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Quotations about Arizona & Deserts


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Welcome to the Web's first page of quotations about Arizona, my home state, born and raised. Here you will find local writers as well as traveling writers, modern words alongside many quotes from the 1800s and early 1900s when it was a territory and not yet a state. There are also quotes about deserts and hot weather. Enjoy the beauty, humor, heat, and eccentricity that is AZ! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g


Few countries in the world present so marvellous a variety of scenic features as does Arizona.... the youngest of the American States, and yet one of the oldest lands of the whole continent.... What a wonderland of wild cactus growth, of solitude, of mystery, of silence it is!... Miles and miles of such weary, cactus-strewn, alkali solitude... ~George Wharton James, Arizona, the Wonderland, 1917


Well, the trip from then on across Arizona and east of Los Angeles was just one Oasis after another. You can just throw anything out and it will grow there. I like Arizona. ~Will Rogers


Desert rains are usually so definitely demarked that the story of the man who washed his hands in the edge of an Arizona thunder shower without wetting his cuffs seems almost credible. ~Administration in the State of Arizona, U.S. public relief program, 1935–1943


You know you're an Arizona native when you take rain dances seriously. ~Skip Boyer, quoted in You Know You're an Arizona Native, When… compiled by Don Dedera, 1993


Arizona is young and daring. She is not tied to precedent, to convention, to other states' ways of doing things.... She is bent on making her own ways, and in her own way. Her mistakes will be her own, and her triumphs likewise. ~George Wharton James, Arizona, the Wonderland, 1917


Arizona looks like a battle on Mars. ~Author unknown


The water that came last winter is long gone. "Female rain," it's called in Navajo: the gentle, furtive rains that fall from overcast skies between November and March.... What we're waiting for now is male rain. Big, booming, wait-till-your-father-gets-home cloudbursts that bully up from Mexico and threaten to rip the sky. ~Barbara Kingsolver, "Making Peace"  #monsoon


A three-inch rain in Phoenix means three inches between drops. ~Local saying


Welcome to Arizona, where summer spends the winter — and hell spends the summer. ~Popular saying, modified from a booster slogan in the 1930s


Fort Yuma is probably the hottest place on earth. The thermometer stays at one hundred and twenty in the shade there all the time—except when it varies and goes higher. It is a U.S. military post, and its occupants get so used to the terrific heat that they suffer without it. There is a tradition... that a very, very wicked soldier died there, once, and of course, went straight to the hottest corner of perdition,—and the next day he telegraphed back for his blankets. ~George Derby, quoted in Mark Twain, Roughing It, 1872


You know you're an Arizona native when you think Taco Bell is the local phone company. ~Emma Louise Philabaum, quoted in You Know You're an Arizona Native, When… compiled by Don Dedera, 1993


 
 
The Grand Canyon is carven deep by the master hand; it is the gulf of silence, widened in the desert; it is all time inscribing the naked rock; it is the book of earth. ~Donald Culross Peattie, The Road of a Naturalist, 1941


Arizona's vale of mountain-temples... ~Robert Haven Schauffler, Romantic America, 1913


You know you're an Arizona native when a rainy day puts you in a good mood. ~Marshall Trimble, quoted in You Know You're an Arizona Native, When… compiled by Don Dedera, 1993


I'll take heat rash over frost bite any day. ~Ken Travous


I am enamored with desert dew because it's usually the closest thing we get to rain. ~Terri Guillemets


You know you're from Arizona when you drive two miles around a parking lot looking for a shady place — even in the dead of winter. ~Local saying


My favorite color... the seam of a desert horizon. ~Eileen Tabios


...the royalty of the Arizona pageant of hues... ~Robert Haven Schauffler, Romantic America, 1913


[N]orthern Arizona.... surrounded by a fragrant piney forest under a peaceful turquoise sky.... what a perfect retreat, he thought, from the pace and pressure of modern living. ~Paul Harvey, "The Ghost and Don Dedera," December 1972


Once, it was so damned dry, the bushes followed the dogs around. ~Nancy Dedera


In Phoenix summer is
the title, the refrain,
And every other verse.
~Terri Guillemets


...letting the desert scratch its own thorny poetry on the enormous moon. ~Douglas Woolf, Wall to Wall


