My grandparents were from Upstate New York, around Cazenovia, but they'd left for Phoenix in 1982, when Grandpa's job transferred there. My parents lived in San Diego, but moved back to my grandparents' place when they moved on to Lake Havasu City. My father's brother moved back to Syracuse in 2005, and it always seemed like a joke, moving to the land of harsh winters and taxes. The one time we visited in 2008 it was just too lushly green for me.

I grew up in this arid place and loved the desert - the sand, the cacti, the way it all looks the same until you look closely. When we had to stop watering my parents' lawn, I didn't mind - it seemed more real to me, and my brother and I had a good time trying to replace that grass with something that could last in the desert. I wound up using those skills as a landscape designer, helping people adjust to an ever-drier world while guzzling bottled water and turning up the evaporative cooler whenever I had the chance.

After a while, though, I had fewer customers. Somehow living in the brown didn't really appeal to people, and a lot of them headed for the coasts and for points north. In some ways that was a good thing, taking a lot of pressure off what little water we had left. We'd used up the aquifers a lot faster than we'd recharged them, and there wasn't more water coming in. A few wet years in the 2030s eased things a bit - actually kind of messed up some of my landscapes, but not permanently - but the 2040s have been miserable.

Phoenix is emptying out now, down to 200,000, and maybe there will still be a city there when they figure out how many people can live there permanently. There's not a whole lot of water left there.

Cascadilla fall

I brought my family to Upstate in 2047, not too far from where my uncle used to live. It's strange, looking around and seeing not just rain, but waterfalls. Everyone knows about Niagara, but who knew about Chittenango Falls, or Taughannock, or Watkins Glen? Water, even drinking water, is everywhere here.

The last few years of landscaping in Phoenix were pretty much a loss, so it looks like I'll be working here for a lot of my retirement, like a lot of us who moved back. The house is small and old, but it will do, and I have a lot to learn about gardening in a place where it's supposed to be easy.



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This page contains a single entry by Simon St.Laurent published on September 26, 2007 3:02 AM.

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