet snow covered everything in the time before the sun rose, turning Tucson into a fairyland. I quickly got my camera to capture this unusual event. I'm not alone. My neighbors, gspecially those with kids, are out in the park, snapping pictures and making snowballs. The little ones have no idea what to do with this stuff.

Children in the Park

I think the parents are more excited than the little ones. After all, they have all kinds of good memories about snow: days off from school, sledding, snowball fights, and hot chocolate afterwards to warm up.

But these are Tucson children. They might have seen snow on a special trip to Mount Lemmon. While snow in the city is rare, snow in the mountains isn't unusual at all. Several times a year the peaks are covered in snow. We even have a ski area on Mount Lemmon.

It doesn't last long. Even now the sun has broken through the clouds and clumps of snow are melting off the trees. Swaths of green grass are opening up in the park. I'm sure it will all disappear by noon and all that will remain will be the stories people will tell when they meet up later today and tomorrow. "Did you get snow?" they'll ask. And those of us who were lucky enough to see it will nod our heads and smile and tell tales of the kids in the park.

Blue Skies
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