"Me and this desert, baby, we get along... It's hot here/it's hot as hell here/swamp cooler and a cold beer/I ain't saying we got it made/but we're gettin' there..." -Kevin Pakulis
So here we stand, right on the cusp of summer. The days are getting hot - into the 90s - but the mornings and evenings are still cool. The sun rises early and shines its slanted light through our east-facing bedroom window. I love waking up to that, and to the cooing of the doves that serves as an overture to the coming trill of cicadas and the heat that burns the lungs with every breath. I love the sense that each morning, the earth is stoically preparing for yet another beating by the slowly arcing sun. Call me crazy, but I love summer in Tucson.
The desert summer is a great simplifier of things. Everything moves just enough to maintain its function, but no more. The small pleasures of a shady spot to sit or a glass of ice water trigger a physical sense of celebration. We wear fewer clothes and even less makeup, and sweat is a generally accepted accessory. No one cares if you are stinky and miserable, because we all are. Tucson is full of people who leave during the summer, but those of us who stay bear our burden proudly. We are the real Tucsonans.
Right now, the saguaros and prickly pear are beginning to blossom in their annual act of defiance against the coming June. The desert holds its breath, waiting for the heat to bear down. When it hits, we will fall into the familiar rhythm of summer days: of rising to greet the sun, and of sunsets all the more spectacular for the relief they bring. The city is quiet, as college students and snowbirds alike have cleared out; the rest of us wait along with the desert. We are all equally at the mercy of the earth, and are united in our knowledge of that and the smallness of ourselves. We will talk of the heat as if it is a person, malicious and stubborn. We will stand in the grocery store produce section for a few extra minutes, commiserating with strangers about how good it feels compared to the hell that is the outdoors. But the truth is, I think we like having this thing in common. And come July, we will allow ourselves to speak, and perchance to dream, of rain.