Mike Powell’s column is about living in Arizona.
Anyone who’s been here will tell you all about the light: its force, its starkness, how shadows seem to cut everything in two.
I gather it’s a cowboy thing, the way hard light fosters fantasies of the desert as a place where all existence struggles against an unforgiving sun. Light here doesn’t just light, it judges. A pamphlet from the EPA says roughly 171 Arizonans die of melanoma each year. Only about twice as many go by homicide.
But the real remarkable thing about this place isn’t the light, it’s the darkness. In some neighborhoods, you can walk three blocks between streetlights, losing sight of even your hands. Those short on material could build some rudimentary stand-up: I heard Tucson is so dark that …
This is, they will tell you, for the benefit of astronomy, something Arizona excels in, but also for us other people, who buy into the idea of being that much closer to the stars in a romantic, chamber-of-commerce way. Read More