Saturday, July 28, 2012

Extremes

It's time to compare weather patterns between Northern Nevada and Central Arizona.  When I first let people know I was moving to Arizona, they all said the same thing:  "You don't want to go there.  It's really hot there."

I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying, "And you think I don't know that?"

When you forfeit every penny you own to get out of Dodge, the last thing you want is people pointing out all the negatives of where you are heading.  But then even after I got to Arizona, the people who live here started telling me I was crazy for moving here.  I've heard comments along the lines of "This is as hot as hell gets," and "If I have to spend one more summer here, my brain is going to turn to mush."

I go to the supermarket at night to buy my groceries, and the cashiers gripe about how hot it is, and they truly look pained.  I talk to my neighbor over the fence, and he has to excuse himself after two minutes of conversation because the heat is getting to him and he's got to get back to the shade of his barn.

I've tried to just brave it out, because my argument in Arizona's defense is that I would much rather suffer through three months of extreme heat than nine months of extreme cold.  I know that once September gets here, I should, if everything goes according to plan, have nine months of pure bliss in the temperature department.

However, I admit that every day I think about making excuses to return to Northern Nevada just so that I can spend a few days in 70 to 80 degrees, as opposed to the 102 to 113 we've been having for the past two months here in Arizona.  A few years ago I flew to Arizona in February to escape the frigid temperatures in the Eastern Sierra, and I was in heaven for those few days, sunning myself in the hotel pool in Scottsdale.  Now I'm fantasizing about doing the opposite and fleeing to the Nevada mountains to cool down for a while.  I'm developing the habits of those snowbirds that everyone loves to hate.

I used to get annoyed with all the tourists who clogged our highways in the summer months in Northern Nevada, but now I understand.  They were trying to get some relief from the heat where they live.  It wasn't until I started getting old that I felt the need to search out relief from the excessive cold in the winter months and fly to Arizona.  Of course, it helped that my kids went to school here, so I had good reason to visit, even if I just saw them a few weeks before when they came home for winter break.

I called my old neighbor friend in Nevada, and she was complaining that it was 85 degrees the other day.  Apparently, the heat left such an impression on her that she was still complaining about it days later.  I kept my mouth shut.  I wasn't about to tell her how sometimes when I walk outside, my back feels like it is on fire, and sweat pours down my face and neck so profusely that I can't do anything outside without first wiping the sweat out of my eyes every five seconds so that I can see.

There's almost no point in taking a shower because you smell like a homeless person just minutes after toweling off.  There's no point in wearing make-up, because the sweat just washes it right off your face.  Same thing with deodorant and antiperspirant - gone as soon as you step outside.  I've never liked the way I look with my hair up, but I'm wearing it pulled back tight and in a bun now, because amazingly, not having hair laying heavy on your neck and blowing in your face is a huge, noticeable relief in Arizona.  Not wearing shoes is also a huge relief, but I only don't wear shoes when I'm sitting in my recliner with my feet up on the stool, well off the ground where scorpions and spiders roam.

You have to check your clothes and shoes before you put them on.  I put on my pajamas last week and felt a pinch on my belly button.  It's been itching ever since and the skin has been flaking off.  I have multiple sores that just don't want to heal.  Whatever bit me was probably too small to see, so I should have just shook everything out before putting it on.

The other day a banker kept me waiting for a long period of time while he met with the bank manager.  Normally, I would have been peeved for having so much of my time wasted, but realized that I didn't mind one bit, because the bank was comfortably air conditioned.  It was the first time in months where I felt a surge of energy, because I was sitting in a space that was actually less than 80 degrees.  I began contemplating where I would go next to enjoy the air conditioning of some business for a while longer before having to return home to my 82 degree house and my $400 electric bills.  I figure if the businesses around here can afford to pay for all that air conditioning, they may as well share it with me.

I've noticed that it is common to come across homeless people in the stores around here, and no one ever asks them to leave.  It's probably because everyone understands that it would be cruel to send people out into that heat, even if the person isn't a legitimate customer who is going to buy something or do business there.  Having been homeless myself once and having a brother who has been homeless as well, I appreciate the open-mindedness of the people around here.

