Learning to live in the desert in the summer

Ninety-nine degrees at 9pm just isn’t fun.

I’m spending the summer living in Sun City, Arizona to help out my mother as she recovers from valley fever. (You can read more about her on CaringBridge.)

My older brother and his wife moved to Phoenix about 30 years ago and the rest of the family has lived in the Phoenix area since 2000.

It took me about 10 minutes in my first visit to dislike Phoenix, vowing to never live here. I have not changed my mind. But visiting for a week in December and living here for a summer are very different birds.

Because I’m here so for so, I brought my dogs with me. Here are some of the lessons I have learned:

1. Walk early and stay on the sidewalks.
You have to walk before 9am or after 8pm. I arrived just in time for a week of temperatures over 100 degrees, so it’s already 80+ by 8am. And the black asphalt heats up quickly, making it unbearable to walk on foot the dogs.
2. Find the grassy areas
Yes, it’s the desert, but all these relocated Midwesterners still love grass. My guys, Frankie and Alvie, love it, too. They have not learned to poop on the landscaping rocks that are used instead of grass. But be carful about the grass, too — it’s not as soft as the grass in Iowa. The grass in Oklahoma City was also full of weeds with burrs. That is not fun for them or me.
3. Go to a grocery store close to home
How does anyone buy ice cream here? By the time you get outside, to the car and drive even five minutes to get home, anything that was cold is now lukewarm. You have to really plan the trips and make the groceries the last thing you do before heading back home
3a. Don’t grab a shopping cart from the parking lot
There’s probably a five second rule in the desert: anything left outside for more than five seconds is too hot to touch. Wait until you get inside to grab a cart, where it’s been cooled by the air conditioning.

I’m sure there are many lessons to be learned about living in the desert in the summer. I’ll keep you posted.


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