Flagstaff, Arizona, USA…Part 1

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View of downtown Flagstaff on U.S. Route 66 wi...

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I’m from Flagstaff, Arizona.  I was born and raised here and have lived most of my life here.  I have lived in other places, but here I am again.  There are times I wish I weren’t, when I am feeling a little restless, but it’s hard to leave.  And for those of you looking to move here, the cost of living is a challenge.  It pays to be frugal here.  Jobs and pay are at a premium.  Home prices and rent are high in comparison to salaries.  All other things are reasonably priced.  Comparably priced, I guess I should say, with other places.

But it’s amazing in so many ways that matter.  The climate is ideal.  Unless you love the rain, or you love the snow, or you love the heat or the humidity.  We aren’t any of those to the extreme.  Technically, we are in a high desert.  7000 ft. in elevation.  We receive something like 25 inches of precipitation per year.  Last winter we received 5 feet of snow over a handful of days, and we hosted the weather channel to document its progression.  This month we were greeted by tornadoes, eight of them confirmed, at last count; two of them did significant damage to the small community of Bellemont, 5 miles west of town, which is home to the National Weather Service for northern Arizona.  But those are aberrations.  We average about 100 inches of snow each winter, and our summer wet season comes in July and August, but it is a happy wet, not a flooding wet.

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Lamenting the End of Summer

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In Flagstaff, you can count on distinct seasons.  Sure, we have only had about a handful of substantial snowfall winters in about the past score of years.  But usually it is still fairly cold.  I guess you kind of can’t help it, since the sun is only out and about for so long each day.  Spring doesn’t so much come in each year with warmer temperatures as it does with all the wind.  When the earth starts tilting more quickly on its way toward the solstice, I guess that is its consequence.  But the crocus and daffodil and tulips reappear, along with the crabapple and cherry blossoms.  Even though the last frost is in mid June, we have a decent growing season, if you want it to be; if you plan a little.  First frost averages right around the autumnal equinox.  It used to be that almost without fail, turning the page on the calendar to October really signalled fall.  Now that’s usually a bit later as well.  Global Warming, perhaps.  Or not.  I don’t make the planet spin, nor do I regulate its chemistry in its totality.  I’m just here as an observer; and hopefully an inspiration to some.  As the seasons here in Flagstaff inspire me.  I know it’s a little early for summer to end, but I’m lamenting its end because summer signals the shift in wind patterns which brings in the “Monsoon.”  August is typically the wettest month on average, and we do some years continue to receive rain into September, but since we are at August 19th, our rainy season is quite possibly about to finish.  And then there is usually a little indian summer before fall returns.  But when fall returns, I will be happy for it to arrive, and then sad to see it end.  But that’s life.  I think I appreciate more all that is good during those moments when I am sad, and remember what is important and inspirational.

Weather in Flagstaff

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It has begun to rain again, fairly light for now, but the radar shows some heavier rain is on its way.  And the flash flood watch was extended throughout the day today.  If you don’t live in the desert southwest, this is the rainy season, with the average start date in early July.  It started a little late this year, having rained about 2 inches in the first three weeks of the month.  It has since rained about 4 inches, officially, in the last week.  With more expected today and tomorrow.  The record for the month, which I looked up, is 7.58 inches.  We may well set a new record.  I mention this because weather, like almost nothing else, can provide inspiration or despair.  It’s a topic of small talk anywhere one goes.  And one additional point in Flagstaff, where we are in the middle of a large ponderosa pine forest, is that the rainy season follows the fire season.  This year a 15000 acre fire north of town, in the mountains, has left a scarred area which has led to landslides and flooding in a subdivision just north and east of town.  I know it might be easy to say we should just live in areas which aren’t prone to flooding, but that is a simplistic view.  I will write about this in future posts.