I think back to my mountain winters and remember celebrating when the sun finally came out, only to celebrate when the next snowstorm came in, because I was tired of sloshing through all the mud.  I hated having to brush snow off my hay bales, push a wheelbarrow through thick snow, and break the ice in the water troughs with a pick axe.  I hated the high winds whipping my hair around in my face and having to wear earmuffs so that my eardrums didn't freeze and burst.  It felt like someone was sticking ice picks into my ears.  I remember not wanting to crawl out from under the cover of piles of blankets to get something to eat or go to the bathroom, because the cold was cutting me to the bone.  The worst part was that I couldn't ride my horses because it was an ice rink out there.

Now I find myself not being able to ride my horses because I can't stay outside for more than a few minutes without fainting.  We have this patio deck with one of the most gorgeous desert mountain views in the world, but we can't use it, because the heat literally makes us sick.  We have to protect ourselves by staying indoors with the air conditioning and fans.  There is so much work that needs to get done outside, and we are unable to do it beyond short bursts of energy in the wee hours of the morning at first light, and in the last few minutes at the end of the day before the sun sets.

I need to haul in some soft footing for the horse paddock and barn.  The poor horses have nothing soft to sleep on.  There's no point in laying down shavings, because the wind would just blow them away.  But before I can bring in the soft sand, I have to clear out most of the rocks.  That is incredibly slow going in this heat.  Each time I do go outside to pick up rocks, I usually end up picking up manure instead, because any concentration of manure results in a blanket of flies.  The flies are so thick that I can't inhale through my mouth without choking on them.  When I load up the wagon with manure, the flies follow, covering every square inch of the manure and sides of the wagon.  The horses open their mouths and have black teeth, because the flies just zoom in there and stick to their teeth.  It's crazy.  Too late now, but next year I'm buying Fly Predators.

One of the comments a potential home buyer said about my old house was that he didn't like horse properties, because they attract flies.  I thought, "No they don't."  The flies in Nevada were never bad.  I didn't notice any difference in the concentration of flies on a horse property vs. a non-horse property.  They were spread fairly even.  However, here in Arizona there is a definite correlation between horse properties and flies.  Now I feel guilty for bringing my horses here and ruining the neighborhood.  I had no idea it would get this bad.

When I fill the horses' water troughs, the water that comes out is hot and it stays hot the whole time.  You'd think at some point it would get cold, because it is being pulled from a water table that is deep in the earth.  When I brush my teeth, I brush them with hot water, because it takes too long to get it to cool down to just warm water.  There are a lot of little things that makes where one person lives different from where another person lives.
 
I'm discovering that in Arizona, there are just some things I have to live with, because some problems are simply unsolvable.  The wildlife is relentless.  Anything that can survive in these extreme temperatures is virtually indestructible.  I'm learning to read my surroundings based on which animals are or are not present.  If it's too quiet -- no quail and no bunnies -- it usually means there's a snake or a much larger predator around.  It's better to stay indoors.

If you leave your porch light on, you will find spiders, crickets, scorpions, and moths blanketing the walls around your doorway.  If you turn the porch light off at night, you will find toads all over your porch.  When we walk the dogs out at night to do their business, we carry a big stick, and we do see large animals appear as shadows out of bushes in the distance.  We have to growl and beat our stick to scare them off and protect our dogs.  There are threats around every corner.

I admit it.  I'm starting to miss the easy life of Northern Nevada.  I could just let my dogs out the backdoor and let them back in when they returned.  Our biggest worry was the skunks.  Coyotes came to the fence, but never jumped it.  Owls swooped down, but never succeeded in carrying the dogs away, because the bigger dogs usually protected the smaller dogs and chased the owls away.   I had more people problems there, but at least I could sleep at night knowing my animals were safe.

