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.



19 thoughts on “Changes in Summer

  1. Ahhhh….to be in Oregon right now is sublime…..
    My son lived in Phoenix for a few years. He loved it and can’t wait til the kids grow up and he can move back. I spent a month every summer there with my grandkids and we counted the days until we could get on the plane and get to Oregon. You have to be a special kind of crazy to live in a place like Phoenix in the summertime. Congratulations! I’ll use my blender and wear tye dye. Thanks anyway.

  2. I used to live in Reno, where occasionally in the summers our temperatures would climb into the 100s, a couple of times as high as 120. But never any humidity so it wasn’t a Terrible experience. You were hot. Really hot. But it wasn’t awful.

    I now live in south Mississippi, where I started coming to graduate school in the summers in 2001. When people groused about the heat, I used to tell them that it was only bad for 6 weeks–the last 2 weeks of July & August. But we’re already hitting those kinds of temperatures now. When I went for my run Monday morning at 5:45, the heat index was already in the 90s. It’s well into the 100s by the afternoons. It is. Too. Hot. Too. Soon. (We are grateful for AC today. When I woke up Thursday, the house was incredibly warm & the AC was screaming. Yesterday a new unit was installed) The season of light eating has begun. Even though I’m exercising, it’s too hit to eat. It requires too much energy. & it’s too soon.

    • I am with you on this. It is too hot, too soon. I have lived in the South, and the humidity defeats sweating–you don’t evaporate your sweat, but your body still sweats, so you are constantly damp. Ugh. I’ve finally caved and am going to the gym today. I’d rather do the exercise outside, but I can’t. It’s too hot. Too soon.

    • Yep. Every year, you see ’em stuck on the road. The road surface reaches 160 degrees F. quickly. That’s why we don’t walk our dogs during the middle of the day, and you don’t see too many people going barefoot in summer.

  3. Lovely post, it had me thinking about the years I lived in Thailand. Hot always, with just a little respite on January mornings. Eating lunch outside with the misters sending cooler air your way . . . going from one air-conditioned space to another hoping not to melt on the way.
    You certanly set Pete and Ray off! Margarita shirts could be a winner!

    • I’m thinking Margarita shirts would be a huge hit here! Except, of course, if you get caught in the misters. We are a lot drier than Thailand or Singapore, but we do have our heat. I’d love to spend more time in Thailand. You must have great notes and photos!

  4. That’s HOT. I can’t imagine a season like that. Ice in the washing machine sounds quite odd. Melted flip-flops?….you’d never get me out of air-conditioned comfort…perhaps into the pool occasionally.

    • The first summer here, you believe everyone is insane. But after a few years, you are so grateful you don’t have to shovel snow, you grump through summer the way most people grump through snow and ice. And our big bonus in the summer is that the snowbirds have gone home, leaving the lines at the restaurants and movies shorter. We love our snowbirds, but we take a certain amount of crazy pride in sticking out the summer.

  5. Quinn,

    This is a lovely post, evoking all the heat of your summer with some great imagery. Friends have a place in Phoenix and they have “Deck misting ceiling fans” in their barbecue area. I laughed when he told me. Reading your description of the weather over the next few months, those misters now make sense…

    Stay cool as you can.

  6. Putting ice in the washer seems like something you could build a screenplay around and sell it to Hollywood. You know, blotto kid visits his college friend who lives in Phoenix, sees the ice thing, realized a washing machine is really a giant BLENDER so he makes margaritas by the gallon, somebody tosses their shirt in, this starts the national “shirt sucking” craze…

    Kind of Hot Tub Time Machine meets Weekend at Bernies. I’ll have my people call your people; they’ll talk, babe.

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