In the empire of desert, water is the king and shadow is the queen. ~Mehmet Murat ildan


You know you're an Arizona native when you run to the window just to watch a dust storm. ~Marshall Trimble, quoted in You Know You're an Arizona Native, When… compiled by Don Dedera, 1993


I leaped quickly through the opening into the starlight of a clear Arizona night. The crisp, fresh mountain air outside the cave acted as an immediate tonic and I felt new life and new courage coursing through me.... I lifted my head to fill my lungs with the pure, invigorating night air of the mountains. As I did so I saw stretching far below me the beautiful vista of rocky gorge, and level, cacti-studded flat, wrought by the moonlight into a miracle of soft splendor and wondrous enchantment. Few western wonders are more inspiring than the beauties of an Arizona moonlit landscape; the silvered mountains in the distance, the strange lights and shadows upon hog back and arroyo, and the grotesque details of the stiff, yet beautiful cacti form a picture at once enchanting and inspiring; as though one were catching for the first time a glimpse of some dead and forgotten world, so different is it from the aspect of any other spot upon our earth. ~Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars, 1917


One person's picture postcard is someone else's normal. This was the landscape whose every face we knew: giant saguaro cacti, coyotes, mountains, the wicked sun reflecting off bare gravel. ~Barbara Kingsolver, "Called Home," Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, 2007


Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. ~George F. Will


You know you're from Arizona when you feed your chickens ice cubes to keep them from laying hard-boiled eggs. ~Local saying


[T]he great desert of Arizona... quivering in the heat of the southern sun. ~Mark Daniels, "Mesa Verde and Casa Grande National Parks," American Forestry, March 1916


In Arizona, shade trees are your best friends... and occasionally the basis of small civil wars over parking. ~Terri Guillemets


I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


Having spent the night and morning drenched in transfixing beauty, neither of us could stomach the thought of erecting our tent in the campground, so we gassed up and headed for more remote desert.... Nothing stood between us and the vibrant desert. Staring at the unlimited space fanned out before me, I felt magnified and ethereal, yet grounded.... I'd forgotten how enlivening it could feel, seeing clearly and far. Aridity frees light. It also unleashes grandeur.... Desert beauty was "sublime" in the way that the romantic poets had used the word—not peaceful dales but rugged mountain faces, not reassuring but daunting nature, the earth's skin and haunches, its spines and angles arching prehistorically in sunlight. ~Julene Bair, The Ogallala Road: A Memoir of Love and Reckoning, 2014


Arizona... a land where a good spring is far better than a gold mine... ~E.E.A. from Ohio, "Some Notes of a Trip to California," Success with Flowers, February 1898  ['Spring' meaning water, not the season. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


I live in the dry dusty desert
Where we're always short on water
And even if the sun fell upon us
It couldn't get any hotter.
~Terri Guillemets


You know you live in Phoenix when the cold-water faucet is hotter than the hot-water faucet. ~Local saying


It's so hot even my fake plants are wilting. ~Terri Guillemets


You know you live in Phoenix when the four seasons are: tolerable, hot, really hot, and are you freakin' kidding me?! ~Author unknown


[W]aiting for the end of the drought becomes an obsession. It's literally 110 degrees in the shade today, the kind of weather real southwesterners love to talk about. We have our own kind of Jack London thing, in reverse: Remember that year (swagger, thumbs in belt) when it was 122 degrees and planes couldn't land at the airport?... We revel in our misery only because we know the end, when it comes, is so good. One day there will be a crackling, clean, creosote smell in the air and the ground will be charged and the hair on your arms will stand on end and then BOOM, you are thrillingly drenched. ~Barbara Kingsolver, "Making Peace"  [Ah, yes, the 122º Phoenix day, June 26th 1990. We all remember where we were! It actually only hit 117º that day in Tucson, still their record high. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]  #monsoon


You know you live in Phoenix when you can drive two hours in any one direction and never leave the Valley. ~Author unknown


Land of extremes. Land of contrasts. Land of surprises. Land of contradictions.... That is Arizona. ~Federal Writers Project, Arizona: The Grand Canyon State, 1956


