Discovering the Cracks of Imperfection in My Suburban Desert

How an Arizona Native Stopped Dreaming of Snow and Winding Rivers

The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert, Arizona, where I grew up, is a water recycling facility disguised as an ecological habitat. It is a diverse biome where water meets land. The city treats wastewater and funnels it into the preserve’s ponds, where it slowly filters back into the aquifer. Almost 300 species of birds, cottontail rabbits, snakes, red-eared slider turtles, and butterflies also live in the 110-acre park, as well as around its ponds and adjoining lake of reclaimed-water.

The regional library, where I first …

The Melancholy of Moving Back to the Desert

A grown man shouldn’t need to return
to the land of his childhood

tummy-showing and barefoot.

You should live where mountains and water
compliment your dual ascendant, the one

reaching for high mountain …

Phoenix Is a Survivor

This City in the Sonoran Desert Is an Old Hand at Grappling with Its Thirst for Water and Electricity

The fact that people question Phoenix’s existence has been good for the city. That was the headline lesson from Tuesday night’s Zócalo/ASU College of Public Service & Community Solutions event, …

The Lost Savannas of Arizona

Until about 100 Years Ago, Grasses Up to 2 Feet High Blanketed Swaths of the Sonoran Desert

In the Santa Cruz Flats in southern Arizona, the beige of sandy plains, dunes, and clay-filled basins alternate with green swaths of irrigated cotton fields. Save for a rare jackrabbit, …

My Uncle Dale’s California Dream

In the High Desert, He Lived Like a Cowboy, Hauled Sand and Milk, and Kept Our Family Together

I had to go to a family funeral up in Apple Valley, I explained to friends and colleagues, as I canceled a day’s worth of appointments recently. They offered …

My Grandparents’ Strange Desert Home

Welcome to Sun City, A Non-Reality-Based Community

The freeway east out of Los Angeles leads into the suburbs that speckle the Inland Empire, passes through green hills, and eventually swings by the monolithic Morongo Casino. This marks …