Two Worlds

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There is no shortage of visual drama in my new home state.

In the summer of 2018, and on numerous occasions since, as my husband and I wound our way north on Interstate 17—driving from Phoenix towards Flagstaff to escape the heat for a few days and eventually gasp at the sight of the Grand Canyon—the elevation climbed steadily.

The terrain suddenly shifted near a town called Bumble Bee. The stately saguaro cacti vanished. We left behind the Sonoran Desert and August’s triple-digit temperatures.

Within an hour, we found ourselves in a second world: a parallel, complementary universe of slender Ponderosa pine trees and cooler temperatures.

For many native Arizonans, I imagine this geographic dichotomy—desert heat and mountain retreat—feels customary. But not for this native Midwesterner; I lived and worked in the relatively flatness of the Illinois prairie for most of my life.

Having two rugged worlds at my immediate disposal is akin to savoring a scoop of each of my favorite ice creams (chocolate chip and mint chocolate chip), which I don’t allow myself to consume anymore.

Fortunately, breathtaking scenery—like this image from the south rim of the Grand Canyon—includes no saturated fat or cholesterol. I’ll have another scoop please.