The first thing that one realizes about finally living in real Summer, desert heat which hovers constantly between 106˚F and 112˚F, is that life goes on as normal. You don’t sudden disappear in a puff of smoke as predicted, melt nor swoon and succumb to ‘the vapors‘. But, the new normal is not being able to breakfast on the patio … (a quick dash to water the flower boxes at dawn and a quick dash back into cooling central air).
It’s also the essential purchase of polyester-suede, custom-made, dashboard cover for protection from temperatures that easily soar to 130˚F in a parked car. The little habits one quickly adopt and which become usual and unquestioned. Always mounting the silvered, polyurethane sun shield cover that fits up against the windshield and is held by folded-down sun visors. Your constant search for shade in mall parking lots in a state, I am frequently told … “This is Arizona. There is no shade. Get used to it!” The car-color-matching, thermos cup that you never leave home without and fill with filtered cold water and handfuls of oval ice. The ice filled cooler box that you take grocery shopping because nothing perishable could be guaranteed left in a parked car between stores. And the sudden entrance of the “Monsoon Season“, much heralded after years of its absence and thus know as “Nonsoon“; the start of what Africans call the “Rainy Season“, the Chinese, “Tai Fung “, the English co-opted, “Typhoon“, “Haboob‘, Arabic for ‘strong wind‘. Yes, wind and rain and thunder and lightning and hail and an historic dust storm that only Francis Ford Coppola and Steven Spielberg could possibly have concocted; 100 miles wide and 1 mile high that billowed its way across the Valley-of-the-Sun engulfing all in its path. And, sadly, despite all the drama and my presence … I weathered it all quite unawares. Yes, I heard the clatter of heavy rain on the car porch roof, the howl of wind forced between sliding panes of glass, noticed everything pink covered at first light, but I smelt nothing dusty or whirl-windy.
I went about my evening business quite unawares until the panicked e-mails arrived, one from Australia the rest from New Jersey. The constant alarmed question I was asked, ‘how does this happen?‘ and the simple answer is to compare massive carpet bombing where a titanic amount of water suddenly crashes down on dry, unsuspecting and dusty desert, causing a massive ripple effect of driven air gathering each grain of sand, every morsel of dust and all that is not tied down to cascade in a dusty tidal wave. And that colossus was only the first of three.
The new normal is also witnessing senior ladies driving with gloved hands not because it’s elegant, which it is, but because steering wheels, even as you drive, get too hot to be held by fingers constantly seeking a place less alarming. But, as temperatures shimmer at three digits, we still dine el fresco and mall shop beneath gossamer thin whispers of evaporated water, air provided by overhead sprinklers, all the time remaining with our skin parched linen dry and unlike the humid East with its permanent lacquered, sticky wetness and the odor of algae. And the days pasted from A/C home, to A/C car, to A/C Mall and seen from cooled rooms through sunny windows strikes one as serene and calm, clear and pleasant … and normal.
Gas $3.25 p/gas