Summer panic… and peace

Right about this time every year, there gets to be a tight feeling in my chest, which I have to fight for… oh, about five months.  It’s a bit like claustrophobia, but it’s more along the lines of heat-o-phobia.  Truly, I despise summer in the desert.  Some people really love the heat and thrive in it.  That, however, is not me.  I have worked hard to find things to appreciate about the place I live so that I’m not living with a crappy attitude and wishing to be elsewhere, half of my life.  My husband is a native, his dad is a native (which is REALLY rare;  the Phoenix area is a valley of transients)…  My mom and stepdad are here, my sister and brother-in-law are here, my niece is here… plus, we truly have the most amazing church where we both serve and are fed.  Not to mention my husband’s fabulous job that he’s been at for 19 years.  It’s highly unlikely that we’ll be leaving any time soon.  I have come to value the benefits to living here, apart from the weather, which, any time I really let myself think about it, I could pretty easily conjure up some tears.  I mean, I really despise summer in the desert.

But, I will not dwell on the endless 110°+ days;  I will, instead, continue to look for things that make the desert tolerable or even pleasant, and fight the heat-o-phobia and its accompanying tears which threaten to steal my peace.

Several things have made the transition into summer easier for me this year:

  1. There have only been a handful of 100° days so far.  Today, as I write, we have been the beneficiary of some low-pressure front, or something like that, and the temps are supposed to top out in the 70s.  Yesterday’s high was 80°.  I know that God doesn’t allow these sort of days solely for me, but I like to think of them as Him giving me a bit of hope and reprieve, letting me know that I can make it, and that it’s not ALL oven-like misery.
  2. I have been waking earlier.  Much earlier.  A couple of weeks ago, I started hiking a mountain — hill, more like it — that is nearby.  I wake at 5:30 a.m., am on the trail by 6:00, and home by about 7:15 just in time to help my hubby gather his lunch for the day, his to-go mug of coffee, and to kiss him goodbye.  The first day I did the early-morning hike, Martin said, “You could do that every day and it would be OK with me.”  Other than a spunky 2yo who sometimes wakes way too early and won’t stay in bed, and has the power to open the fridge and take out everything she can’t eat and have a surreptitious binge whilst Daddy is in the shower and Mommy is not yet home, it works really well.  And, I have the great feeling of becoming fit and healthier, as well as breathing in the cool, early morning air and being there to (almost) greet the sunrise.  I do a balloon-shaped trail that is about 3.6 miles, savoring the temperatures that are in the 60s or 70s…  It has been wonderful.  And, somehow, it’s SO MUCH EASIER for this night owl to roll out of bed at 5:30 for a hike, instead of, say, the stationary bike.
  3. I think ours is taller than this, and it's in bloom.

    Our backyard is now over five years old, and the pathetic little saplings have matured and grown into a lush (for the desert) green oasis.  This may not seem like much, but when I’m surrounded by hot, brown, and dry, it’s such a blessing to be able to walk into my back yard and breathe in a little bit o’ GREEN.  The trees are now climbable, and one of them even has a little rope swing attached.  We have two medium (but lovely) fruitless pistachio trees and two large tipu trees.  Wonderful.

  4. My garden.  Again, it’s only May, and I got it in a good month later than I should have, so who knows how fruitful it will actually be.  But for now, it’s medicine to my soul to push the dirt around and coax and nurture little plants into being.  Usually once a day (at least), I pull out my kneeling pad and just sit on it, looking at the garden.  Even when there’s nothing to do in it, I feel good looking at it either up close, or just glancing out the window while working in the kitchen.  Over the weekend, my hubby installed soaker tube for the irrigation and put up a little wire fence to keep our dog (and small children) from romping through the tender growth.  He proclaimed, “Now it looks like a real garden.”  I concur.

About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on May 10, 2011, in Arizona, Desert Gardening, Dogs, Encouragement, Get Fit!, Health, Hiking, Life in the Desert, Loving Nature!, Summer Plans, The Dear Hubby, Vineyard Phoenix. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. It was so fun to go hiking this morning with you! Thanks so much for inviting me and picking me up! Can’t wait to go again sometime!

