The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer:
I love Tucson’s exuberant meteorologists.“Another record-breaking triple-digit day! That’s another one for the books!”
Thanks to our record-breaking temps we have no books. According to Ray Bradbury books burn at 451° Fahrenheit, and we hit 457° at Tucson International around noon, before chilling down to a nippy 422° at sunset. That’s another one for the record books that are a pile of smoldering ash.
I’m beginning to detect a pattern.
I have no faith this summer, our umpteenth record-breaking summer in a record-breaking row, will actually end.
“Umpteenth” is a unit of measure devised by my mother to describe the incalculable number of times I was in trouble, measuring somewhere between a gazillion and infinity.
We’re in trouble a gazillion times over. And we don’t have an infinite amount of time to deal with it. Tucson is record-breaking its way into becoming Tatooine with saguaros. Eventually our City Council will have to give up on the silly idea of winter and resolve to go with 365 days a year of summer.
“Is it fall?” visitors will ask.
“We don’t have fall anymore. Just summer. Our four seasons are summer, summer, summer and summer. Sometimes, between summer and summer we get a fifth season. Fire.”
“This October check out our corn maze wildfires. And December? City sidewalks, scorching sidewalks. Ever build a snowman out of sand? Stay for our Sandy Claus parade.”
H.L. Mencken observed Tucson’s the place where summer spends the winter and Hell spends the summer. This summer Hell overstayed its visit, torched the Catalinas, banished the monsoons scorched our valley, drank all of my Gatorade and cremated all of our climate deniers.
In spite of the fact Hell is planting its hooves here I am inspired by the residents of plucky Sierra Vista, who, undaunted, dare to dream of a bright future. The fine folks who once dreamt of sucking the San Pedro River dry, now dream of making their humble strip mall on steroids the “Hummingbird Capitol of the World” and I’m humming their tune.
Being the “Hummingbird Capitol of the World”will be a boon to birders, and to Sierra Vista’s entrepreneurs, residents and plucky house cats.
Think big. Host the “National Hummingbird Rodeo Finals,” which would highlight the lesser known sports of netting, wrangling, branding and banding hummers. To participate rodeo riders must weigh less than 12 ounces and measure less than 2 inches in height. Many of Arizona’s legislators are sufficiently lightweight and insignificant in stature to qualify.
I see a “Nectar Fest” in Sierra Vista’s future, featuring music by “The Hootchy Kootchy Ruby-Throats” of Huachuca City, a cappella humming by the “Peeps,” a migratory barbershop quartet from Willcox, and of course, a “Nectar” drinking contest requiring 6-foot straws and nectar made with mystery ingredients acquired from a still in the Huachuca Mountains.
Hummingbird fever will change Sierra Vista. Picture the headline! “Millions of Birders Descend on Sierra Vista, Spending Nest Eggs.”
Rest assured residents will cheerfully adapt to being shushed by visiting birders anxious to hear the distinctive call of the broad-billed yapper or the tufted loudmouth.
The nearby tourist trap on I-10, “What in Blazes Izzat?”, will have to add a “Giant Prehistoric Sumatran Hummingbird Mummy” to its tourist snaring collection. “More terrifying than the Pterodactyls of Toltec.”
“Do we want pollinators coming and going here?” asks longtime resident Ruth Jenkins. “I don’t want our children exposed to feral feathered promiscuity.”
“Dutch” Dangolang is equally concerned. “Why are we inviting foreign birds here? Their tiny kind can just keep going. Disease-carrying rapists always flock together. Birds of a feather, right?”
Sierra Vista’s Kazoo and Choir director, Nova Tonic told me they’re involved in the planning of what promises to be a beautiful tradition. “We’ll proudly welcome the black-chinned hummingbirds back to Sierra Vista, every year, by humming ‘Ride of the Valkyries,’ on kazoos, as soon as we spy the flock descending over the Whetstone Mountains. Some Audubon killjoy thought fireworks would discourage the hummingbirds so we canceled that fun idea.”
I’m confident “Nectar Fest” will win over the skeptics, especially if Patagonia’s 102-year old Edwina Ronstadt, the Human Bird Feeder, is the headliner. Edwina feeds hummingbirds by filling her cheeks with “Perky Pet” hummingbird nectar and puckering her lips, painted red with “scarlet honeysuckle” lipstick until she attracts thirsty hummingbirds to savor her nectar. It’s inspiring and disturbing.
Sierra Vista you are a birder’s paradise. I salute you. Let us all celebrate, protect and nurture the tiniest among us by doing the big things.
Like reversing climate change.
Saving our riparian areas.
Repairing the world.
And if it we are going to have summer year-round let’s put those “POSSIBLE ICE ON BRIDGE” signs up on eBay. We can use the money to buy hummingbird feeders. With tiny fans and shade awnings.
David Fitzsimmons: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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