It comes upon us all of a sudden.
One day you're wearing short sleeves and crew socks with your sneakers. You roll down your car window and listen to the beat of the bass from the Jeep beside you. The breeze blows your hair into your eyes as you stroll down the driveway to retrieve the morning paper. The air feels warm and smells of spring.
The ground squirrels are out in full force, the babies frolicking on the paddles of the prickly pear cacti. Up and over they go, three of them, faster than the larger one (Mom, perhaps?) watching from the edge of their den. Carefully, one jumps onto a low lying branch of a palo verde. There are sharp thorns on those branches, but he doesn't seem to mind. He's creeping, belly low to the wood, nibbling on the teeny leaves trying to bloom. I can't stop staring.
The quail have hatched, and Mom and Dad are walking the little ones across the street. It's a residential neighborhood, with no access to anywhere but the neighborhood itself. Cars are few and far between. Still, Mom leads the way as Dad patrols the rear. Back and forth, head twitching, he doesn't leave the far side until the last chick is safe in my yard on the other side. The babies are three inches tall and their feet move so fast they are nothing but a blur. It's like watching Looney Tunes in real life.
The pool is warm enough to be inviting and the air is cool enough to encourage me to keep moving. I swim-kick-walk for an hour. It's not too hot and not too cold. It's just right.
It lasts about three weeks.
Then, one morning, you wake up to a new world. There's a blanket of heat weighing down your walk to the paper. The wind is blowing the air around, but it's not balmy nor refreshing. Rather, it's more opening-the-oven-to-see-how-the-turkey-is-doing. You can feel all the degrees on every inch of exposed skin.
Atop the saguaro, the doves are louder and the flowers are beginning to bud. The cacti don't grow arms until they've lived seventy or eighty or one hundred years; the flowers don't bloom until it's really really hot.
The snakes are out and about, too. The gym and the grocery store and the diner are full of people with stories, though. The dog, the gardener, the meter reader, the husband and son and babysitter have each had encounters which included shrieks, gasps and shovels. Rather than face the moral dilemma of killing a being who was on the land well before I ever thought of leaving Marin and joining him in the desert, I choose to avoid the situation entirely. I stay out of the yard in the middle of the day, leaving it to the cold blooded types to enjoy.
I sit inside, iced tea and Kindle close at hand, listening to the weatherman predict when we'll break into triple digits. That's when the ice melts in the dry river bed which passes for the Rillito, the river at the north edge of Tucson.
It's a desert thing.