What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Water, water, water… There is no shortage of water in the desert but exactly the right amount, a perfect ratio of water to rock, of water to sand, insuring that wide, free, open, generous spacing among plants and animals, homes and towns and cities, which makes the arid West so different from any other part of the nation. There is no lack of water here, unless you try to establish a city where no city should be. ~Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire


For Phœnix is not merely well supplied with water; she is extravagantly supplied, since she joined forces with Uncle Sam's practical scientists, who, guided years ago by that greatest of America's practical geniuses, Major John Wesley Powell, arrested the melted snow-waters of the peaks of Central Arizona, and stored them for man's use. ~George Wharton James, Arizona, the Wonderland, 1917


...the sweet, sun-purified, sun-vivified air of the desert... ~George Wharton James, Arizona, the Wonderland, 1917


The morning... was, like nearly all Arizona mornings, clear and beautiful... ~Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars, 1917


It was now morning, and, with the customary lack of dawn which is a startling characteristic of Arizona, it had become daylight almost without warning. ~Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars, 1917


Here, one sees the Painted Desert with its fantastic coloring, the petrified forests, deep lateral cañons, the great Cohonino Forest, through which one may ride for five days without finding a drop of water except during the rainy season. Truly, it is a wonderland, and in the Grand Cañon one can think of nothing but the Abomination of Desolation. There is no place in the world at present so accessible, and at the same time so full of the most romantic interest, as are the territories of Arizona and New Mexico. ~John G. Bourke, On the Border with Crook, 1891  [A little altered. Description is from 1874 travels, when it was the Arizona Territory. G.W. James paraphrases Bourke: "Arizona is the Wonderland of the Southwest." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Each season of adventure reality television gets more and more challenging. I'm waiting for them to come out with a Survivor: Phoenix in July edition. ~Terri Guillemets, 2006


One hundred sixteen degrees…I live in the Sun Belt.... To spell it out for you, I haven't been able to cross my legs at the knee since the last of May.... If any of you has an ounce of charity for your fellow person, you will indulge me while I share with you an Arizona summer. It's where a woman puts on a pair of oven mitts so she can touch her steering wheel.... Where deodorant ads are considered fiction. Where you cultivate fat friends so you'll always be around shade. ~Erma Bombeck, "An Arizona Summer" (At Wit's End column), July 1979


When the East and Midwest are suffering through the brutal winters, no one is interested that we are having good weather. It's depressing and considered bad taste to talk about it. When we are suffering through agonizing heat waves and droughts, no one cares. During the snowstorms last year in the East our papers were filled with stories of sacrifice, hardship, and devastation. During our summer, we get an occasional page-one picture of a blonde with three ounces of clothing on her back... frying an egg on the sidewalk. ~Erma Bombeck, "An Arizona Summer" (At Wit's End column), July 1979


It's the Southwest.... Where nature rubs belly to belly with subdivision and barrio. ~Barbara Kingsolver, "Making Peace"


Tell me: have you ever seen stars in a more black-velvety sky, or seen them so large, vivid and intense? Was ever mountain coloring more tender, soft, alluring than at dawn, or more richly radiant than at sunset? ~George Wharton James, Arizona, the Wonderland, 1917  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


In Arizona we salt margaritas, not sidewalks. ~Author unknown


The Grand Canyon is too grand for a steady diet. It is so overwhelmingly impressive that you can not continue indefinitely on that exalted emotional level. In the parlance of the connoisseur of paintings, the Canyon is a "museum-piece." Let the beauty-lover beware of going anywhere else on earth! For the Zambesi, the Yellowstone, the fjords of Norway, Switzerland, the Rocky Mountains will by comparison all seem tame and colorless. There is only one way by which he can avoid a jarring anti-climax. That is to lay in a proper supply of oxygen and condensed foods and take airship for a tour of the chief Martian winter resorts. Yes, and there is one alternative: Let him take armchair for those wonderlands of the human imagination which alone are more sublimely fair than the irised mountain range that God inverted in the heart of Arizona. ~Robert Haven Schauffler, Romantic America, 1913  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


The desert tells a different story every time one ventures on it. ~Robert Edison Fulton, Jr.


