I live in the central portion of Arizona; that is, in the “Valley of the Sun”, which, if you’re familiar with the area, may technically be a valley if a valley is a big-ass flat area with mountains scattered about the perimeter. Southeast of us is Tucson with proper mountains (according to the Hubster) and north of us is Flagstaff sitting pretty at about 7000 ft where, while we were still sweating it in the 90-degree weather, they got a bit of snow. It’s an odd state. But here where I live, we seem to have about 800 days straight of 110 degrees Farenheit and then we get an increasingly shorter and shorter stretch of fairly pleasant weather. Suffice it to say, we don’t have “seasons” like most of the rest of the country. Autumn for us here is simply a set of dates on the calendar. We don’t have the vegetation that alters color with the passage of time. Cactus tends to stay green, palo verde tends to stay green, and grass on the lawn tends to stay dead. However, there is one particular indicator that autumn and the holiday season will be upon us soon:
The arrival of cinnamon scented pinecones.
Pinecones aren’t necessarily scented in nature. Maybe they smell a bit like bark, I don’t know, I don’t tend to smell pinecones. I actually have a bit of a “hate-hate” relationship with pine trees because they are also odd in the arena of flora: when most other trees (palo verde and other desert trees excepted) are in their fall colors, pine trees are determinedly green. When other trees are budding into their green leaves, pines shed their brown needles, but not before they magically quintuple the sheer amount of needles before they drop. Or perhaps pine needles breed and multiply much in the manner of wire hangers as the sheer volume of pine needles that I have been forced to rake up in the my life seems to completely be at an amount far above and beyond what a normal-seeming pine tree should be able to produce. And while you can rake up normal leaves and then have a bit of fun leaping into the pile with wild abandon, leaping into a pile of pine needles is like leaping into something about as pliable as a soft brick, and all the pointy ends turn magically upward to imbed themselves into your skin. Also, pine needles don’t burn well, and they don’t compost at all. The only redeeming aspect of pine trees (at least the ones I grew up with in Florida) is that the trees are so wet with sap, that, if you happen to get your pine trees TPed by a bunch of roving hooligans (or your best friends) you can actually light the end of the TP on fire and it will burn up all the TP without setting the tree on fire.
But in Florida, we didn’t have cinnamon-scented pinecones. Pinecones were generally run over by your car, chucked at your little sister, or swore at if you happened to step on one with your bare foot. It’s kind of fun to play stickball with them, even if they do have the aerodynamic capacity of a whiffle ball, and it’s also fun to stick them full of fire crackers and light them up. But soaking them in cinnamon oil or water or what ever they use and then putting them in your house? Nah. Sure, they’re a good firelighter but it’s better if you dip them in paraffin first.
But now I walk into my local Joann’s or wherever, and I’m assaulted with the odor of cinnamon pinecones. This is how I know that the holiday season is coming. And now, of course, the holiday season begins shortly after the back-to-school sales end, which, here, is in the thick of 122 degree weather, higher humidity than normal (for a desert), and this year, for some reason, a dust storm every Tuesday. Why Tuesday? Who knows?
Who decided that these pinecones needed to be cinnamon anyway? What’s wrong with natural pinecones? I don’t require stinky pinecones. And those pinecones are stinky — stinky to the point where I can be in the back corner of the clearance section (back behind the yarn) and I’m wondering if some jackass dropped a stinky pinecone into my purse. The smell of those pinecones does not dissipate with distance. Unless maybe I get a full parsec away. If I were to attempt to decorate my house with stinky pinecones, I would have to put them in my neighbor’s house in order to not get a migraine from them. I kind of like my neighbors, but we’re not chummy enough for me to extend my decorating off my property into someone else’s. And even then, I would have to keep my doors and windows closed because I’m sure I’d still be able to smell those damn things, even from the house next door.
I wonder if Joann’s also sells hermetically sealing kits for those pinecones. But then I’d have to get close to them to seal them up. Oh well. I suppose I should remind myself that if the pinecones are here, then I can expect the temperatures here in the Valley of the Sun to be in the double digits. That is, for about 36 days. Yay!