In Phoenix, September starts SUMMER!!! That’s boldface, capital letters and three exclamation marks.
Phoenix is different, you see. Our year has seven, not four, seasons. Our seasons are fall, winter, spring, summer, Summer, SUMMER and SUMMER!!!
SUMMER!!! is when the temperature is above 105 and often reaches 115.
SUMMER!!! is when we get those dust and thunderstorms. Dust coats your newly washed car and blows through cracks around doors and windows. And thunderstorms circulate patio umbrellas around the neighborhood leaving you without power for air conditioning. Even the humidity goes crazy and rockets up to 30 even 35% sometimes.
But there are some compensations that make living in Phoenix worthwhile.
First, we really enjoy spring. That’s March and April and, if the few winter sprinkles fell at the right time and in the right amounts, the desert will bloom. In a good year, it will surpass the ability of 10 megapixel digital photography and possibly even the limits of HD tilt-shift video. Nature can be truly awesome to behold!
And while you may think June (summer) and July (Summer) are hot, as long as you don’t step out of the pool for too long while turning the burgers and dogs on the grill, it’s actually very nice.
But, I have to confess, August (SUMMER) is starting to get pretty hot, all right. You’ll be running the spray to try and keep the pool usable but, frankly, it’s a losing battle. Shopping is done in bulk and only after the sun goes down, and you’ll hear the neighbor starting his lawn mower at 5:30 so he can be done by 7:00AM.
Then, September hits.
For that season, we survive off stockpiled food that is carefully rationed out. With drapes closed against the raging inferno outside, we huddle in the merciful, indoor air conditioned darkness. Young, old, weak and strong shelter together and await the passing of the season.
If supplies run low before that season is done, the strongest may venture out in the night for emergency rations where, in horror at the sight, they may witness desiccated and blistered tourists shambling about. Sucked in by the desperate and near-empty hotels, there is nothing anyone can do now for them now. Their fate is sealed.
Saddened but newly resolved by what he has seen, the shopper will return home to his family well before dawn with the carefully gathered survival supplies. Before re-entering the conclave, a quick flashlight check of the pool thermometer will probably reveal that the water is still over 100 degrees, almost hot enough to cook a New England boiled dinner. So, it’s back into the sheltering cave of air conditioned darkness of the clan’s “den” that he returns to await the end of September.
And for those who learned and assiduously practiced the hard realities of desert hibernation, they will awaken when September ends. Thinned by their ordeal but rested and ready for fall, they will emerge to the cooler days of October and November.
They are the survivors.
Strengthened with fresh food and water, Phoenicians will celebrate life. Barbeques will glow late into the night again. Gas stations will be festooned with multicolored flags as families fill-up SUVs with fuel, 12 packs, ice and Styrofoam coolers and head for the rivers now flowing with runoff from overfilled reservoirs. There, they will rent fat, overinflated inner tubes and rope together people, beer and chips before floating off drinking, joking and relieving themselves, butt down in the center of the tube, wherever the current may flow.
And then finally, we will finish out the year with our winter season. It begins in December and runs through January and February. For that longest of our seven seasons that bridges one year into another, the constant but gentle hiss of LP gas will remind us that the heated spa is no more than a few, butt-naked steps from the back door, its warm embrace reminiscent of last season and floating too close to another’s inner tube at an inopportune moment.
But today is the first day of September.
It is now SUMMER!!!
We’re out’a here.