‘Zona burbs

Driving up a suburban main street that is better paved and wider than most of the TransCanada highway, we saw a coyote scamper across the not-too-busy four lanes of traffic.  Very cool.  A real desert coyote.  Desert coyotes are bigger than BC’s urban golf-course coyotes.  About 1.5 times larger.  Almost wolf-ish.

Standing on the driveway of our friend’s home, marveling at all the beige-all-over homes and their all-shiny vehicles, I saw a real Roadrunner (the actual bird) run down the street and disappear into someone’s back yard.  That was also very cool.  He/she seemed to be about the size of a chicken but way-stretched out.  Long neck and tail feathers.

I mention those two sightings because they are, of course, symbolic to the area but also because there seems to be very little wildlife, even though this suburb is far out on the Phoenix metropolitan edges.  Part of the reason, I suppose, is that deserts support less wildlife per square mile than do, say, areas like the Okanagan.  Or even our home area.  Another reason, I suspect, is that there are so many guns and so much shooting.  This may NOT be a society of wanton killers or insatiable hunters but there are definitely a larger bunch of shooters and plonkers here than in most places.  There are a lot of gun stores and ranges.

Arizona is still ‘open carry’, too.  Some residents openly carry their handguns in public.  To be fair, I have not seen any and that is largely because ‘concealed carry’ is also legal and I am sure that many people I pass have guns in their purses or in holsters unseen.  I concluded this because at the giant local swap-meet (more like a giant western dollar store under tents) every fifth booth has some gun-related merchandise for sale with holsters and ‘conceal carry’ purses being amongst the more popular.

There is a third reason for less wildlife.  Roundup and chemicals.  The desert has bugs.  It is home to ants in great, vast numbers.  And people who build here in beige subdivisions do not want ants in their home.  So, they use pesticide.  But they do not sprinkle a little box around the place every spring or even use aerosol spray bombs.  They hire roaming squads of Mexicans who carry double Scuba-sized clear plastic tanks on their backs and spray with battery powered wands a concentrated poison in every crook and cranny you can see.  On any given day, I might see three or four guys wandering our neighbourhood spraying lethal crap.  They don’t wear masks.  Some wear gloves.  Some don’t.  This is truly an exercise in death for both the killer and the vanquished.

But they do NOT vanquish.  When Sal and I go for walks, I often look down and see hundreds of little ant-exit holes.  Walk a block on any street and you will find a dozen ant-exits in front of each house.  Look ahead and you might see the local sprayer applying poison to the dozen or so ant-exits he has found in front of the house he is at.  But the neighbours have dozens, too.  And more spring up as you stand and watch.  This is a battle in which we are likely losing more Mexicans than ants.  It’s ridiculous and, worse, thousands and thousands of gallons of this poison is being released in to the community every month.

But walk through the lovely parks and the grass is green.  Trees look good.  Not a bug to be seen.  This is sterile pretty.  False.

I would say we don’t see many birds, either.  You wouldn’t expect to see any if all their food is poisoned.  But there is one species in relative abundance.  A sort of dove…pigeon-esque but slimmer.  Probably a dove.  It coos.

But, that’s basically it.  The odd Chickadee.  Someone’s cat.  There must be more somewhere but we don’t see it.  There may be plenty of wildlife once you get well and truly away from the manicured suburbs but my overall impression is that wildlife in the area is rare.  And there are hardly any bugs but ants.

Our suburb includes hundreds of homes each on decent sized lots (12,000 sft) and costing on average around US$250,000.  Highest price closer to $400K and lowest around $210.  They are all new and have all the mod-cons.  If there is a ‘character’ to the neighbourhood, I don’t see it but the majority of owners are Mormon and there is a number of large Mormon churches sprinkled amongst the homes.  One could say, this is a very ‘white’ neighbourhood but it would not be accurate.  We have said hello to all hues of skin colour, all races and even some of the Mormon’s themselves.  Everyone has been pleasant and friendly.  Having said that, it is not a pedestrian kind of place.  People in Arizona do not walk much.  They need their car to go anywhere and, since their car is right next to their house, they are only briefly glimpsed.  Now and then.  Not often.

Sal and I were followed by two ‘elders’ on bikes during one of our forced marches the other day (Sal has a routine).  Chatting the whole way.  Very nice young men who came by their titles by having enrolled in the ministry of the Mormon church.  They were young but classed as ‘elders’ as a rank of sorts in the somewhat rigid hierarchy of their system.  We engaged them as any polite person might but declined their invitation to come to services as their guests.  But, I liked them.  They were fun.  They laughed at my jokes and that’s how I judge people, mostly.  They wished us a good holiday, reiterated our open invitation and blessed us.  What’s not to like?

Adventure?  Excitement?  Even novelty or interest?  Probably not.  This ain’t the place for that except in one’s imagination.  And we’ve been THERE in Accidental Fugitives.  There are freeways and shopping centres, fast food chains and faux western imagery.  Flat, straight, sunny. Cheap gas and Costco.  And a bit of cactus here and there.  Maybe a coyote, if you get lucky.  But, seriously…?  This is best for those over 80, maybe over 85.

