Arizona Quotes: Land & Landscape

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

Arizona looks like a battle on Mars. ~Author unknown

Nowhere on this planet is the desert as fascinating as it is in Arizona. ~Joseph Stacey, “The Incomparable Desert,” Arizona Highways, March 1973

Arizona’s vale of mountain-temples… ~Robert Haven Schauffler, Romantic America, 1913

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

It’s the Southwest… Where nature rubs belly to belly with subdivision and barrio. ~Barbara Kingsolver, “Making Peace,” 1996

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 [a little altered –tg]

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, 1968

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

The 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

She noted, too, that the whites and yellows of earth and rock had begun to shade to red — and this she knew meant an approach to Arizona. Arizona, the wild, the lonely, the red desert, the green plateau — Arizona with its thundering rivers, its unknown spaces, its pasture-lands and timber-lands, its wild horses, cowboys, outlaws, wolves and lions and savages! ~Zane Grey, The Man of the Forest, 1920

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

…shining Arizona athirst in the sun… ~Harriet Monroe, “America,” in Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, December 1918

There 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

Sandstorms
Are wild stallions
With silver manes flung high
In triumph, knowing they shall not
Be tamed.
~Lenore McLaughlin Link, “Sandstorms,” in Arizona Highways, August 1968

“It’s only a desert!” Yes, I know.
But then, the dear God made it so,
And since His work is always good
He must have loved it, else how could
He scatter flowers far and near,
Or keep trees green thruout the year?
He must have loved these mighty rocks
That came thru fire and earthquake shocks,
The mountains and the little hills,
The murmur of the dwindling rills;
He must have loved the deep blue sky,
The glistening cloud-bands floating by,
The gorgeous splendor, when the day
Is passing on its westward way.
~Flossie Edna Ritzenthaler Cole Wells (1889–1987), “Coconino Wilderness”

The brittle ground of ancient battle… ~Lester Ward Ruffner, “What Arizona Means To Me?,” in Arizona Highways, November 1971

He was tired of heat, glare, dust, bare rock, and thorny cactus. ~Zane Grey, Tappan’s Burro, 1923

Cactus, mesquite, and greasewood;
Greasewood, cactus, mesquite;
The turquoise blue of the heavens
That the age-worn mountains meet…
~Ida Flood Dodge, “One of Us,” 1920

The aspect of much of the scenery along this gray valley road, bleak, rocky mesa track, lined on either side by volcanic ranges of jagged peaks and serrated slopes, so brown and sere, and with not a growing thing to relieve the barrenness of their sides, is not of a character to be desired for a steady landscape. But it has its own beauty — rare, because it is so different from what one sees elsewhere — and possessing charms that are all its own, unique and captivating. The graceful mesquite and malverde trees grow everywhere, and the numberless varieties of the cactus make the scene still stranger to an unaccustomed vision. ~Richard J. Hinton, “Over Valley and Mesa,” The Hand-Book to Arizona, 1877

Beyond the canyon the cedared desert heaved higher and changed its aspect. The trees grew larger, bushier, greener, and closer together, with patches of bleached grass between, and russet-lichened rocks everywhere. Small cactus plants bristled sparsely in open places; and here and there bright red flowers — Indian paintbrush, Flo called them — added a touch of color to the gray. Glenn pointed to where dark banks of cloud had massed around the mountain peaks. The scene to the west was somber and compelling. ~Zane Grey, The Call of the Canyon, 1924

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

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.” –tg]