Let us hover over the bad lands of the Painted Desert, El Desierto Pintado. Here and there and everywhere, are patches of red, green, blue, yellow, madder, lake, orange, green, violet, pink and every color known to man. It is as if this was the place where divine thoughts were tested for man's benefit, and then the pallet-board was left for man to see, to wonder at and revere. ~George Wharton James, Arizona, the Wonderland, 1917  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Arizona and New Mexico, they are similar In lots of respects. They have great climates, almost any kind you like. They are both States that kinder wear well on you. Don't just look out of the train and condemn 'em. It just looks like nothing couldent live by looking out of a sleeper window. ~Will Rogers, weekly article, 1933 January 1st  [slightly altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


I like Jackrabbit as a place, but especially as a name. Town names in Arizona have a realistic ring to them, probably because they were settled by realistic people. Oh, there are towns called Carefree and Friendly Corner and Eden in Arizona, even Inspiration and Paradise. And, of course, Phoenix. Chamber of Commerce names. But most of those old settlers told it like it was, rough and rocky. They named their towns Rimrock, Rough Rock, Round Rock, and Wide Ruins, Skull Valley, Bitter Springs, Wolf Hole, Tombstone. It's a tough country. The names of Arizona towns tell you all you need to know. ~Charles Kuralt, Dateline America, 1979


He wanted to know what I missed from home.... I tried to describe impossible things like the scent of creosote — bitter, slightly resinous, but still pleasant — the high, keening sound of the cicadas in July, the feathery barrenness of the trees, the very size of the sky, extending white-blue from horizon to horizon, barely interrupted by the low mountains covered with purple volcanic rock. The hardest thing to explain was why it was so beautiful to me — to justify a beauty that didn't depend on the sparse, spiny vegetation that often looked half dead, a beauty that had more to do with the exposed shape of the lane, with the shallow bowls of valleys between the craggy hills, and the way they held on to the sun. ~Stephenie Meyer, Twilight


You know you're an Arizona native when you "hug" a cactus only once in your lifetime. ~Nancy Dedera, quoted in You Know You're an Arizona Native, When… compiled by Don Dedera, 1993


A subtle but palpable feeling surrounded the three of us, like the scent of creosote and cactus flowers hanging heavy in the air after a long-awaited desert shower. ~Linda Kohanov, "Does the Horse Have a Buddha Nature?", Riding Between the Worlds: Expanding Our Potential through the Way of the Horse, 2003


[A] tumble from the rocks would probably land us in a cactus—and anyone who's ever tried to tangle with a teddy bear cactus knows there's a whole lot more bear than teddy to it. ~Kevin Hearne, Hounded, 2011


The windmills stare at the sun.
      The yellow earth cracks and blisters.
      Everything is still.
In the afternoon
      The wind takes dry waves of heat and tosses them,
      Mingled with dust, up and down the streets...
~John Gould Fletcher (1886–1950), "The Windmills" (Arizona Poems), 1915


You are between vast walls, that rise a quarter of a mile or less apart, made of brilliant red sandstone, the walls reaching up to the very stars.... A thousand, two thousand, feet high, the walls surely must be. Wonderful. Awe-inspiring. Majestic. You see a Navaho camp-fire and dancers; the song you hear is a death chant, sung to aid the spirit on its long journey to the other world beyond. You are in the Canyon de Chelly, the home of the ancient Cliff-Dwellers and also of the present-day Navahos. ~George Wharton James, Arizona, the Wonderland, 1917  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


You know you live in Phoenix when you are willing to park three blocks away because you actually found shade from a palm tree imported 300 miles from California and nurtured with water piped 250 miles from Nevada. ~Author unknown


And the sunshine, too, of Arizona is equal to the atmosphere. It is direct, positive, unadulterated. The clarity of the air allows it to reach man and the earth just as it was divinely intended it should, and the result is it brings healing, strength and power on its wings. Pure air, pure atmosphere, pure and unadulterated, unrestrained sunshine bless every inhabitant, making the strong stronger, and bringing new hope, new brightness, new life to the weak and ailing. ~George Wharton James, Arizona, the Wonderland, 1917


