There is not one mosquito in all of Arizona. They can’t live there because there is no such thing as their beloved standing water. Any water gets quickly sucked into the roots of trees and cacti or into the scorched earth. When I moved to Texas after thirteen years in Arizona, I had forgotten mosquitos even existed.
Almost all the homes in Preston Hollow where I live back to an alley. These are old neighborhoods and the minute an ancient house goes up for sale, it’s swooped up by a builder, torn down and a new, impossibly gigantic home is built in its place. As a result, even the nicest neighborhoods are mixed with small, old homes and huge new ones. Most of the homes are beautifully maintained in the front yards and then there are the alleys. The alleys look like slums. They are overgrown with poison ivy and other sinister foliage, the pavement, if your alley even has it, is uneven and chopped up giving way to dirt or mud and there are bits and pieces of trash which escape from the decrepit garbage cans on Monday mornings when the trash trucks come blasting through. It’s such a juxtaposition to the front side of the neighborhoods that when my mom was here, and I pulled my car out of the garage into the alley, she said, “What!? The alleys don’t count?” No, mom, apparently they don’t. All the people of Dallas are in some kind of collective denial about the alleys.
The second day I lived here I was desperate to feel some sense of control so I went out to clean up my little area of alley. I weed whacked some overgrown vegetation, hosed some mud and dirt to the neighbor’s little area of alley and used all my might to overturn my trashcan that was filled with standing water. Then, I was promptly swarmed by hundreds of breeding mosquitos and before I could run to the house, got bit eighteen times. The next day, I was driving down the street, Calamine lotion covering a third of my body and saw a sign that said, “Attention! Public spraying for West Nile Virus begins this weekend!” Welcome to Texas.