  2. I feel the same sense of doom. Assembling a mental checklist of What to Do with Abigail All Summer, in addition to Reasons Not to Be Gloomy. Today I noticed the lovely row of ironwoods in bloom all along the street. Thought, “see, that’s a wonderful part of spummer here!” (spring + summer). On my summer todo list: invite ourselves over to your guys’ for a play date.

  3. Oh man I know this feeling. I had the same mentality when I lived in CA for 4 years. We rented a converted barn with no AC and no air flow that was painted the color of baby poop. BUT… I had a huge yard, an avacado tree, a neighborhood full of free range chickens (older largely hispanic area) etc. etc. There were a number of things to enjoy about it though so I tried to focus on them.

    We haven’t hit 70 yet here but I’m ALMOST able to plant my veggies.

    Honestly, I now get that suffocating feeling when I look at the busyness the summer is gearing up for. I don’t like an “agenda”. And all the family stuff we are expected at, but there is often much drama. Thank the Lord, that is getting better.

    • Where in CA was it, Jessie? I think, ideally, I would like to live along the central coast of CA. 🙂 I love it there… Or Northern CA. Or Oregon. Or Washington. Anywhere pretty much north of San Luis Obispo. 🙂 Even a ways inland. But, that’s not on our plate. So! We will bloom where we’re planted, eh??

      Summer. There are loads of families who have their kids do all sorts of activities and classes… we will probably do swimming lessons through the city, but that’s about it. Well, other than our family vacation. I have a number of things I need to accomplish (like REALLY CLEANING OUT all our school supplies & books, which are threatening to overwhelm my oldest son’s bedroom), but other than that, I don’t typically make our summers busy. My family and my husband’s family are pretty low-expectation. 🙂 So, we’re not expected to be anywhere, really… Part of our vacation, we’ll be visiting my husband’s mother, who works at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, but that’s not hard!!!!!

  4. The way you describe your feelings about summer is how I felt all winter, except that we I faced extreme cold and about 5 feet of snow, not extreme heat! I was stuck inside all day with two small children. Ilona wanted to play outside, but Felix was under a year and his snowsuit didn’t let him move easily enough and he didn’t like just sitting in the snow in it either (who would?). It was a rough winter and so many times I felt like I was going to lose it. When spring came (it took its own sweet time showing up… I thought it would never happen), I felt like I was coming alive again.

  5. Bloom where you are planted…that’s so true!

    No, it was none of those nice places. Whittier. Border of LA/Orange county. Everyone use to say “but there is everything within an hour.” Meaning the beach, the mountains and I’m not sure what else they meant. There were also helicopters over my house and four Wal Mart’s I could drive to in 10 min (I’m not saying that’s a good thing LOL). I hated it so bad! But besides all my whining, there is a good lesson to this story. I learned that you truly can make the most of anything and learn to appreciate what you DO have.

    The best inlaws in the world nearby. Easily accessible education (here I am not close enough to any college to finish doing night school etc.). Vegetable garden in winter. Neat parks. More….

    So, you can teach an old dog new tricks. Or should I say, a mean dog to play nice.

    I have a pretty high strung, needy, struggling mom. Everything is a production. Getting better because I’m taking the lead but it is work!

    On another note. SERIOUSLY! HOW do you clean out books. I was just contemplating the same thing but I can’t do it. I can never get rid of books. I need to go through the kid books but….

    • Jess, I don’t mean throw away books! I could never do that. But, I have boxes, bookcases, stacks of books, papers, old assignments, completed workbooks, “old” curriculum that we will never use again, etc. I need to sort it all out, decide what we’re going to keep and use and organize that better; decide what is salable (saleable?) and post it on; decide what needs to go into permanent storage; decide what needs to be taken out of “curriculum” books and placed in our “normal” bookcases, etc etc etc. I really needed to do that LAST summer, but did not get it all done. Now, I’m really motivated (and my son whose room it is wants me to be really motivated! He needs more space)…. 😀

      • Oh, gotcha. Still. Even when I need to I have terrible time even selling or donating. I can’t decide which one’s. Right now its all my kiddo picture book collection that I’m wanting to shrink.