Oh yeah, and when I talked to my neighbor friend in Nevada, she told me that the neighbor who drove me nuts by grinding his tile and granite all day moved his business elsewhere.  He still lives in the house, but it's quiet.  I guess he finally took my complaints seriously and invested in a shop in an industrial zone.  I said it figures that the neighborhood would quiet down as soon as I moved out.

We've got plenty of quiet here in our new neighborhood in Arizona, but there's a different kind of stress caused by having to take every step with extreme caution in order to avoid the pain of stepping on a cactus ball or a scorpion or a rattlesnake.  You have to watch where you put your hands, test everything out by poking it with a stick first.  There's a lack of freedom in both places, but for different reasons.  In Northern Nevada it was the people who stole my freedom.  In Arizona, it's the wildlife.  I'm hoping things will settle down in the fall, but fall feels like it is a long wait away.

11 comments:

Grey Horse Matters said...

I think you'll get used to it. Many of my relatives lived in Phoenix. It was really hot during the summer months. And I remember by grandparents didn't have air conditioners but some kind of vent/fan thing on the roof. If you ask me it didn't work. I hate heat in any shape or form in Arizona or the East.

Anyway, it's still a little hot in Sept. and I remember Oct. as a rainy month. But the weather the rest of the year is gorgeous. My grandfather used to go out about 4 in the morning and take care of the yard when it was cooler. Of course, since they were retired they camped up in the White Mountains on the reservation during the summer months.

There was one thing I remember in some of the more rural area towns and in the barns. They had a really neat misting system to keep the people and horses cooler. Hang in there no place is perfect. We have had 90-100 degree temps with 80-90% humidity just to let you see how miserable you feel.

Katharine Swan said...

Grey Horse -- the thing on the roof was an evaporative cooler, a.k.a. swamp cooler. They run the air through wet fibers to cool it down, so it only works in very arid climates (and even there, doesn't work so well on humid days). I also don't think they don't work as well as air conditioning, but they work decently well, and are FAR more energy efficient to run -- they don't cost any more than it does to run any other fan.

NM -- hang in there! You'll be the envy of all of us for the other 9 months of the year. In the meantime -- just find more reasons to talk to bank managers! ;o)

Anonymous said...

I hate the heat!! Where I live the temperatures have been over 105 for close to two months. This may not be as bad as you are experiancing, but the area that I live is NEVER this hot. My horses are miserable (to the point they at times won't even eat their supper, which makes me anxious!)This also means no riding, which I don't mind, I would rather my horses stay healthy.
We also need rain so badly! I would love to even have a small sprinkle. Hay is almost impossible to get and this is also very stressful...

Stacey said...

Every place has it's good and bad points. I would take the heat any day over a cold winter. I hate snow. I'll go anywhere I have to, to stay out of it. I mean it's pretty damn stifling here right now with humidity but you won't here me complain because it sure won't be snowing down here in the winter!!!

You'll get used to your new home!

RiverBend Farm said...

Hang in there, girl! There is no place out there that is perfect. My gracious, when I look at the views you have there, I could sit inside all day and spend my mornings outside.

Mikey said...

Oh, this post made me LAUGH!! So true, so true. Yep, get used to wearing your hair up. I swear at least once a summer, I get the very strong urge to shave my whole head. Hair down is like wearing a mop.
As for the clothes, yes, I laid down today and a spider came out of my cleavage. Just a little spider, but still...
Had to laugh at the water. Yes, so true. Always warm in the summer, no matter what. Wait till you start shrinking clothes. Wade said to me "You always shrink my shirts, so I buy them extra big to account for that" and I told him "It's because in the summer there is no cold water, period!" and it's true. I shrink his shirts every year.
Your comment about the wildlife being relentless made me lol. I think that's why I like it here. It's a challenge, always.
It will get better. Misters on your porch are nice in the summer I've found. At least this year there's been some weather and clouds (and way more flies and mosquitos because of it). Last few years it was just blistering heat all summer. I'm loving these days. But yes, when fall and winter hit, it's going to be fantastic.
I hate to say it, but hey, at least it's a dry heat :)

Dreaming said...