These lands are too parched,
Please rain-bless our hearts!
~Terri Guillemets


He'd always had a quickening of the heart when he crossed into Arizona and beheld the cactus country. This was as the desert should be, this was the desert of the picture books, with the land unrolled to the farthest distant horizon hills, with saguaro standing sentinel in their strange chessboard pattern, towering supinely above the fans of ocotillo and brushy mesquite. Because there had been some winter rain, the desert was in bloom. The saguaro wore creamy crowns on their tall heads, the ocotillo spikes were tipped with vermilion, and the brush bloomed yellow as forsythia. ~Dorothy Belle Hughes (1904-1993), The Expendable Man


"Desert?"
"Sand," Ragen explained. "Nothing but sand for miles in every direction. No food nor water but what you carry, and nothing to shade you from the scorching sun."
"And people live there?" Arlen asked.
"Oh, yes," Ragen said.
~Peter V. Brett, The Warded Man, 2009


Desert springtime, with flowers popping up all over the place, trees leafing out, streams gushing down from the mountains. Great time of year for hiking, camping, exploring, sleeping under the new moon and the old stars. At dawn and at evening we hear the coyotes howling with excitement—mating season. ~Edward Abbey, Postcards from Ed: Dispatches and Salvos from an American Iconoclast


Follow Terri Guillemets' board Arizona on Pinterest.


What ideal, immutable Platonic cloud could equal the beauty and perfection of any ordinary everyday cloud floating over, say, Tuba City, Arizona, on a hot day in June? ~Edward Abbey


Santa Cruz County... Climatically the region is one of the highly favored districts for which Arizona has already become world famed. One neither roasts, fries, bakes, or frizzles in summer nor freezes, crystallizes, or solidifies in winter. ~George Wharton James, Arizona, the Wonderland, 1917


[T]he University of Arizona, a very fine school, well liked and spoken of by everybody that knows about it. ~Will Rogers (1879–1935)  [Go Wildcats! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


God takes everyone he loves through a desert. It is his cure for our wandering hearts, restlessly searching for a new Eden. ~Paul E. Miller


And how hot it is! It seems a veritable Sahara, for it is midsummer, and the heat rises from this vast plateau as from a fiery furnace. ~George Wharton James, Arizona, the Wonderland, 1917


Winter in 'Zona is spring
Springtime is summer
Summer is torturous hellfire
Autumn is Summer Part II
~Terri Guillemets


But there is still too much to see and marvel at, the world very much alive in the bright light and wind, exultant with the fever of spring, the delight of morning. Strolling on, it seems to me that the strangeness and wonder of existence are emphasized here, in the desert, by the comparative sparsity of the flora and fauna: life not crowded upon life as in other places but scattered abroad in spareness simplicity, with a generous gift of space for each herb and bush and tree, each stem of grass, so that the living organism stands out bold and brave and vivid against the lifeless sand and barren rock. ~Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness


Governor Glasscock of West Virginia, while traveling through Arizona, noticed the dry, dusty appearance of the country. "Doesn't it ever rain around here?" he asked one of the natives. "Rain?" The native spat. "Rain? Why, say, pardner, there's bullfrogs in this yere town over five years old that hain't learned to swim yet." ~Everybody's Magazine, "Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree," November 1909


The Developers.... They cannot see that growth for the sake of growth is a cancerous madness, that Phoenix and Albuquerque will not be better cities to live in when their populations are doubled again and again. They would never understand that an economic system which can only expand or expire must be false to all that is human.... Time and the winds will sooner or later bury the Seven Cities of Cibola—Phoenix, Tucson, Albuquerque, all of them—under dunes of glowing sand... ~Edward Abbey, "Water," Desert Solitaire, 1968


The desert is a place of bones, where the innards are turned out, to desiccate into dust. ~Vera Nazarian


And the Grand Canyon—well, I just don't want to hurt their feelings talking about it. No, sir, Europe has nothing to recommend it but its old age, and the Petrified forest in Arizona makes a Sucker out of it for old age. Why, that forest was there and doing business before Nero took his first Violin lesson. ~Will Rogers


The extent and magnitude of the system of cañons is astounding. The plateau is cut into shreds by these gigantic chasms, and resembles a vast ruin. Belts of country, miles in width, have been swept away, leaving only isolated mountains standing in the gap—fissures, so profound that the eye cannot penetrate their depths, are separated by walls whose thickness one can almost span, and slender spires, that seem to be tottering upon their base, shoot up a thousand feet from vaults below.... The region is, of course, altogether valueless. It can be approached only from the south, and after entering it there is nothing to do but leave. Ours has been the first, and will doubtless be the last, party of whites to visit this profitless locality. It seems intended by nature that the Colorado river, along the greater portion of its lonely and majestic way, shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed. ~Joseph Christmas Ives, Report upon the Colorado River of the West; Explored in 1857 and 1858  [Grand Canyon prophecy fail —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


