Phoenix Summer Stories for July 4

SPARKLERS_-_sparklers_5-9-09_white_bursting_LARGEJuly 4th is the mid-summer holiday. When I lived in New England, I’d sigh softly, knowing that I’d be wearing a sweater at night in a month. Now I sigh, knowing that for another 10 weeks it will be over 100 degrees every day. June was over 100 degrees every day, too. And July is the hottest month, so we have the 115- to 118-degree days to go yet.

*     *     *    *

At the bank today, I pulled into the parking lot. I parked farther away so I could position the car’s back to the sun. The windshield is big, and I didn’t want the car to be unbearable by the time I got back.

IMG_0777.JPGI grabbed my water bottle for a drink. As I poured the icy water into my mouth, a chunk of ice pulled loose and pushed a flood of water down my shirt. From neckline to bellybutton, I was drenched. Did I scream? Nope. Did I fear going into the bank? Of course not. It felt good.

I got out of the car and walked. . . slowly, as we do when we walk into the sun, to the bank. I felt the heat of the pavement underneath my sandals. It was 108 degrees. I pulled open the bank door, felt the rush of cool air, and looked down. Yep, just as I thought. The water spill was gone, evaporated by the blazing hot sun in the walk across the parking lot.

*     *    *    *   *

The first time I saw someone driving a dark car in Phoenix’s summer heat and noticed they were wearing oven mitts, I thought they were crazy. Now I think they are brilliant. Tossing a towel over the steering wheel just doesn’t keep it cool enough. Driving while wearing oven mitts makes a lot of sense.

*   *   *   *   *   *

In the winter, I can carry a small purse. But in the heat of the summer, I need a larger one. It needs to hold my water bottle, sure, but more than that, it needs to hold the CDs and CD case, phone charger and anything plastic in the car. Even a short run to the grocery store will warp a CD left in the player, and melt plastic sunglasses or cups.

*   *   *   *   *   *

Dust storm moving into Phoenix.

Dust storm moving into Phoenix.

After the evening swim, I spray water on the patio, the block walls, and the roof. The evaporation happens so fast, that it cools off the brick and cement heat island. Enough to notice it in my electricity bill.

*  *  *   *   *  *

Now that it’s Monsoon, we have to deal with humidity, too. Don’t tell anyone from Phoenix that “it’s a dry heat.” But I don’t complain because there is January and February to look forward to.

Quinn McDonald lives in Phoenix all year round.