The heat is on.
Tomorrow is June. We’re set here in Phoenix to bust past the triple digits after a month of nineties that merely flirted with the hundreds. We were spoiled by that. But that little dalliance of sweet summertime romance is over. Reality is about to set in. Unrelenting, pounding, incessant, oppressive desert heat is about to clamp its fiery grip around our throats and lives.
Sounds melodramatic? Overdone? Silly? I invite you to visit for a week or two. Drive around with the AC in the car not working. Attempt a brisk morning walk with the sun peaking over the horizon, grill a few burgers in the blaze of the sunset, sweat a bit at midnight.
Oh, I know it’s not like Iraq, where my brother worked on an army base in an undisclosed location and the average daytime temperature was 124. No, it’s not that bad. But it’s not all that good either.
I wonder often why someone would settle in the desert. Of course there’s evidence all over the place in the desert southwest of native Americans settlements, canals, living spaces, communities, long before Columbus hit the coast of North America. When they had a choice of the entire landscape why here? Flat, hot, arid. I suppose it’s tough to have your enemy sneak up on you when there’s nothing but flat for a hundred miles in every direction.
I often wonder what we’re doing here. So does MSH.
Money brought us here. Family and friends keep us here.
But that’s not where I was going with this.
I meant to talk about my sunflowers.
Look at these babies! The cinderblock wall they’re planted next to is six feet tall. And they’ve rocketed into giant growing fortresses of greenery. The stems are bigger around than my hand can reach! They’re more like trees than flowers.
And these! Happy yellow faces of bright sunshine on a stalk, all lined up and waving at me every time I glance out the back window.
It’s like sunshine, compacted into a flower. Instead of the burning, gaseous orb of hydrogen and helium, with its eye-squinting, brow beating heat and light, it’s condensed itself into these massive, delicate, powerful bursts of golden petals.
An ironic gift, held out to somehow compensate for the meanness of the hundred plus temperatures and earth parching relentlessness of the next four months.
I’ll take it. I’ll take whatever relief and wonder I can get when it’s this hot.
It’s like being on the receiving end of a repeating phone message to a busy office where instead of music you hear, “Please enjoy the flowers while you wait.”
Sunflowers are my favourite flower and I love that description “sunshine on a stalk”.