Changes in Summer

People laugh when I tell them there are clear seasons in Phoenix. “What?” they joke, “Hot, Hotter and Hell?” We have shifts in seasons. Yes, it has been 112 degrees F (44.4C) already. But there are progressions I love to pay attention to.

Dust storm rolling into Phoenix, courtesy komo news.

Dust storm rolling into Phoenix, courtesy komo news.

The sun rises relentlessly earlier until June 22. That’s the longest day, and after that, even though the two hottest months are still ahead of us, the days taper slowly to a later dawn and an earlier sunset. But it is very slow at first.

Today, for the first time, when I got up at 4:00 a.m., it was too hot to leave the door open. Once it doesn’t get below 85 F (29.5 C) I don’t leave the sliders open. By the time I had put on walking clothes, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, the sun was up over the horizon.

IMG_0777.JPGThat day it becomes too hot to leave the door open also signals the beginning of Monsoon Season. Not officially, of course. We need to have three consecutive days of a dewpoint over 55 for that. But once it gets too hot to open the sliders, we start to get afternoon clouds. And the humidity inches upwards. After that, it’s no longer a dry heat.

The oranges, lemons, and grapefruit stop growing. They are bright green now, and will stay that way till October.

First picking of last years lemon crop. The table is six feet long.

First picking of last years lemon crop. The table is six feet long.

Oranges are the size of ping-pong balls; grapefruit the size of oranges. Lemons are small; I don’t see them yet, but last year the tree (still damaged from a lightning strike five years ago) had 300 lemons.

The pool is still cool, but no longer crisp. In another three weeks, it will feel warm to get into it, then the cooling power comes from getting out. You dry fast, and it feels cold. Then you get in a warm pool again.

The figs are still green and hard. It will be July before they are ready to eat.

Now is the season to bring the plants in pots  inside because the pots get too hot during the day. Now is the time to water the thirsty plants twice a day. This years new plants won’t survive without twice a day watering. My two new gopher plants and the bird of paradise plant need help.

Red Bird of Paradise (also called Mexican Bird of Paradise).

Red Bird of Paradise (also called Mexican Bird of Paradise).

Now is the time to be glad I replaced the frozen and dead Natal Plum with rosemary, which is tough and survives our heat.

This is the season of daily changing the hummingbird feeders, as it spoils in the heat. Sometimes it turns into syrup, as the water evaporates and the sugar stays.

When I walk in the morning, the ice in the bottle won’t last. If there is any water left, it will be warm when I get home. I shut off the hot water in the washing machine; the cold water comes out of the tap at 105 degrees. If I want to wash delicates in cold water, I have to add ice to the washing machine. That will be true till early September.

This is the time of heavy heat. I spend most of my days indoors. I saw my first young child standing in the street in front of the Parks and Rec. pool,  waiting for the parents to drive up with the car. When the car drove up, the kid’s flip-flops had melted to the street. Welcome to summer in Phoenix.

-Quinn McDonald is blending strawberries and yogurt and freezing it. It’s cold and will pass as popsicles.