When my friend Molly came to stay with Paul last year, while Dave and I were out of town (thank you Molly, we love you Molly), she mentioned that Tucson was awfully green for a city in the desert. This comment struck me as funny: I went to grad school in Phoenix (well, Tempe, but all the suburbs blur together), and that is objectively a much greener city. (I’m using “green” here in the classical sense, to denote a color, not a sense of environmentalism. As it happens, being more saturated with the color is, in this sense, the opposite of being saturated by the spirit of environmentalism.)

In Phoenix, where it is routinely 10-15 degrees hotter than Tucson (and it was 110 degrees here last night at 5pm), people nonetheless maintain green lawns and English gardens. They do this by positioning their lawns a few inches below street level, and flooding them several times a week: this is a municipal service. The lawns have little discs that someone from the city unscrews, releasing the many gallons of water that are required for people to pretend they live in an oasis, and not the actual desert.

(I read a book about the Phoenix/Tucson rivalry once that characterized the ire exactly this way: that Tucson views itself as a desert city, and Phoenix and oasis. In my experience, this has been the case.)

However, looking at my yard this morning, I must admit that Molly has a point. Tucson is full of green: the bumbershoot peaks of the mesquite trees, the abundant agaves, the prickly pears. A surprising amount thrives here in the heat of summer, thanks to the monsoons and whatever combination of natural and unnatural selection that has created this exact time and place. Sometimes the prickly pears grow taller than a person, and pieces of them flop and fall off. A paddle of cactus can grow a new cactus, the same way you can pinch a piece off of someone’s established succulent and propagate it in a pot back home. Life finds a way.

Anyway. That’s all. We’ve been having a two-week-long heatwave, and I’m trying to make the best of it until the weather breaks. Vacation isn’t for a little while yet, and I am very tense in the shoulders and the spine. Life is here. Life is finding a way.