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December 18, 2006

Not All Suburbs Are Alike

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

During our semi-regular yaks here about urbanism, sprawl, suburbs, and towns, it's likely that many of us allow stereotypical images to dominate in our minds. I know I do. For instance, where the 'burbs are concerned:


Kris writes in to remind us that reality ain't always so simple, and to share a few snapshots of what the living is like in Carefree, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix:






Kris informs me that the beastie in photo #4 is a bobcat. (!) A few more eloquent words from Kris:

I'm an urban escapee, retooling my thoughts in the aloneness of dry mountains. I can't imagine serious thinking in a city. Cities turn thoughts inward, or toward human society/culture. Here, where the horizon expands, I ponder my future, the beneficence of God, love, what I'm going to write next, etc. You know, biggies.

Many thanks to Kris for the lovely pix, as well as for the valuable corrective



posted by Michael at December 18, 2006


I gu4ss my only caveat would be that suburbia, as it expands, means the replacement of nature at a faster, arguably more wasteful pace. As Phoenix gobbles up more and more desert (and drains more water to support grass lawns), how long will these scenes be available???

Posted by: Brian on December 19, 2006 12:32 AM

"I can't imagine serious thinking in a city."

You, Sir, lack imagination.

Posted by: ricpic on December 19, 2006 9:22 AM

Brian is right, sad to say. When I moved here in 1992, the road to Cave Creek was a two-lane through seemingly endless desert. Now it's a 4-lane, near-highway with strip malls and houses almost the whole way.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on December 19, 2006 11:16 AM

As I've noted before, relentless suburban growth in some ways is better than no growth at all. I (barely) survived the Great Recession that destroyed New England's economy in the early 1990's. During that horrible time, the sight of houses under construction, no matter how ugly and sprawling the developments might have been, would have been sheer bliss.

Posted by: Peter on December 19, 2006 3:43 PM

The creature is a javelina (peccary)-- more pig than cat, and common in-- not near, IN-- Phoenix and Tucson. A group attacked a woman and her Chihuahuas in Tucson last week-- see Alpha Environmentalist blog.

Posted by: Steve Bodio on December 19, 2006 7:25 PM

The creature is a javelina or collared peccary-- a piglike wild animal that actually lives IN cities like Phoenix and tucson. A group of six attacked a woman and her Chihuahuas last week in Tucson-- see Alpha Environmentalist blog.

Posted by: Steve Bodio on December 19, 2006 7:31 PM

Sorry about the double post-- didn't see it up so re- responded.

Posted by: Steve Bodio on December 21, 2006 10:37 AM

Steve B. -- This lousy image truly is my "pet" bobcat! Right now, this beautiful cat is sleeping on the warm cover of my hottub. His territory must include my property because occasionally, in the thick of the night, I hear him jump off the hollow clay roof tiles onto the wall.

He's just gorgeous. I'm obsessed with his big, thick black paws.

I left open the back doors and screens to see if the bobcat would come into the house. Finally, after several weeks, he ate the crepes (!) I had left cooling on the kitchen counter in a plastic bag. Occasionally, now, I hear him scratching at doors, or peering in windows. When inside, he pushes against my legs affectionately and then looks for food.

Such an animal!

Todd -- I agree, of course, that suburban growth has been rapid and accompanied by congestion. Cave Creek Road now runs thrugh Tatem Ranch, a huge developmet with small lots. To the east, though, are developments and communities with larger lot size (and price tags, sadly). The minimum acreage as well as the required 40 to 60 percent land set-aside as natural, untouched space gives the place a peaceful ambiance.


Posted by: Kris on December 22, 2006 12:11 AM

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