Summer so far has been more like summer in the Verde Valley (about an hour and a half north of the greater Phoenix area) than in the Valley of the Sun. We barely started reaching 100 degrees in June rather than May. Now we're barely inching towards 110 as July is settling in. So there has still been a big enough difference between the highs and lows that there are parts of the day in which it is tolerable to be outdoors. It's the type of thing you don't want to complain about, but it's also so unusual that you have to comment on it.
So I've been able to visit the Desert Botanical Garden more than I usually do during summer. Sometimes I'll go months without visiting because even after sunset it's just too hot to want to be outside. Not so this year. This year I've been going in late morning, when it's hot but still under 100, which is tolerable. I go for a quick little walk to get some sun and some nature.
I'm seeing certain plants in bloom that I tend to miss just because I don't usually see them at this time of year.
And I'm getting the garden almost to myself. Only a few other people want to be there during summer, so I get the peace of solitude. The garden becomes a place for contemplation, a place where thoughts run through a stream of their own power.
Sometimes they're watering the plants and I can smell the wet desert. Monsoon season will be coming soon and there will be even more wet desert scent around. The smell of the wet desert is one of the most nostalgic scents, as is the scent of desert plants baked by the heat of the sun.
This is the land where my child's imagination ran free.
And so there is something wondrously enticing about an Arizona summer, especially one that is more Verde Valley than Valley of the Sun. My heart is home.