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A Shadow Is An Ephemeral Thing

The Journal of Prevarication
Here lies Jim Cook

Most of the nation went on Daylight Saving Time last week, three weeks earlier than in previous years.

Just five days after that, we experienced a frightening example of why Arizona does NOT go on DST.

Arizona tried it back in 1967, and learned that we already had more daylight than we could use. We have daylight that we’ve saved since Statehood in 1912.

Only our sundials, and the Navajo Indian Reseveration, go on Daylight Saving Time. The Big Rez goes to DST because it extends into New Mexico and Utah. But the Hopi Reservation, which is entirely surrounded by the Navajo Reservation, stays on standard time.

Some people complain that Arizona is out of synch with much of the world. I used to let that bother me, since Arizona has a kind of inferiority complex, being next to California and all.

Then, last week, New Mexico named the bola tie its official state neckwear. Heck, Arizona did that in 1971. Furthermore, the bola tie was patented by an inventor right here in Wickenburg in 1949. Dry ice was invented here, too.

I’m beginning to get over my complex. As far as Daylight Savings Time is concerned, there is disagreement worldwide. The Mexican state of Sonora and the Canadian provice of Saskatchewan also eschew DST. Australia’s a mess–if you want to know about that, go to http://www.abc.net.au/backyard/timezone.htm, then explain it to me.

Personally, I don’t find it that hard to remember that it is now three hours later in New York than it is here, and that it’s the same time on the Pacific Coast that it is in Arizona.

Last Friday, we performed with a group of fellow musicians and poets at the Festival of the West at Rawhide. The original Rawhide theme park opened on North Scottsdale Road in 1972. Rawhide was supposed to look like it had grown there in the 1880s.

Rawhide was way north of Scottsdale back then, but the city grew up around it, and beyond it, until it reached the boundary of the Tonto National Forest.

Real estate got expensive, so in 2005 Rawhide was replicated on the Gila River Reservation, west of Chandler and south of Ahwatukee (so far).

Which brings us back to the two constants in Arizona, weird climate, and unreal population growth.

In the Phoenix area, we’re seeing many trees and shrubs that seem to have been killed by frost in January.

But on Friday, March 16, it was hot at Rawhide, which has pretty much the same climate as Wickenburg and Phoenix. Unseasonably hot. Unreasonably hot.

Janice Coggin, CEO of Cowboy Miner Productions, put together our part of the Festival of the West, and she wisely brought along some tarps for shade.

Cowboy poet Mike Whittaker and my brother Dean (the dean of Arizona songwriters), found some string and tied one of the tarps between a mesquite tree and a fence to give us some shade between shows. The tree was either killed by frost, or it hadn’t leafed out yet, so it made a better post than a tree.

Mike said it was 24 degrees when he left his home in Washington State the morning before. He’d had to scrape ice off his windshield. He didn’t remember Rawhide being so hot last year. I can’t remember last year.

We started out in the morning with a pretty good patch of shade, but by noon, that shade was not much bigger than a postage stamp. Not your big, 39-cent stamp, either–more like the three-cent stamp we used when I was a kid.

Furthermore, the shade kept moving, faster than we could.

Doc Jordan was running the show, emceeing and singing some tunes. About 3:30, I noticed that Doc wasn’t casting a shadow. Doc always has some new trick up his sleeve.

Then Sue Harris got up with her guitar and Doc Rolland with his fiddle, and I noticed that they had left their shadows elsewhere, too. It didn’t detract from Sue’s singing, or Doc’s playing. Talk about a hot fiddle.

Turkey vultures soared lazily overhead. Audience members who were in the back row of our little amphitheatre had about six inches of shade to work with. The rest were brave, and possibly from Minnesota, soaking up daylight while they could.

When Miss Ellie and I got on stage, I picked up one boot, then the other. I looked underneath, and all around us. No shadows. I was getting a little scared, but the ham gene kicked in, and we sang our songs.

My theory is that the daylight was so powerful that it simply overpowered shadows, which are ephemeral things.

About four o’clock, the sun had tipped far enough to the west that the shadows came back. We gave a collective sigh of relief.

The official high temperature in Phoenix that day was 99. When we got into our car about 5 p.m., the car thermometer said the outside temperatures was 100 degrees.

We had enough daylight to get us most of the way home before my automatic headlights came on.

This weekend, we’ll be participating in the 18th annual Phoenix Folk Traditions Music Festival at Encanto Park. Half the mailing list for The Journal of Prevarication will be performing there, along with many other musicians. The other half of the mailing list is invited to come listen. It’s free.

The forecast is for 22 degrees cooler than last Friday. We’re hoping it won’t snow on our daylight.

My brother Dean lies almost as much as I do, and he does it more melodiously. He also writes pretty songs. If you’d like to buy a copy of his new CD, “Woodsmoke at Sundown,” you can reach him at azminstrel@yahoo.com.

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