Every day in Tucson begins with sunshine. But when it’s 70 degrees at 8 a.m. that’s cause to celebrate. When the light makes everything look crisper, more shaded along the edges, clearer than the summer haze, well, that’s September.
And curiously, the light is the same here as it is during a Maine September. For a new Englander, a former teacher — and a mother — September is always the beginning. Not just the incomparable MacIntosh apple-picking days or the start of school, this is the beginning of Brook’s birthday week. She’ll be 34 on Sept 25.
Yesterday was the beginning of the most beautiful season in Tucson, when you can hike after 6 a.m. without melting in 100-degree heat. At around 9:30 I headed for Finger Rock north on Campbell, winding from the center of Tucson into the Foothills where the expensive, enormous houses practically hug the magnificent Santa Catalina Mountains, at least 8,000 feet high. The trail I was taking is noted for a rocky digit pointing toward the sky. I’ve never been to the top.
There’s a favorite stopping place along the way where I’ve taken my grown-up kids to picnic and read the Sunday New York Times when they both visited last. Yesterday I wanted to see desert flowers blooming after all the rain we had last week. Yup, there were fish-hook cacti with yellow flowers, their soft centers attracting insects. The Ocotillo stalks were all greened up with leaves but no grape-like sprigs of orange blossoms.
My Sunday Times awaited on the front seat of my car. But for a short time I didn’t want to think about the world’s troubles. I wanted only to report on flowers.
It got warmer as I descended the trail. Next stop the Apple Store; I needed a MacBook Air superdrive, had to have one so I could watch movies and listen to music on my new computer, which I’ll admit, I bought because it’s so damn gorgeous.
La Encantada is the fanciest mall in Tucson. The Apple Store was mobbed, no shortage of dollars in that small space. So I proudly swung my small high-tech purchase in its bag on my wrist. I was one of the fortunate ones. I headed over to AJ’s Fine Foods. It was mobbed too. Shelf after well-stocked shelf gleamed with beautiful products for beautiful, or at least rich, people.
A colleague often gets coffee and a muffin at AJ’s on her way to work. I’ve noticed their bag on her desk and wondered how expensive the goodies were. Really not bad, I discovered, the only affordable edibles in the store (I had checked it out after AJ’s opened. When I found a “special” of lobster tails from new Zealand for $49.95 a pound I never returned.)
After chomping down an all-fruit low-fat muffin and a creme brulee decaf iced coffee on my short drive home, I was ready to tackle the Sunday Times. Or so I thought. Afterwards I was planning to see “Happy,” a documentary at our artsy Loft Cinema. (Not for Dan, besides he was resting after his morning bike ride).
Reading the Times, I marked a de Kooning exhibit at MoMa, a Stieglitz exhibit and new galleries on Central Asia at the Met I wanted to see in New York over my Thanksgiving visit. Then came the hard part: Maureen Dowd’s Op-Ed on why Republicans disdain smart people while milking the poor, or yell about “class warfare” as a way for millionaires to pay less taxes. I read about millionaires living on enormous investment income are taxed at 15 percent while most of us are taxed at 35 percent.
I didn’t go see “Happy” and I had a short unhappy glitch last night. But my life is good. It would be nice for everyone to have a chance to smell the roses.