Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Love of Landscape

The place where I went to college is rumored to be the second rainiest place in the US after Seattle. I can’t tell you if this is actually true or not, but I can tell you that it felt true. And that I hate rain. I hate umbrellas and the way puddlely sidewalks always splatter the bottoms of your jeans, and I hate the way my hair turns to instant frizz when it’s raining, no matter what I do to try to stop it. Though I loved my four years at Penn State, I can’t say I was sad to leave all that rain behind when I left to go to graduate school in Tucson 10 years ago.

It felt crazy, at first, moving across the country from a place of luminous green and snowy mountains to a place of cactus and dry (but intense) summer heat and desert landscapes. But at the time, I figured it would only be two years, that it would be an adventure.

Yet something happened to me during those two years. I fell in love with the dry, dry air. I fell in love with the constant sunshine. I fell in love with the brown mountains that surround Tucson, that sometimes make me feel like I’m living in a postcard. And then it felt impossible to leave all that behind.

And thus my favorite things about living in Tucson are not so much the attractions you can visit, the things you can do or see or eat (although, I do love the Mexican food), but just the place itself. The dry, crisp air. The saguaro cacti that seem to stretch up the sides of mountains for miles. The winter weather filled with days that are perfect for long walks and taking kids to the park and eating dinner outside. I love that 60 degrees now feels cold to me.

I love the miniature hummingbirds that flutter in my bougainvillea and the jackrabbits that eat my teeny tiny patch of (irrigated, of course) grass. I love the real honest to goodness road runners and quail that dart in front of my car.

I love that the brown mountains turn purple and orange every day at sunset, and that the prickly pear cactus bloom with brilliant pink flowers in the spring. I love that often at night, when it is cool and dark and the air is clear, I can hear coyotes howling from somewhere not too far away.

Part of this landscape I tried to re-create in The Life of Glass, because living here, I think it’s become something I’ve absorbed, something that felt big and important enough to my life to become a part of a story. I hope that when readers pick up The Life of Glass, they’ll be able to understand, to see it, to imagine it, just a tiny part of this landscape that I’ve come to love.

And speaking of The Life Of Glass, I’ve got a “three-months-and counting contest” (because yes, it’ll be out in three months!!) going on over at my blog. You can click here to read about it and enter to win a signed ARC and a $25 Sephora giftcard!!


Jenny Gardiner said...

Hmmm, bad weather at Penn State? Absolutely impossible ;-) (yeah, we fled SOUTH afterward!)

Tracy Madison said...

LOL, I'm one of those weird girls who actually like the rain. I know...

Beautiful post, Jillian. I can see everything you described.