June is the cruelest month in Tucson.... Every plant looks pitiful and, when you walk past it, moans a little, envious because you can walk yourself to a drink and it can't.... In June there is no vital sign, not so much as a humid breath against a pane of glass, till the summer storms arrive. ~Barbara Kingsolver, "Making Peace"  #monsoon


She is young and beautiful—my country—
Mother of many children.
She is free...
She rose and walked like the sun into the west...
Onward, outward—
Past rivers like a sea,
And mountains that snowily, secretly, kiss the moon—
Out to shining Arizona athirst in the sun
And Oregon shaggy with firs by her northern ocean,
Whom the silver Sierras link together forever...
~Harriet Monroe, "America," in Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, December 1918  [Note: The 'She is free' line wasn't added until 1920, so the attribution here isn't perfectly accurate to this wording but it does indicate the original publication date of the poem. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


I would enter the desert alone, to leave in the sand endless footprints only to be obliterated by the wind, to walk the same path each day expecting the same path tomorrow, and perhaps to cease wondering at the bloom and wither of lilies only to linger for death. But no, even in the desert, I would seek a new sanctuary, to contemplate a grain of sand in a sea of dryness. ~Leonard Seet


[T]here are miles and miles of land purely desert, and clothed only with thorny cacti and others of that ilk. ~John G. Bourke, On the Border with Crook, 1891


My ENORMOUS thanks to… The staff of the Moore's Creek Bridge battlefield Visitors' Center... for explaining to me what an ice-storm is, because they had just had one. We do not have ice-storms in Arizona. ~Diana Gabaldon, "Acknowledgments," A Breath of Snow and Ashes, 2005


She left in August after the last rain of the season. Summer storms in the desert are violent things, and clean, they leave you feeling like you have cried. ~Barbara Kingsolver, "Hallie's Bones," Animal Dreams, 1990  #monsoon


The sun is rolling slowly
      Beneath the sluggish folds of sky-serpents,
      Coiling, uncoiling, blue black, sparked with fires.
Above the smell of scorching, oozing pinyon,
      The acrid smell of rain.
And now the showers
      Surround the mesa like a troop of silver dancers:
      Shaking their rattles, stamping, chanting, roaring...
~John Gould Fletcher (1886–1950), "Rain in the Desert" (Arizona Poems), 1915  #monsoons


You know you're an Arizona native when you have to look up "mass transit" in the dictionary. ~Paul Johnson, quoted in You Know You're an Arizona Native, When… compiled by Don Dedera, 1993


You know that Arizona is going to really be understood and get somewhere some day. ~Will Rogers  [Ummm, no comment. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


The best gift of the desert is God's presence. ~Paul E. Miller


A hundred ten in the shade is sorta hot, but you don't have to shovel it off your driveway. ~Author unknown


They climbed into the high country of Arizona, and through a gap they looked down on the Painted Desert.... They crawled up the slopes, and the twisted trees covered the slopes. Holbrook, Joseph City, Winslow. And then the tall trees began, Flagstaff, and that was the top of it all. Down from Flagstaff over the great plateaus.... The water grew scarce.... The sun drained the dry rocky country, and ahead were jagged broken peaks, the western wall of Arizona. And now they were in flight from the sun and the drought. ~John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939


The desert is quiet,
and it's listening.—
It's thirsty, and
waits patiently.—
A cactus grows
one hundred years
& spares no water.
~Terri Guillemets, "Sparse," 1992