So, we’ll be back…..

9 thoughts on “‘Zona burbs

  1. I sense that not only life is sterile for the wildlife but also unfertile for the people. Sure, the sun shines most of the time but there’s no sense of community, perhaps less than people on the islands.

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  2. OMG!!! The community of anti-social independent loners living OTG and remote who are too old and too distant to commune or gather is 1000’s of times more congenial. There is something happening every week if you want that sort of thing. Hell, you can’t seem to even get lost in the forest anymore without seeing someone you know and chit-chatting. AND then there are the summer tourists!! OMG!!! WE have had maybe four separate visits with just summer-tourist-strangers! Seriously, we have to beat folks off with a stick and still they come!!!

    Here? Not so much. Last time we were here we talked with some Mormon bachelor and, after a few minutes he was saying how lonely he was and how much he appreciated talking with us and then was hugging us…..(no, he was basically normal, just lonely)….

    This ain’t the place to make friends casually altho there are Canuck enclaves throughout the area where it is easy if you want. The people SEEM fine but you just never see ’em.

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  3. The FBI LOVES hiring Mormons.
    The reason?
    Mormon males are required to do the 2 year “mission” and lots of them end up overseas.
    Most learn a foreign language, visit locals, basically mingle with the masses for two years.
    And Mormons don’t drink or smoke.
    Bizarrely enough, it was a pet peeve with J.Edgar Hoover.
    If he smelled booze or cigs on you during your final “interview” before becoming an official “G-man” …….you could be washed out of the program.
    Speaking of Hoover.
    He must be spinning in his grave at the thought of an election result for 2021………………… US President “Castro”!
    a la Democratic Prez candidate Julian Castro from Texas.
    Couldn’t be any worse than Trump.
    Strange times

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      • True .
        But.
        Trump?
        Who seriously thought he was a contender even in the last 6 months of campaigning?
        Everyone was waiting for him to be knocked off the candidates roster….but he kept hanging in…..
        Voters tired of the same old same old , squeaky clean candidates giving rehearsed answers to flat , boring questions….ugh.
        No wonder Trump was like a breath of fresh air.
        His outrageous statements electrified “deplorable” voters who were disgusted by the “choices” offered.
        Hillary had waaaaaay too much baggage. The local dog catcher could have beaten Trump , as long as their last name wasnt Clinton.

        It sad when people vote for a billionaire in the hopes that he hasnt been “bought” by Establishment Lobbyists….
        That being said.
        The look on Trump’s face after he was elected and he had to go meet with Obama was priceless…, “W…T….F…..have I done!”

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      • Hard to rule anything out, nowadays. So…? Maybe Julian ‘flukes’ in? I doubt it. They are setting up Elizabeth Warren. They may set up a couple more but, right now, Warren is the front runner. Hillary will never surface again. The UGLY truth is that the choice is being made right now and the voting process is reduced to either/or. The GOP will likely stick with Trump if he is not in jail. And the Dems are selecting X. The people will choose between Trump or X. Same ol’, same ol’.
        My mother (and every mother) used to play the same game when we were kids….”Would you like creamed spinach or lima beans or, if you want, French baby-style green beans?”
        We thought (at the time) that we had a choice.
        There is no real choice.

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  4. I dont know.
    Elizabeth Warren seems like more of the same old same old to me.
    Will she resonate with the voters?
    Who knows.
    Personally. I dont think so.
    And her platform to increase Medicare and taxes…….the Republicans will be all over that. Screaming bloody blue murder to the masses about how expensive it is( as if Trump hasnt pushed the nation further towards insolvency).
    But hey, negative campaigning works (even when the polled voting population says it doesnt)……

    Voters are fed up with the endless pablum , politically correct BS and I see Warren as “Clinton part Deux”.
    Barely tolerating the “deplorable” vote she will so desperately need.
    An educated, rich, isolated person who couldnt tell you what a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk cost because she hasnt gone shopping in ….decades?
    And she should be elected because…”its time” for a female President?
    Sorry.
    I’m thinkin the redneck vote may have a problem with dat.

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    • Ambivalence held me hostage until the first snow fall. Then I folded and came south. I actually LIKE the climate and temperature (warm at 16-18C in the afternoon – cooler otherwise) but there is little in the way of ‘cafe’ society’, pedestrian people-watching, old-town intimacy. It ain’t a people place. The closest thing to a place to hang out is Scottsdale and it’s about as inviting as Kingsway (tho a bit more upscale, I admit). This is a highway/freeway society. Malls and chainstores. And very, very spread out. But, it is safe, clean and quiet. It is modern, easy-to-navigate and flat. I think that is the nicest thing I can say about it, actually, but, for some it might be good. If I was still golfing, it might be good. If I wanted to buy a restored muscle car it would be good. If I liked shooting it is probably pretty good. But compared to chicken-busing in Central America, scooter-riding in Thailand or narrow-boats on the canals of the UK…it comes up very, very short.

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