If you’ve never spent summer in the desert, you may have trouble imagining what it’s like, except you know it must be hot. That is what is known as an understatement. In case your curiosity runs a little deeper, let me share a few analogies and thoughts about summering in the desert.
Not to waste words, at times it’s like being trapped in a sauna. That’s when local dwellers talk about the heat and the curse of high humidity. At other times, it’s like being locked in a room with the thermostat cranked up high. That’s when local dwellers tell you it’s sure hot but at least it’s a dry heat.
For you who live where snow falls and the winter is long and dark, it’s getting reverse cabin fever. Just as snow piles outside the door, heat settles outside the door, an invisible barrier.
It’s a time when you become disenchanted with your house because you only leave it at night, if at all, like a nocturnal hunter or in the early morning before the heat reaches an endearing 114 degrees or more. When the temperature is at 99 or 100 degrees, it feels like a cold snap.
You become sick of your clothes. They’re always wrinkled and too warm. No matter how cool (and I don’t mean stylish here) they’re supposed to be, they’re always clinging to your back. Bad hair days and hat hair abound.
You carry a cooler in the car so your groceries don’t ferment or spoil between the market and the house. Your purse weighs on your shoulder because of the two bottles of water in it. The beverage container in your car always contains a bottle of water. By the end of the day, it’s half used and hot.
Your disposition fluctuates between depressed and irritable. You may become annoyed with the other person in the room. You can look in the mirror and get into an argument. The air conditioner, its sound and unnatural breeze, begins to grate on your nerves.
Plants wither, people and animals must be kept hydrated, things acquire a dusty luster.
And, after all of the above, why stay? It’s simple. The desert is a seductress.
Nothing is more beautiful than a desert sky on a summer’s night. In the blackest of darkness stars glisten, making you feel you can reach as far as infinity. Imagine a desert landscape where flowers, delicate and rich in color, bloom, ignoring the starkness of their surroundings.
Nothing is more stately than bighorn sheep seen on a mountainside or tall Mexican fan palms, pencil thin, strong survivors. Imagine white billowing clouds against the bluest of desert skies. The sound of a summer’s rain is like music. A date garden shares its dignity and bounty. Where I live, I marvel that I’m standing on the sandy floor of an ancient lake with its watermark etched on the mountainside.
Gathering with a group after work or breaking out of the house to meet a friend on a summer’s evening is pure delight. Imagine that first cold glass of wine or sip of beer or something stronger if your day has been a real beast.
Nothing is more soothing than the pure, unsullied sounds of silence in the early morning or late evening, a time when you can commune with yourself.
You step into the rhythm of the summer desert. Up early. Out early. Home. Out in the evening. Dinner. Sleep.
When summer finally breaks into autumn and temperatures slowly cool, nothing is more grand than the weather and the freedom to go out and play. Weather which stepped on your last good nerve in late August now sells real estate to those who want a desert paradise, lures snowbirds from the tundra, and charms the heck out of you, making summer just an old dream.
Of course, you cheat. You might escape to another home in another clime. You might take a trip or three. You might drive up to the local mountains to feel a cooling breeze on your face. You might drive over to the Pacific Ocean, two and a half hours away.
You may wonder what a person does during these long hot summers. Here’s a list in case you find yourself with a desert summer on your hands. (You can add your own in the comments section at the end of the blog. I’m always open for more!)
1. Binge watch TV.
2. Go to the movies. The local movie house becomes a close friend.
3. Clean closets, cupboards.
4. Do house maintenance.
5. Shop online. I like amazon.com, wayfair. com, overstock.com., Chico’s.com.
6. Read – everything from books to online newspapers to medicine bottles.
7. Eat … Drink.
8. Linger on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked-In.
9. Submit your DNA to ancestry.com.
10. Sort and organize photos.
11. Study something new like photography or playing the guitar.
12. Write. In a journal, emails, letters. Work on a novel.
Re: number 12, I completed a short story called “The Long Playing Record” and submitted it to several literary journals. The RavensPerch picked it up. You can read it here. http://www.theravensperch.com.
I also worked on a collection of poetry and art with an associate which involved several meetings at the local coffee house. More to come on that project in future posts.
And there you have it. Summer in the desert. I used to come to the desert only in the winter. To play. I didn’t realize it would talk to me and lure me to stay.