Scottsdale is not what it was

I’ve been visiting since my parents retired here when I was in my 20s. The scent of the air, its dryness, the heat, all were so different than cold grey New York. In Manhattan, we took cabs. In Arizona, we took hot air balloons. The flora asserted their exotica. Right down the street from my parents, at McCormick Ranch, was a real ranch with horses friendly enough to come over to the fence and be fed carrots.

When Gil and I got married, our best man, a photographer, brought  us out into the desert for official posed pictures. We went to an empty lot downtown.

There was nothing but sand and tumbleweed for miles, and saguaros that towered over our heads. Carnegiea gigantea. Easterners, we learned that the single columns were the babies among them, and the more arms that poked out of that central stem, the more ancient they were. There were a lot of vintage saguaros out there.

Years went by. We spent our Arizona time with my parents in Sedona, not Scottsdale. When they returned, we returned, to find that you can in fact pave paradise – though a cliché, it’s no exaggeration. Almost all the desert had been developed. Towering corporate buildings, shopping mall after shopping mall. No horses munching behind a fence, they were long gone, whether to pasture or the glue factory, nobody knew. Development had disappeared them.

But still. The air and the heat feel the same. There are fuschia flowers.

Odd saguaro shapes, as high as ever above your head.

Twisted palo verde specimens. Parkinsonia aculeata.

Rosemary hedges.

All of these plants are squeezed along the turf alleys amid winding sidewalks, not “out in the desert” but the embodiment of desert nonetheless. The hot rodders own the 101, transplanted Californians have taken over the parking lots at Whole Foods, gated complexes proliferate.

There is no empty lot where we took our wedding shots. But you can’t kill the desert. It blooms again every spring.


Filed under Jean Zimmerman

2 responses to “Scottsdale is not what it was

  1. Greg Klos

    my lord, how young the two of you appear to be…

  2. trulyjulie

    Hi Jean – you may not remember me but I used to work as the Lifestyle Coordinator at Silverstone, and so enjoyed your parents! I have started seeing your blog come through in my Inbox recently – strange as there was nothing for several years, so you either just started posting again or somehow I am seeing them now?

    After seeing this post about Scottsdale come through, I wanted to reach out and say hello. How are your parents doing, are they still at Silverstone? It’s been since 2014 I believe that I worked there, so it’s been awhile. I hope that they are doing well. If I remember right you live on the east coast, right?

    In 2018 I got married and moved up to Washington State – and now I just got divorced and am moving back. Have missed living in the desert these past three years! Loved reading and seeing your photos. Times have definitely changed. 🙂

    Please send my love to your mom and dad; I have such fond memories of our times together.


    Julie Lemerond


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