Today's threats of Camelback development, upon which the public chokes, are like gnats compared with the camel to be swallowed tomorrow.... The Chamber of Commerce values an unspoiled Camelback. Surrounding resorts plead for a scenic mountain. Horsemen and climbers want Camelback left alone, and everybody living in sight of it seemingly wants it natural, and all over Arizona are people wishing for preservation.... Just as surely as God sculpted a three-mile-long camel cartoon out of granite and sandstone, man is going to brand its hide.... Unlike its living facsimile, Camelback is dry in the humps. Water will not run up hill.... But what will drastically change the appearance of the old camel, make it look like a zebra or a skunk, are roads.... This, then, is the present and the prediction: An economy and society pressing prices and people upward. ~Donald Everett Dedera (b.1929), "Phoenix Upmanship: Camelback's Tops," in The Arizona Republic, 1963 May 1st


In the desert, I had discovered the West of my imagination, my childhood canyon infinitely magnified. I went there for inspiration and insight. ~Julene Bair, The Ogallala Road: A Memoir of Love and Reckoning, 2014


It was the farthest she had ever been from home, not only in miles but in feeling. The vastness of the desert frightened her. Everything looked too far away, even the cloudless sky. There was nowhere you could hide in such emptiness. ~James Carlos Blake, The Rules of Wolfe: A Border Noir, 2013


Arizona is still an agricultural state. Even after the population boom of the mid-nineties, 85 percent of the state's water still went to thirsty crops like cotton, alfalfa, citrus, and pecan trees. Mild winters offer the opportunity to create an artificial endless summer, as long as we can conjure up water and sustain a chemically induced illusion of topsoil.... Living in Arizona on borrowed water made me nervous.... But these gardens of ours had a drinking problem. So did Arizona farms. ~Barbara Kingsolver, "Called Home," Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, 2007


They must've abbreviated us AZ because we have the entire spectrum of weather extremes: "A"blaze in the Phoenix sun to "Z"ero-degree snow in Flagg. ~Terri Guillemets, "Arizona Alphabet," 1989


Flagstaff... situated in the grand pine forests of Arizona. The beautiful scenery from this point at sunset, snow-capped mountains whose sides are all clothed in tall pines upward of one hundred feet high, and the soft light of the setting sun in the distance, form a view which must be seen to be appreciated. ~E.E.A. from Ohio, "Some Notes of a Trip to California," Success with Flowers, February 1898


You cannot blame the Sahara alone for the troubles. But you should also not see the desert simply as some faraway place of little rain. There are many forms of thirst. ~William Langewiesche, Sahara Unveiled: A Journey Across the Desert


Even better than the low god density in Arizona is the near total absence of faeries. I don't mean those cute winged creatures that Disney calls "fairies"; I mean the Fae, the Sidhe... each one of them as likely to gut you as hug you.... They have all sorts of gateways to earth in the Old World, but in the New World they need oak, ash, and thorn to make the journey, and those trees don't grow together too often in Arizona. I have found a couple of likely places, like the White Mountains near the border with New Mexico and a riparian area near Tucson, but those are both over a hundred miles away from my well-paved neighborhood near the university in Tempe. I figured the chances of the Fae entering the world there and then crossing a treeless desert to look for a rogue Druid were extremely small... ~Kevin Hearne, Hounded, 2011


[T]he dark and jagged ramparts of Arizona stood up against the sky, and behind them the huge tilted plain rising toward the backbone of the continent again. ~John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley, 1962


If it crosses your mind that water running through hundreds of miles of open ditch in a desert will evaporate and end up full of concentrated salts and muck, then let me just tell you, that kind of negative thinking will never get you elected to public office in the state of Arizona. When this giant new tap turned on, developers drew up plans to roll pink stucco subdivisions across the desert in all directions. ~Barbara Kingsolver, "Called Home," Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, 2007


When the ancient myth-maker conjured out of the depths of his vivid imagination the story of the phœnix, classic bird of the ancients prior even to his time, that it had the power inherently within itself to rise from its own funeral pyre, he little dreamed he was preparing a name for the Capital City of the last great State of the American United States. Unlike Tucson and Prescott, she was not born in the early days of strife, race-conflict, and the thrill of newly-discovered great mines. She is a sister of the later day. The first comers who roamed over the valley of the Rio Salado of the Spaniards, soon found scattered here and there the remains of a prehistoric people. Great irrigation canal systems led from village to village, and clearly indicated that a prehistoric race long before had seen and utilized the agricultural advantages of this highly favored region. So, when the settlers came together and decided to start a city, one of them, an Englishman familiar with his classics, suggested that as the new city of the new civilization was to rise on the ruins, the ashes, of a former civilization, he deemed Phœnix an excellent name. ~George Wharton James, Arizona, the Wonderland, 1917


