Sedona red rocks while walking around to our driveway

Not many people get to wake up every morning and see the beauty that I have seen growing up all my life in Cottonwood, Arizona. While looking back at the first 18 years of my life, I now see all that the Verde Valley has given me. I was born and raised here and lived in the same house my entire life. Standing on our back deck gives you the most amazing view of the Sedona red rocks while walking around to our driveway out front shows off beautiful Mingus Mountain.

Unfortunately, I took Cottonwood for granted growing up here. When I was younger, I saw it as a small, boring town, but as I grew older, I realized just what it had given me. There really is a good sense of community here, where people look out for one another and you know all your neighbors’ names.

I now live in Tucson and attend the University of Arizona, and whenever I go home, I find that the thing I miss most about my hometown is the way it smells. At night, it smells crisp like winter, even though it may not be cold outside. There are so many distinct scents that you cannot help but love it. Our air is clean and the variety of plants, bushes, and trees provides you with a wonderful smell all year long. My favorite is the creosote bush. There is nothing quite like smelling creosote after it rains. The rain opens up the smell and once it hits my nose it reminds me of growing up there and the many summertime monsoons that would hit at a moments notice.

Sure, cities have their advantages, such as malls and bigger movie theatres and amusement parks, but it took me several years to find out what my small little town in Arizona had to offer. You cannot drive for a mere 20 minutes and then be completely isolated from roads, people, and traffic in a city. You cannot swim in a river, hike a mountain, or get away from all the noise in a city. Moreover, if you live in a city you most certainly cannot see just how bright and wondrous stars are in the Arizona sky at night. Whenever family or friends come to visit from out of town, the first thing they notice at night is how beautiful our view of the stars is. Without the light pollution, you would find in a city sky, you could just sit back in awe and see what God has created for our nighttime viewing pleasure. I found out that amusement parks and shopping centers get dull very fast, but when you have so many things to do in nature, it never gets boring, especially when it is all so close to you. There is always somewhere new to explore and new seasons to explore them.

The mildness of the seasons is another great aspect about my town. When I was younger, I used to get so mad that we rarely ever got snow in Cottonwood, but now I see that that may be a good thing. We are nestled perfectly in the Verde Valley where the seasons are mild but you can still see the changes they bring. We are far enough north in the state where it stays comparatively cool in the hot months, but not too far north so we do not have to deal with snow all winter long. Then there is fall. My world at that time in Cottonwood is so colorful. I get to see the leaves change their shades and colors and eventually fall in the winter, and then as the weather warms up I get to see all the trees turn green again and witness the wild flowers sprout up everywhere. One day my view of Mingus Mountain is snow peaked with deep brown color holding olive green tones that the pine trees create, and the next it is bright and vibrant with the new leaves and shrubs that have popped up. The way each season looks is new, exciting, and beautiful in its own way.

The best part of Cottonwood, however, is how much it feels like home. No matter where else I will live in my life and for how long, Cottonwood will always be home to me. My town gives me a feeling of comfort, love, and beauty that no place on earth will ever compare. Even new residents end up saying the same thing: that it finally feels like they are home.