Bloom Where You’re Planted–it’ll do you good

Angled shot of a lawn cast with shadows of trees. The sunlight is filtering through the trees and there is a block wall in the far background, seen from the corner outward.

It took me years to get used to the natural rhythms of the Southwest after having grown up in the Pacific Northwest. Winter can feel like fall. “Indian Sumer” during October and November. Random cold spurts where the temperature drops from one day to the next by at least 20 degrees. 

Spring comes early here, frequently smacking us with 90 degree days and then dipping back into “cooler” temps. And then there’s everyone’s favorite, summer. Summer has never been my favorite season because I’ve always loved going back to school, fall clothing, fall festivities, etc. But here, summer has upped the ante to something I never would’ve imagined: 

It’s a test of human endurance and perseverance.

I’m talking National Geographic levels of hideousness, of unimaginable conditions (remember, relativity). I’ve been a comfortable city dweller my whole life, and can’t complain. I have not faced true adversity because I’ve always been fortunate enough to have a roof over my head and food in my belly. Clean water and clothing. Safety. No FEMA-level natural disasters. We may have had months and months and months of grey and week after week of nonstop rain in Seattle, but that was really the worst of it.

Your spirits and soul may have been soggy but you weren’t swept, blown, or carried away.

Moving from Seattle to Phoenix is akin to dropping a rain-loving slug into the desert, one accustomed to grey, rain, and mild temperatures. Almost as bad as tossing a vampire out into strong sunlight. Unlike either a slug or an old-school vampire, I can choose to change and adapt.

During the extreme summer months, I could be heard saying, “No person should really be living here.” It was darn near a motto of our early years here. It honestly felt unnatural–pumping water into the desert; building massive structures further and further into the desert; and all the golf courses! All sorts of things that made the summer worse. When we moved here in 1992, there were still many “ghost town” summers: those who could afford it spending a month or the entire summer somewhere else and masses being laid off by the tourist industry. Those workers moving to (literal) greener pastures. 

Endless summer months that bled into the so-called fall.

A decade or so ago, the city installed metal artwork around the North Central part of town. There was one installment that was the focus of my attention–it stands on either side of Central Avenue where there street is a kind of bridge under which the canal system runs. This couldn’t have been more perfect for my heat-induced, blazing sarcasm: these pillars looked like portals to an unfashionable hell with their unforgiving, coppery flames.

There was many a summer that felt like hell on earth.

Our second year here when our air conditioning went out. The record high of 119 degrees in Phoenix proper (128 degrees in the nearby Lake Havasu). The endless days of 110 degrees or greater (the longest stretch being 31 days in 2023). Things just get worse with the increasing concrete; decreasing nature; and the never-ending construction. The irony is how I’ve adjusted over the years. I hate all the construction (and the destruction to do the construction) and I don’t love the heat, but I tolerate it much better than I used to. I certainly don’t whine and complain like before (about the weather, let’s get real), and I enjoy Phoenix in its totality much more.

It just took a lot of doing with the dry heat mixed with some environmental and social concerns.

However, here’s the thing: I love Phoenix so much more than I realized, and had for a long time. I’m only fairly recently owning it, especially since I stand in its defense whereas the first decade I lived here I rarely did. It took me a long time to be comfortable with where I was planted (no matter how much I wanted it) and to actually allow myself to bloom. (That is another story altogether)

I still have moments of struggle with the weather, who doesn’t–no matter where you are.

However, I initially sat down to write about apricity. I really felt that word, but ended up here. I didn’t trust that some family member or friend was going to come at me with the How can you say that?! It’s always hot there! Strange how that is. Our winter weather still has a pleasant bite to it while being warm in the sun. My favorite combination–apricity, feeling the warmth of the sun in the winter. Both the cold and the warmth. Both/and. I suppose that I felt the need to pick up the pen-sword in defense of Arizona’s weather.

And that, my friends, is a good thing.

Why?

I’m finally blooming where I’ve found myself and not just found myself, but intentionally grown roots.

Give me a shoutout! 🤠

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