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.

16 thoughts on “Phoenix Summer Stories for July 4

  1. Here’s a fun thing you can do with the high heat of the car-put in a wax tart (you know, the fragranced ones) and let the heat do its job. Here’s a warning, though-the first time I did this, I just put the tart in the cup holder, not thinkig of the consequences. It totally melted, and I had to wait until October or so to pop it out. Put the wax block into a little cup before putting it in the cup holder! Happy summer.

  2. Quinn,  I always enjoy your posts. I lived in Tucson for 10 years. Miss the weather, even the 108’s. I’m now in Oregon. Beautiful, but not warm often enough for me. Also, we rarely have sun. Sincerely, Cathe Ekas

  3. I’m with Leslie on this one. My son lived in Phoenix for several years. He loved it. I spent a couple of weeks there in the summer months and couldn’t wait to get home to Oregon. It’s rainy spring and fall and wet through the winter but I wouldn’t trade it for that kind of heat in the summer. We are enjoying our heat wave at eighties and nineties right now and it’s just fine for me.
    You are all warriors out there in the dessert!
    Leslie, what’s a block heater?

    • Until Leslie gives a better answer, a block heater is a heater you put in your car’s engine to keep the oil fluid enough to circulate in the winter. When I was in Goose Bay, many years ago, they had plugs for your heater attached to parking meters. That’s COLD!

      • Of course! I’ve spent a few winters in North Dakota. All our cars have them! duh…
        I was hoping it was some new (or old) kind of heater for the house. You know, super efficient and cozy at the same time. Always looking for the best way to heat this old farmhouse.

      • Yep, that’s it. And you’re right, you get used to what you like. I think you also learn to like what you get used to. But I’m in awe of those of you who thrive in the desert heat.

    • You get used to what you like. When I was in Fort Worden several years ago, I realized I had arthritis, which I had forgotten about. I had to buy a cane after two days the pain was so awful.

  4. Phoenix may be extreme, but I am such a lover of the sun {and despise the cold winters} that I never say it is too hot. I may dramatically put the back of my hand to my forehead {a la Scarlet O’Hara) and say “My it is awfully warm today… I am now having to accustom myself to the humidity in Dallas (versus Albuquerque’s LOW humidity) so I can complain about that rather than how hot it is.

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