Sonoran desert stomping

Last week I visited my old desert stomping grounds, Tucson Arizona. The University of Arizona Honors College hosted me for the week of events prior to the Tucson Festival of Books.

My Alma Mater greeted me with the best hospitality a girl could ever wish for.

Our first event was a pickling demo in the Arbol de la Vida dorm kitchen. I used dorm-accessible equipment and fridge pickled carrots and daikons in a gingery cider vinegar brine. I went wild on the recipe, so once my hosts taste the pickles (and determine their ultimate deliciousness), I’ll share the recipe here in a couple weeks.

The next day I strapped on my helmet and took off in search of my college mentors, citrus blossoms and, of course, Mexican food. My undergrad Ecological Anthropology mentor, located (in his I-was-feeling-wild-this-morning-shirt).

Later that evening I headed to the Honors College for a meet and greet with other Alumni. The UA Honors College is very hip already, just check out their cloth napkins.

I plucked a couple oranges from the tree outside, on my way out.

I headed to my accommodations, tasted the tart oranges and decided to make orange simple syrup.

I wrote about the proportions for how to make a simple syrup from any amount of juice in last week’s Hip Trick. I poured some of that simple syrup directly into a bottle of bubbly water to make a fine homemade (and local!) Aranciata.

Truthfully, I stalked citrus blossoms for the duration of my trip. And as a reward for continuing the course, I happened upon a grapefruit tree positively bursting with blooms.

I pulled out a book and read there, downwind, until the sun ducked behind a building.

I also stalked Acacia, thanks to the flower wherewithal and a mention to be on alert for it from my UA Honors College hosts.

The moon grew full and shot up over the horizon during my stay, too.

This trip spanned one of my favorite times to be in the desert, second only to monsoon season. The wildflowers were flinging themselves at us from cracks and crevices, from dust and sand.

By the time my slot at the Tucson Festival of books arrived, I felt so revived by the desert spring, by the tacos from Martin’s, by freedom to roam around old haunts and new hot spots thanks to Susan’s bicycle.

The book fest was supposed to be the main bookselling event for me (to fund the trip), but as it turns out the UA Honors College stole the show with kind staff, fabulous support of my book/blog, great students and the warmest welcome. Thank you for such a wonderful visit!