Winter fatigue gets all the attention and airtime.
Summer fatigue — heat fatigue — just as real.
This is my first full summer as a resident of Phoenix, AZ — aka the Valley of the Sun. (Makes the hideously crowded Los Angeles-of-the-Southwest sound sooo much nicer!)
Heat here starts early and runs long … from June to October. Four months of Triple Digit days that begin at a “cool” 100 F (37.7 C) — official entry into the triple digits always garners headlines and elicits dread for what’s ahead — then escalate into 115-120 F (46.1-48.8). Not uncommon for it to be 100 F (37.7 C) at midnight.
“But it’s a dry heat.”
The running line here. The lack of humidity has its challenges. Still, Phoenix is an oven. Creatures bake. You bake. And yup, egg-frying contests on sidewalks ain’t a rumor.
Summer relief comes intermittently with the monsoons. Most people think Arizona’s just hot dry desert. SOOOOOOOO not the case!
Not only does the state have VERY varied climates — from Snow Country to the north to Brutal Desert to the south — but it receives very powerful and dramatic monsoons between, officially, June-September — though in practice more like July and August.
Except this year. “Nonsoons” they’re being called. Virtually no monsoon activity. We are in a heap of trouble.
My first summer in Phoenix has been tough. Educational. Memorable — as most firsts are. I want to capture the highlights while they’re blazing in my face.
I’m Tired of Blazing Blue Skies
Sure, clear bright blue sunny skies are great — ESPECIALLY if you’ve lived under miserable constant gray damp cold sunless skies of the Pacific Northwest. Every day I see the sun — even in excess — I’m reminded of where I’ve been and am in gratitude to no longer be there.
Still. Imagine a humongous blue canvas hanging in your home for months on end. Sure, it’s a pretty blue but after a while it feels flat, redundant. My eyes, my mind hunger for visual stimulation, for something OTHER than Blue Sunny Sameness.
True, this Sameness is exacerbated by the absence of monsoons, their incredible cloud formations, torrential downpours, lightning, haboobs (dust storms). What clouds we have seen pass too quickly. It’s Back to Blue. The upbeat version of “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse but still depressing in its way.
Heat is Exhausting
I’m of European Nordic heritage. I’m not built for this. I’m wired for cold — DRY, please! I’m not in my element. It’s simple Biological Dissonance.
I‘m Tired of Living in Containers
Take my home for starters. A tiny studio with two windows. One faces east — thus is bathed by (hot) morning light — and the other west — thus is subject to summer blaze.
Thermal blackouts are imperative to keep out the natural elements: the heat and sun … and keep in the cool of air-conditioning.
I can’t remember the last time I got to open my curtains and windows! Oh wait! Like June!
I am ALL ABOUT natural light and fresh air. I REALLY need both more than most people. I’ve ticked off more than one past roommate by opening a window in cool weather!
Having to keep my studio sealed up is tantamount to a prison cell. My brain cells rebel. My mood shifts to DEPRESSIVE. To combat that, I often crack a curtain to allow in some natural rays — at the expense of losing cooled air and related cost.
I’m Tired of Life in An Airplane Cabin
EVERYWHERE you go in Phoenix is air-conditioned (sometimes to the Arctic Zone, which presents its own issues).
You’re breathing recycled manufactured air everywhere for months on end as you bounce from one air-conditioned space to the next. From your home to your car. Your car to your workplace to store to cafe to fill-in-the-blank.
Sharply contrasting life in the airplane cabins is the Space Between — the Phoenix Furnace. You do not linger there. In fact, you’d RUN through it to the closest air-conditioned space if only you could! Truth is, the HOT forces you to move slowly if you can move at all. The heat does not fuel your zip. It zaps it.
Some people fare better than others but every body is affected. Articles on surviving the heat abound. Excessive Heat Warnings are a norm. People die from it. Phoenix heat is as deadly as winter freezes …. just not talked about or appreciated outside the region.
Point is: Air-conditioning is ubiquitous because it has to be. It enables us creatures to survive. Nonetheless, it’s artificial recycled air — an airplane cabin — for months. My body, my lungs yearn for natural air. But I sure as hell ain’t gonna go hang around outside in 115 (46.1 C) for it! It’s an effort just getting from my studio to my car!
Excessive Heat Zaps My Will
This is somewhat surprising. I live in far too much solitude in a tiny studio. Whether it’s to the gym or nearby favorite craft brewery, I need to get out, meet people, TALK with humans, engage beyond the confinements of four walls exacerbated by the dampening effects of thermal curtains, closed windows, the constant running of a fan and air con.
It’s all I can do to move.
Even as I know my well-being and health require getting out, CONSIDERABLE effort is required to lift myself up, face the blast of the furnace, drive with air-con blasting and deliver myself into another air-conditioned spot
The mystery is that even when I’m indoors, not directly in the heat, I still feel the heat. It zaps my will. Sucks the life outta me. Frighteningly, it prods me toward an eternal siesta from which I’d never awaken.
Climate Control is Costly
Air-conditioning strains the budget. I keep my space at 78-79 F (25.5-26.1 C) — which many folks consider rather warm. I’m tough — definitely not a Whining Snowflake Millennial!! — and will endure discomfort to cut costs. That said, I’m ready for my electric bill to return to a reasonable level. Really ready.
In sum …
The extended Phoenix summer is at the halfway point. Come mid-October generally, this excessive oppressive heat lifts and the best, most temperate time — envied by America’s wintery regions! — begins.
Nuthin’s free in life. We PAY for pleasant winters with brutal summers.
It’s official. I’ve got Heat Fatigue.
The will to endure has been replaced by the need for it to be over. Think of it like the holidays. You feast on carbs, meals, sweets, drinks. Come January, you’re beyond ready for regular food in moderate amounts!
Heat Fatigue deserves equal attention and airtime given to Winter Fatigue.
Perhaps it doesn’t get its fair share ’cause everyone’s too zapped to speak and write! (haha)