The Colorado desert, with the exception of some fifty miles, is a mass of light clay, which, when dry, rises in the finest form of dust, and yet supports a peculiar vegetation of the mesquite tree, which is a low feathery acacia with large spreading roots. This shrub covers scores and hundreds of miles almost exclusively, where there is no grass, no other flowers, but everywhere this mesquite. It would be a pleasing shrub if not associated with such disagreeable remembrances of dust for days together. ~W. Tallack, "The California Overland Route," 1860


[A] mesquite, that strange desert tree that gives shade, shelter, firewood, flour, sugar and horse-feed to the desert aborigine... ~George Wharton James, Arizona, the Wonderland, 1917


We halted beneath a mesquite-tree and bore away an armful of pods that horses, mules, and Indians love. They are several inches long, in clusters, bright buff changing from green, and filled generously with beans which rattle as they mature. ~Estelle Thomson, "An Autumn Drive in California," 1892


...that accursed mesquite-tree... ~Louise Palmer Heaven, Chata and Chinita, 1889  [Accursed in the book because Don Juan had been found murdered under said tree. Accursed in modern-day Arizona because they litter their tiny leaves and shattering yellow catkins and rotting pods everywhere! If only we'd all go back to using the trees' gifts as food and medicine it might be 'that blessed mesquite-tree.' —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Located just north of the Phoenix Zoo, Papago Park is an odd formation of isolated hills surrounded by teddy bear cholla, creosote, and saguaro. The hills are steep red rock and riddled with holes, fifteen-million-year-old remnants of ancient mudflows that petrified and eroded over the ages. ~Kevin Hearne, Hounded, 2011


What are the just deserts for a species too selfish or preoccupied to hope for rain when the land outside is dying? Should we be buried under the topsoil in our own clean cars, to make room for wiser creatures? ~Barbara Kingsolver, "Called Home," Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, 2007


At times we would march for miles through a country in which grew only the white-plumed yucca with trembling, serrated leaves; again, mescal would fill the hillside so thickly that one could almost imagine that it had been planted purposely; or we passed along between masses of the dust-laden, ghostly sage-brush, or close to the foul-smelling joints of the "hediondilla." The floral wealth of Arizona astonished us the moment we had gained the higher elevations of the Mogollon and the other ranges.... The flowers of Arizona are delightful in color, but they yield no perfume, probably on account of the great dryness of the atmosphere. ~John G. Bourke, On the Border with Crook, 1891


For the dews adown the night-winds drifted
      Mingle with the brown and sterile earth,
      And, by some miraculous urgance gifted,
      Bring this marvelment of bloom to birth.
Briefly lift these flowers their fragile faces,
      For when dowers the vale the blaze of day,
      As ephemeral as frost's filmy laces,
      Into nothingness they fade away.
Spreads afar once more the desert glooming,
      Like a shore with desolation rife;—
      Aye, and who has not beheld them blooming,—
      These dew-flowers upon the wastes of life!
~Clinton Scollard, "The Dew-Flowers," Dixie, August 1899  [Death Valley —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]


Tucson had opened my eyes to the world and given me... a taste for the sensory extravagance of red hot chiles and five-alarm sunsets. ~Barbara Kingsolver, "Called Home," Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, 2007


The devil plays a dry, scorching tune and its name is Arizona Summer. ~Terri Guillemets


      [T]he Morrigan replied. "A mortal doom gathers about you here, and you must fly if you wish to avoid it."
      "...If it isn't Thor coming to get me, it's one of the Olympians. Remember that story last year? Apollo was offended by my association with the Arizona State Sun Devils.... So he was coming in his golden chariot to shoot me full of arrows.... The Greek deity of the sun being offended by an old Druid's tenuous relationship with a college mascot on the other side of the globe..."
      ~Kevin Hearne, Hounded, 2011


"Heat, ma'am!" I said; "it was so dreadful here, that I found there was nothing left for it but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones." ~Sydney Smith, Lady Holland’s Memoir


What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance. ~Jane Austen


But it's a dry heat… ~Arizona saying



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