        Another off subject topic…

        Have any of your kids reverted when a new baby came? My 4yr old (the easiest kid in the world to potty train and at like 2yrs barely) is back to wearing training pants after a week of accidents. The hard part is I think he might be sick or some allergy thing because it’s loose. But, I’ve taken back out all foods I could think of that have been a prob in past and can’t seem to identify a new allergy. Allergy? Virus? Reversion? Hubby wants me to take him to the doc but I don’t see how they can help. No fever. No other symptoms. ACK! Any ideas?

        • Jessie, I know even a few adults who get “loose stools” when they are stressed or set upon by some change. Or they throw up. Seriously. I think some people, in the temperament God gave them, are just prone to physical manifestations of inner turmoil. Know what I mean? Especially with no fever and no other symptoms. Even if externally, he seems to be handling his new baby brother, it could be stressing him out in a way that he probably couldn’t, at four years old, articulate… You’re just seeing it in his messes. 🙂

          • Thanks. My original feeling was it was food related. We’d had to eat out of the house last week. You know how allergies go. But my gut is that he is struggling, like you said. I sat him down today and had a “heart to heart” and hugged him and stuff. He is a dramatic little guy. Always happy and probably sanguine (craves the spot light). So I bet you are right. Helps to hear that adults can have that too. Helps to have another mom to ask. I know the doc this time is a waste (pun maybe a little bit intended). Okay I’m sticking with my intuition. Keeping foods safe and mildish and giving lots of hugs.

  6. Heidi, yes, yes, yes! I feel your pain. We are STILL waiting for spring though I think it is peeking it’s pretty head. I’ve got 5 little one’s and it stinks to deal with that (bundle up, loose gloves, come in screamining cause they are cold, big boys left them alone, baby hates to sit in it…) Yup! 🙂 Thank the Lord for seasons no matter where you are.

    And don’t worry, you are ahead of me if you only felt like you might loose it. I often did (do).

    • Haha, yeah, well, I do lose it pretty often too… I more meant that I felt like I was going to lose it PERMANENTLY a few times. 🙂

      Spring really has been so slow in coming this year, hasn’t it? And I’m willing to bet that I live a good 500 miles or so north of you.

  7. Heidi, you’d have to be in Canada then? There aren’t 500 mi north of me unless you are. I love it up there.

    We are 90mi S. of the Canadian border in Idaho Coeur d’Alene area.

    Bring on the SPRING! Raining today and still snowing on the mountain above me. 😦

  8. Yup. I live in Northern Ontario in a tiny town of about 1100 in the middle of nowhere. There is SO much space in Ontario, that most of the little towns up here are literally in the middle of nowhere. Most of our population is really concentrated in the south…. And I shouldn’t have bet that you lived 500 miles south of me, haha. I think you live about 1400 miles west of me, but only about 100 miles south.

    We had our last snowstorm about 3 weeks ago, and it was the third one in two weeks. SO depressing. We left for a week for a conference in southern Ontario with snow still all over the place and when we were driving back there was STILL snow all in the forest and I was so scared that there would still be snow on the ground in our yard too, but it was all gone, thank goodness.

    • Heidi, you should start a blog. You express yourself well, and you have an interesting life. 😀

      • I agree with Karen!

        BTW- I lived in Three Hills Alberta one winter. Similar climate I think.

        Well, I’ve had to bring spring indoors to me because outside it is refusing to cooperate. 🙂

        • Thanks Karen and Jess… Does that mean you would read it? Haha. I think that I would rather remain a little more anonymous and just leave interesting comments on other people’s blogs. I’m a pastor’s wife too, in only one of four churches in town (and the only evangelical one; Pentecostal), so I think it would be a bit risky to write a blog in a lot of ways, especially if someone in town were to find it and I had happened to write something a little questionable in some way. The thought HAS crossed my mind a few times, though.

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