Cabin Fever



Taken in the White Mountains in July 2014. (Or maybe 2013?)

Here in the desert late July is the equivalent of late February in parts on the country that have all four seasons. While I technically leave the house every day (to swim and walk the dog) I am not enjoying being outdoors much. I have the desert version of cabin fever.

We have moved our swimming to early evening for as long as the monsoons allow. At 5:00p it is still 100° but the sun is sinking, the rays at a less harsh angle. And so I swim for an hour and then sit under the patio for 5 to 10 minutes to dry off before the heat once again sends me inside. That and the need to make some sort of dinner.

The afternoons drag long and hot.  Now I truly understand the concept of the siesta!

My son and I have done some of our summer outings, but only the ones that involve being indoors. We spent one afternoon at Lowe’s, my son picking out light fixtures, appliances and faucets for his dream home. We have been to the used book store and several programs at the library.  Next week we will paint ceramics on base.

I miss our usual July camping trip in the mountains for a week. I long to be outside under a cool canopy of trees listening to the babble of a creek.  I miss simply being outside and not sweating. My evenings on the “front porch swing” are on hiatus for the moment.  For me it is harder to stay indoors during the summer than it ever was during my Northern winters.

Today we are mixing things up a bit by heading to Phoenix.  We will go to the really good used clothing store for kids and then to a baseball game.  Inside. Yes, the Arizona Diamondbacks play indoors, sort of.  They have the option of closing the stadium  all up and turning the a/c on.  Or they can open the roof and/or giant windows.  It is extremely odd to me to watch baseball in an air-conditioned building.  While understandable it still feels wrong, like the game has been twisted into something too comfortable and it no longer feels like real baseball.

Soon the afternoon rains (or at least rumbles of thunder) will start and our routines will change again.  Storminess will be a welcome change , though no help in getting outdoors more.  If anything it makes getting a swim in more difficult.  But it is easier somehow to be inside reading a book or watching an old movie with rain and wind lashing about. Being inside during a storm makes sense in a way that being inside during a sunny summer afternoon doesn’t.

Here are pictures of the sky as I write this Monday afternoon about 3:00p:


The sun pours down from a bowl of blue completely ringed by storm clouds.



To the North and the Catalina Mountains.


To the South.



To the West.


To the East.

The wind is picking up and the distant rumbles of thunder are getting closer.  Rain is falling in the mountains.

Happy July Thunderstorms!

Failure to Adapt

Closing the dining room curtains in the late afternoon to keep the sun out and the room cooler, pure genius. Too bad it took me 5 years to think to do it. I didn’t even think about the curtains when I looked at blocking the sunlight coming in the top arch: summer sunshine in the southwest.  I also brought our tower fan downstairs and circulating the air makes it feel cooler on the first floor.  Now I am wondering what other insanely easy things I could be doing to make  life more pleasant.

I am tired of sweating.  It has been “summer” since April.  School has been in session for a few weeks now.  There is supposed to be a hint of fall in the air, a little coolness in the morning.  No relief yet and it could be another month before the weather changes.   Humidity is replacing a little of the heat which doesn’t entice me outdoors at all.  I walk the dog around the block and tell him he can only stop and sniff where there is shade.  August and September are tough months to get through in the southwest, rather like February and March in other parts of the country.

I admit I have not embraced the desert life.  I know there are people who love the heat and think cacti are beautiful and don’t mind avoiding a rattlesnake.  I am very happy for those people.  Right now I am not so happy for me.

I have lived in many places over the last 30 some years and always found things to like and fun stuff to do.  But I am struggling here in Tucson.  I pine for a front porch, a shady backyard and four true seasons.  I long for rain that actually makes the air feel cool.  The weather makes it tough to get outdoors for a good six months out of the year.  Six consecutive months.  Up north you have days when you don’t really want to leave the house but they are days, not months.  If it is thirty degrees and lightly snowing I would love going out for a walk.  Here the sun has been broiling with temps near or over a 100 degrees for months.  Months.

I think I am getting “cabin fever”.  We don’t take any trips this time of year because we want E to be able to adjust to his school routine and focus on regular bed and wake up times.

I have tried to  focus on some positives of living here:  Pima County has an excellent library system.  (But I have to leave the house to use it.)  We don’t have to winterize our trailer so we can escape Tucson go camping  year round.  My husband has a good job that he really likes and enables me to be a full-time stay at home mom.  When I am feeling particularly miserable that last one is what I focus on.  I could move back to Montana or New York but what havoc would that wreak on my son’s life?  I love my son way too much to do that to our family.

I remind myself that I am making a choice to put my son and our family ahead of my own location happiness.  It is not always an easy decision to live with.  Sometimes I have to let myself be a little sad.  But then I focus on how much I love my son and what a great childhood he is having.  I am happy and grateful that I can make choices.

And always I remember, this is my choice for right now.

P.S.  I have embraced the  coolness of the dining room in the afternoon, relieved to find it is not gloomy at all with the curtains closed.

Still bright but with the heat of the sun blocked.

How do you survive six months of summer sun and blistering heat?