Tuesday, July 19, 2011


We had rain. Lots and lots of rain. Marcus saw a rainbow but no lightning and his parched ground has not received a drop of water all month. This is what it is like to live in Tucson in the summer.

You don't call Tucson your year-round home if you hate the heat.

Upon typing that, I thought of the one exception I know - my manicurist, who loves her husband who lives here with his extended family, but that's as far as she'll go. Along with the heat, she's not that crazy about his family, either. For some reason, she prefers the humidity and marginally lower temperatures of her native Viet Nam. Her OB gave her pills because she's not drinking enough water to keep her and her fetus well hydrated. I brought her a Camelback. Along with our purple Christina-Taylor bracelets and our turquoise Gabby bracelets Tucsonans sport another accessory - bottled water.

It's a different kind of dryness when the temperatures are well into the triple digits and the nearest body of water is at least a state away. You don't perspire, let alone sweat. You become one with the air as you feel your flesh begin to sizzle. Just a little. Unless you are G'ma, whose 88 years on this planet have depleted her body's supply of collagen and left her with the thinnest skin either she or I have ever seen. It's soft and transparent. We keep her out of the direct sun as much as possible. No one wants to watch her spontaneously combust.

There's absolutely no walking barefoot outside. Beyond the usual desert detritus of cactus spines and sharp stones, the ground itself, be it pavement or dirt, is hot. Egg frying hot. Make you dance on your tip-toes hot. Hot enough that a person with a gimpy leg does a very funny dance as she makes her way back from the mailbox. It's hard to skip when your psoas is stuck and your acetabula (the socket where the hip and the leg bone connect which lives beneath that psoas) is in no mood to cooperate, either.

It would have been funny if it hadn't hurt so much.

Strange things happen if you are foolish enough to venture outside for any length of time at all. I was ennervated after retrieving the newspaper this morning. Watering my pots must wait until the sun is out of the frame. I know they'll be happier if I douse them in the morning, but the thought of lugging the hose from the bib to the flowers is just overwhelming. I have the physical strength by now; it's the emotional piece that sends me scurrying to the air conditioned splendor beyond my front door. Sorry, vinca. Your time will come when the sun goes behind the house.

The Schnozz told me that it was 1010 outside his frame - and this was in the garage at 9am. The drive to physical therapy wasn't long enough to cool the interior; by the time I returned after my appointment the air was un-breathe-able..... I was just gasping as I typed it and remembered.

thanks for the image to cafepress.com
The ubiquitous cartoon is right - it is a dry heat and it sucks the flesh right off you.

A friend once wrote that she could feel the moisture being sucked right through her pores as she walked between classes at the UofA here in downtown Tucson. Dessicating was the word she used, and doesn't that even sound like the right word?

We slather on sunscreen, and no one complains, not even the kids. We become cranky when there are clouds in the sky, on those 10 or 15 days a year when the weather is not perfectly clear. We wonder when the monsoon will begin.*

It may not be perfect, but it's home.

*Here's my original rant on NWS and the monsoon:

The National Weather Service has decided to take charge of our monsoon season.  Up until 2008, the monsoon season began after 3 consecutive days with the dew point over 54.  In 2008, the National Weather Service decided that that was too much to deal with, and they set June 15th as the official start date.  Too bad that it's still dry as a bone.  Too bad that their own data shows that the average time for the start of the monsoon by the old standard, the one based on actual facts and science instead of bureaucratic comfort, was sometime in July.

It's just another example of our government at work.  The world is going to hell in a handbasket, and they are trying to control the weather.


  1. I find myself doing the same thing when watering the flowers - so much more comfortable in the evening. We are supposed to get up to 100 with high humidity later this week...stay cool and stretched out!

  2. For me, June is the month I hate the most to spend in Tucson. It was especially bad in the time before we had a/c and depended on swamp coolers. But one of my favorite months is August or used to be because of those monsoons. I absolutely loved them. Walk early in the morning one of my favorite trails and try to get back before the storms would parade up the valley. On a good one, I could open the living room door, lie on my couch, and watch as the lightning would hit the Tucson Mountains across the valley and the thunder booms right overhead seeming to shake the house even if they didn't. When it'd be over (for then), I'd enjoy the clouds with the light hitting them interesting ways-- absolutely some of the most beautiful skies I have ever seen. Next it was wait to find out which streets would not be okay to drive.

    Good monsoons storms meant out at Catalina State Park and many of the other trails there would be water in the previously dry washes. Sometimes the water would be so high that it would require wading to cross and end up higher than my thighs. Sabino might or might not be open due to even higher water and flash floods.

    But then I heard more recently the monsoons haven't come as faithfully and an August without monsoons would be like June... definitely not so good.

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  4. I was married on the top of Mount Lemmon in Lemmon Meadow on June 17th, 22 years ago. It was almost 90 degrees on top of the mountain. It was 117 degrees Fahrenheit down the mountain in Tucson. We had pink flamingo trail markers (that matched my 4th avenue find of a pink prom dress I wore as a wedding dress) that led to The Meadow and were positioned every bend in the trail so guests could find our wedding spot. It was gorgeous, campy, and uniquely Tucson. We used to take our daughter when she was little to watch, from a safe high ground, the first "flash" flood of the year roil along the Rillito tearing out the last season's attempt at vegetation in order to teach her the power of nature. Having grown up in the midwest in house that was hit by a small tornado while I was in it, I came to appreciate, as you do, Mother Nature's fierce passions. Isn't our world amazing? (& G'ma spontaneously combusting. I was rofl at that!)

  5. Sorry, I deleted my post 'cause I realized there were too many grammar mistakes.

    I would take the "dry" heat any day over the humidity. That's how it is in Washington today. Will be 100 by the end of the week with humidity. It's actually cloudy right now and I'm glad 'cause that means it will rain (crossing fingers). Whenever it rains and it is this hot, it always cools down.

    Enjoy the rain--especially if it isn't that frequent.

    Megan xxx

  6. She used the right word, "dessicating." It is a chemistry word simply meaning, "removal of water."
    Those little bags of white beads you find in new purses, shoes etc. are "dessicants." Sorry, I'm a science teacher!

    Coming from the Pacific Northwest, I LOVE storms. Love to sit on the porch and watch lightning and rain. The only bad time was when a tree branch crashed through the living room ceiling of our house in Seattle!

  7. I wonder if we have the same manicurist. Mine is carrying her 3rd child, while her 2 little ones are being cared for by her in-laws while she works on nails all day. If that is the case then this world is being smaller, as I find connections with those in Cyberspace

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