In this installment of her thoughts, our friend Ammo Grrrll asks: “How hot IS it?” She writes:
Many winter residents of Arizona are escapees from colder climes such as Canada, Michigan and Minnesota. Wonderful people in the main, they bring their money, amusing accents, and frugal tipping habits to our Dusty Little Village (DLV) and then they go home in late March or April, mercifully, before they can vote.
They swim in the community pool any day that is over 45 degrees and wear shorts and ill-advised tank tops all winter long. Is there any garment less attractive than the tank top, which mostly features armpits? Meanwhile native Arizonans are bundled up in scarves and down coats if the temperatures dip below a frigid 60°.
As a former Minnesotan, I am accustomed to having an Emergency Kit in my trunk, consisting of jumper cables, a shovel, a bag of sand or kitty litter, hand warmers, matches, flares, blankets, scarves, mittens, sleeping bags, and several granola bars that have to be unappealing enough not to be eaten in advance of an emergency. The recommended candy bars don’t stand a chance of even making it to the car, let alone an emergency.
So, my first complete summer in my DLV came as quite the shock. Our hottest day was 119°, a truly ridiculous temperature which elicits a constant strong desire to shut Heaven’s oven door. My neighbor, a charming native Texan who, not to be judgmental, may also be crazy, trimmed his tree for several hours on that day. I sat entombed in my house with all the shutters and blinds closed and the AC set to 80° – still 40 degrees cooler than outdoors! For those keeping score at home, 119° is nearly 21 degrees higher than body temperature. And your body cares.
Although 119° was our record last summer, we also had over 100 days in a row over 100°. The heat is brutal and absolutely relentless, almost a physical presence, like the cold in January up North. And fuggettabout it being a “dry” heat. It is often surprisingly humid. Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot??!!
You learn to put a little white towel in your car to cover your steering wheel. You buy one of those windshield covers, but I hardly ever use mine because of the difficulty of trying to fold it up again, like the damn roadmaps of yore. You are willing to park up to three blocks away in order to park in “the shade,” which is defined as any sliver of darkness by a twig. You shop for groceries at 5:00 a.m. at Bashas’, the only grocery store with an extended sun-cover over their parking lots, God bless ’em. I even have a little garden glove in my fanny-pack with which to touch metal, like my car door handle. I’m serious as a heart attack.
And now my Emergency Kit consists of several gallons of water, sunscreen, a white shirt and long white cotton pants, an umbrella, a kiddie pool, a wide-brimmed hat, and more water.
I love Arizona anyway. Did I ever mention the six scorpions I have killed in my house? We’ll save that for another day.