I recently attended a weekend interfaith conference in Oracle, Arizona. The postcard at the top is apt since it snowed on the Sunday morning of the conference. About an inch accumulated but began to melt at midday. This is the first snow that I’ve touched in four years. Besides walking on it, I held some in my hands. The last time that I was in a snowy and icy storm was in Oklahoma City in early March 2019 when I was in the process of moving from Kansas City to Phoenix.
Oracle is not too far northeast of central Tucson — 33 miles or so. It lies along the northern foothills of the Catalina Mountains of Arizona. Biosphere 2 is just outside Oracle to the west. To the east lies Oracle State Park.
The Triangle Y Ranch Camp was where the conference was held. Only several miles from Oracle, it’s already in the foothills of Mt. Lemmon, the highest peak in the Catalina mountain range. The Triangle Y is either in the Coronado National Forest or just adjacent. This part of the national forest is in the Santa Catalina District.
The Triangle Y is primarily a summer camp for young people. Sleeping facilities for the men who came alone to the conference included all-year cabins, each with bunk beds, where you bring your own bedroll. Six men shared one washroom. This for grown men on a budget! (We all paid a fee to cover the expenses of the conference including three meals a day. I brought my own kosher food, as did another Jewish attendee.)
It’s a far cry from the summer camp in Wisconsin that I attended in the mid 60s. Same bunk beds. Bedding was supplied, though, at my Wisconsin camp. Washing and toilet facilities were in a separate cabin. The cabins weren’t heated, so when counselors came before the campers came, a rough wool blanket didn’t serve to dispel the Wisconsin early morning chill.
A gushing mountain stream ran alongside the Triangle Y’s parking lot. At this time of year, the water is snow melt from Mt. Lemmon and its rain runoff. It had rained not long before the conference.
You see that most of the trees and shrubs have shed their leaves for the winter. No so in Phoenix. Some do, some don’t. At the same time, trees and shrubs that grow in the foothills of Mt. Lemmon don’t necessarily grow in Phoenix.
In two of these pictures, you can see Prickly Pear cactuses. I thought that they would grow in a colder climate so long as the freezes are not too long, only overnight for example. Someone I met in the Chicago area, though, had a Prickly Pear in his front yard where it would catch the sun all day long! He created a microclimate with flagstones around the plant to capture the heat of the sun. Even so, the temperature in Chicago gets bitterly cold, and the sun doesn’t shine for days on end. However, according to Wikipedia, the Prickly Pear “also occurs naturally in … sandy or rocky areas of northern Illinois.” But there are a number of species and varieties of Prickly Pear according to Wikipedia. What was growing in this man’s yard wasn’t necessarily the same variety that you see in the picture.
By the way, the Triangle Y served brewed tea in an urn on Shabbat morning. I sweetened it with sugar. So, I had a cup of hot tea with sugar to begin my morning!