Normal Reactions

In the years when I lived and worked in a cold climate, there was some sort of

Snow tree from

drive to master the weather. No matter how much snow or ice piled up and coated your windshield, you got to work on time. (I was not a surgeon or a firefighter, I worked in marketing departments.) There were pre-dawns I shoveled snow, panicky that I could not overcome nature. That I might be late for work. It wasn’t that many years ago that I walked to work in three feet of snow, to prove I was not afraid of weather. That I was not a slacker.

When we arrived at work, it was in 3-inch leather heels and stockings, wool-blend suits and other materials that were easily ruined by salt and water.

A certain level of success and wealth was implied by striding into work without an umbrella, without a canvas tote of boots and gloves. There were executives who had heated garages and even heated driveways. Proof that you were above the weather.

Arizona wildfire. Credit: AP Photo/ The Arizona Republic, Carlos Chavez

I think of those days when I hear about the wildfires in Colorado. The fires have no concern for wealth or status. One person’s house stands, another burns. Reconstruction will take years, souls will knit their cracks only with time and love–neither on sale at Walmart.  Or Barneys.

One of the reasons I love my new home state of Arizona is that the citizens (wild, strange, loving, caring and occasionally gun-totin’) pay attention to the weather. I wear sandals to teaching jobs. I wear linen and cotton clothing. Neat, pressed, but lightweight in deference to our 113-degree heat.

Dust storm (haboob) rolling over Phoenix from

In the evening, I’m in the pool. Not swimming laps, not using exercise tools. I’m in the pool because the weather is hot and the water is cooling. It’s sensible and sane.

I like living in step with nature. I like being realistic. It gives me a sensible outlook on life. And in a way, when our wildfires sweep across our Ponderosa pines (as they did just a few weeks ago), I might feel sorrow, or empathy, or even fear, but I don’t feel outrage. I don’t feel entitled to perfect weather. It feels like a real life.

-Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach who keeps her house at 83 degrees during the day. Because that’s still 20 degrees cooler than outside.