This morning Arizona began what is expected to be four consecutive days of temperatures at freezing or below, the first time that has happened since 1988, with cold air coming directly up from the Arctic. (The Arctic? Seriously?) So everyone is talking about the “hard freeze”. (Is there such a thing as a soft freeze?)
Cover your plants!
Put a bucket on top of your cactus!
We have weather!!!
In the meantime, the snowbirds are walking around in shorts and looking at us like we’re crazy. There have actually been reports of them calling us wimps. But there is nothing like months and months of warm weather to turn one into a wimp. And only in Arizona can someone holding a thermometer that currently registers forty degrees actually make it onto the news.
It’s easy to get caught up in the thrilling nature of...well…nature. Yesterday I came home from work full of information about how we needed to protect our outside pipes by covering them up, running the pool motor all night and leaving the outside faucets dripping slightly. Until my practical husband reminded me that back in New Jersey we also had outdoor faucets, and even during nights when the temps hovered around zero, they never burst.
And how about those outdoor plants? Nowhere will you see such angry prickly foliage better taken care of than here. Like truculent teenage offspring, our plants may cut us just because we walk too close to them, but there’s no way we’re going to let them catch a chill. I’ll wager there are more sheets and blankets currently on your neighborhood’s bouganvilla than even exist in some Third World countries. The cactus are wearing hats, and the news is churning out reports of how to recognize frostbite on them, as though they were motherless babies that somehow showed up overnight on doorsteps everywhere.
But what did these plants do before we all got here? What about the cactus in the still undeveloped parts of the state? Do they wear hats? No. They do what they’ve always done. They survive or, if this cold gets them a little down, they revive.
I admit it’s a bit chilly. Last night when I went out I did something I rarely do. I wore my full-on winter coat that came here with me from New Jersey. And as I walked through a restaurant I heard a woman (no doubt a winter visitor) say to her dinner partner, “People are actually wearing coats!”
Yes, lady, we wear coats in this weather. And boots and scarves and gloves. Because it’s so rare that we can, and because we get sick to death of shorts, tee shirts and flip flops! But we are still human beings. If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you expose us to 110 degrees, do we not sweat? (Actually, we don’t. That may be where the line is drawn between us and the snowbirds.)
Cut us a break. We don’t have furnaces, only heat pumps, and the house is chilly even with the heat on. It’s a no burn weekend. And it seems like every day another thousand or so of us have the flu. Something’s gotta give.
So calm down, everybody. It will get warm again, your plants will make it, and it is okay to wear a real coat in public. One day in July, we will look back on this weekend and become misty-eyed.
And you snowbirds? We welcome you and your spending. We understand Arizona is not cold compared to wherever you came from. But let’s make a deal: don’t make fun of how we handle “winter”, and we won’t make fun of your driving habits.
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