Spending the Day Outside

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April is right on the cusp of Arizona’s unbearable summer; it’s a magical month when you can still enjoy an afternoon sitting outside, drinking a smoothie and feeding tiny pieces of your apple to hopping finches. And Earth Day, designated to loving the pretty planet we live on, is so perfectly nested in the middle of it.

The other day I was on my way to the bus stop to head to a class in Phoenix, when I decided to walk a slightly different way through campus and pick up a juice. I went past the library to this little corner of campus with an organic cafe, patches of shaded grass, a sculpture art installation, and a playground for the little ones who attend daycare at the university. And as I saw the clusters of students reading and studying or simply enjoying the afternoon, I got really, achingly sad to be leaving college. It was almost a nostalgia for the experiences I didn’t have, the days I spent rushing between classes or home rather than lingering on campus. Being in college offers so many opportunities to do just that; there are little gaps in the day between classes that you can take to yourself. What a beautiful thing!

It’s hard not to be nostalgic about my experiences as a student – both the real and imagined – but I know that there will be other, future opportunities to enjoy little things like spending the afternoon reading a book, leaving the office to get an iced coffee, or working outside for a few hours. Today, drinking coffee on my back patio, I feel like the best really is yet to come.

Tucson, AZ: Christmas and Cacti

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On Tuesday, Domenico and I decided to take a little day trip to Tucson. It’s just an hour-and-a-half or so southeast of the Valley, and we’ve been wanting to have a short getaway for a while now. Domenico drove, I knitted furiously (now in my pre-Christmas making panic), and we listened to Christmas music (and then non-Christmas music at Domenico’s request).

Our first stop was Sabino Canyon. The plan was to hike to Seven Falls, but after losing the trail a couple of times and coming to a few forks, we decided to turn around. It was still a beautiful, albeit brief, hike, and I’m glad we decided to cut it short rather than spend all day trying to find our car again. We agreed to return, but next time with someone who was a little more familiar with the trail.

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Next stop: a variety of thrift stores and a nearby Eegee’s. Our thrifting love runs deep, so of course, we had to hit up a few Savers and Goodwills. We also stopped for an eegee, which is apparently some big draw in Tucson and Tucson only. It’s pretty much a cross between a slushy and sorbet, so yeah, pretty great. The shops on 4th Avenue were our next destination. This is such a cute little shopping district, mostly consisting of vintage shops, crafty boutiques, and tattoo parlors. The whole street smells like Nag Champa incense. I love the Tucson/Arizona-love going on in Tucson. They really embrace the best parts about living here, and there are cacti everywhere. I especially liked the Christmas-lighted prickly pears and felt saguaro ornaments.

As the sun went down, we headed downtown, where we passed some sweet historic hotels and new shops. We grabbed dinner at The Hub, a swanky, comfort food kind of place. The best part? The restaurant is home to an ice-cream bar. We treated ourselves to a cup of chai and something amazing called drunken brunch. Like Phoenix, Tucson’s downtown area seems to be being reinvigorated by caring, invested residents. It’s a lovely little city, and we’re ready to take a longer trip back soon.

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Visit to a Pumpkin Patch

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Last weekend, Domenico and I took a drive out to Schnepf Farms for their annual pumpkin patch and chili festival. We were probably the only couple there without children, and boy, did it make me appreciate the freedom of childless youth. I mean, we got to go on all the rides we wanted without worrying about those pesky little people! But really, it was only slightly embarrassing for two adults to sling tennis balls at cardboard pumpkins. And it did get me in the autumn spirit.

Of course, not toting little ones along didn’t keep us from participating in all the festivities. We definitely cuddled with some goats in the petting zoo, went on a few little rides, and wandered through the corn maze.We ate pumpkin chili and pumpkin pie, and Domenico snapped a horrifying picture of me eating an ear of corn (sadly, not included here). There may have even been some slightly uncomfortable pig races and dog shows involved. But when you do a pumpkin patch, you just have to go all out.

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