Winter in the desert is brown.
It is eight days before Christmas. There has been no snow in the Valley of Hell, nor will there be any - and rain in the winter is no more common here than rain in the summer. The grass is a perpetual brown - brown like the homes, and businesses, and even the Wal-Marts.
The temperature reaches highs in the seventies most days. According to the "meteorologists" who give the local weather reports, there is a layer of warm air up high that is holding all of this cool air down close to the ground. That warm air is also holding in a layer of air pollution whose smell seems to always be with us. It is a faint, but irritating, odor that puts one in mind of trash that has been burned out-of-doors - perhaps yesterday.
The palm trees look neglected and ragged, and the combination of desert dryness and air tinged with pollution is taking a toll on some of the large cacti and other outdoor plants. The old people standing in long lines to buy liquor also look ragged.
The brown covers the ground like a limitless Army blanket or mover's tarp. It extends, uninterrupted, in every direction for as far at the eye can see. The only breaks in the brown monotony of the desert in winter are the green golf courses which are kept well watered to pamper our doctors and tourists - and Scottsdale.
Residents of the Valley, particularly the "snow birds" who are here only for the winter months, love to hear stories about snowstorms in other parts of the country. They all have their own personal tales about great blizzards that they have experienced, and most are quick to comment that the best part of living in this area is that they no longer have to shovel snow from their driveways.
And they don't. Here they can spend their winters sitting on their brown lawn furniture in the brown backyards, inhaling brown air, and drinking their brown liquor. When the alcohol runs low, they pile into their brown golf carts and head out to a brown Wal-Mart for more.
Can you blame me for dreaming of a white Christmas?