I will have to admit that I don't know that I could take the heat in Phoenix. I used to visit my grandparents in Sedona - it got hot, but not as hot as the 'concrete jungle' and it always cooled at night. Does it cool down much where you are?
I am so convinced that there is no perfect place. If there was, we'd all be battling each other over every square inch. I guess we need to figure out our priorities and those things we just can't handle - for me, it's the hot, humid summers of the SE.
It is kinda fun to see how each area of the country differs from others, however! I enjoy reading your blog, and others, to see what's going on.

Crystal said...

Well I guess Arizona is more for winter than for summer. I have no desire to go there in those temps. We often get hot here, but nowhere near 113! But of course we have super cold winters. I guess 2 homes is the best bet.

How are the horses fairing, being Arabs I would think the hot doesn't bother them as much?

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Summer in AZ sounds so much like summers in SC, where we lived for 7 years about 8 years ago. No one went outside of their homes from May-September. They stayed indoors in the A/C and suffered the consequences of having astronomical electric bills. I was miserable in the swampy humidity, heat and thick mosquitoes that attacked as soon as you stepped outside day or night. I gained weight from all the sweet tea and friend food in the south, and not being able to go outdoors and be active.
I fell in love with Benson, AZ when the kids and I did a pet sitting job for 2 weeks there in May. Glorious weather and temps! I loved it so much I got John talking about possibly moving there!
So, when the owners of the pets asked us to come back down in late June, we were excited. Ugh! It was horrible! We about died in the heat! I vowed to never go to AZ during the summer and nixed all ideas of moving to AZ!
Now, my poor hubby is working outside in the nightmarish heat every day, on the burning hot tarmac of the Phoenix airport. I feel so bad for him.
When he flies home once a week for a couple days, he is exhausted from the heat and needs a couple days to decompress...so nothing ever gets done while he's home. But while he's home he appreciates being able to sleep with the windows open and be outside during the day without having to deal with such extreme heat.
Summer is bliss here in the mountains. We rarely ever get above 85F and we haven't had to set up our swamp cooler for the past 3 years. I want to be outside all the time and feel an urgency to fit in all of my horseback riding, camping and hiking before winter weather sets in around October.
Come December, you'll be in nirvana and loving AZ, while I'll be stuck indoors dealing with the cold, and snow and ice.

Hang in there,
~Lisa

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Thanks for all your comments. My goal is to compare where I used to live to where I live now, because I've only permanently moved twice in my life and the differences within one country are almost like being in completely different worlds. I write about this, because I can't do much with the horses right now and need something to write about.

The horses don't mind the heat much, but I do have to make several trips outside each day to apply fly spray and Calamine lotion, because they have so many bites that they are practically knocking down the fence itching. Bombay has rubbed off a huge chunk of his tail.

This is definitely not a dry heat, but I do understand the value of all this moisture. The thunderstorms are taking their toll in a way you wouldn't believe, which I will cover in my next post.

It has not been cooling down at nights much. It's usually in the upper 90's, so there's no benefit in opening windows. There's a ton of humidity. Not 90%, but more like 50%, which is surprising for this area, but it is a part of generating water to stay out of drought conditions.

I like hearing about such details from various locations around the country. Bloggers post a lot of pictures, so it's easy to say, "Wow! That's beautiful," but people who are moving somewhere really need to know what they are up against. I think those of us who have living in the same place most of our lives don't think anything of it because they've adapted. It's also easy to think that everyone else lives in the same circumstances, but our experiences are all very different.

achieve1dream said...

Yeah summer sucks but I way prefer heat over cold!!! I hate ice, mud, snow, cold rain, etc. Yuck! I'll even take fifty percent humidity. Here in the summer it gets over 100F with 90% humidity. When you walk outside it feels like you're drowning and sweat does nothing to keep you cool. It doesn't evaporate. It just sits there. Ugh! I'd still take 100F and 90% humidity over 30-40F and cold rain. I'm so dreading winter lol. Hang in there. You will definitely acclimate to a lot of it. :) It has to be better than the dang neighbors.