Dead Alley

Going outside in the summer time here is not fun.  Walking 4 miles every morning is torture.  More often than not, the temperature is close to 90 – and that’s at 6:00 in the morning – and the humidity is usually hovering around 40 percent.  I know, I know, to the rest of the country and world, 40 percent humidity is nothing.  But to us desert dwellers, who are acclimated to 8 or 12 percent, 40 is Rain Forest humid.

As Bill and I staggered back into the house after an August morning walk, Mom glanced over at us, stopped nibbling her granola bar and gave us a little wave.  Bill continued through the house and I stopped by Mom’s end table to scoop up her empty yogurt container and wait for the standard greeting she gave me every single morning throughout the summer.

“Is it hot out?”

I wiped the drops of sweat that had fallen from my face and neck off of the top of the end table and gave her the same answer I give her every single morning throughout the summer.

“Yes, it’s hot.”

As I dumped the empty yogurt container into the kitchen trash can, she called out, “It’s 89!”

“What’s 89?” I yelled back as I put her spoon into the dishwasher.

“The temperature outside.  It’s 89.”

I walked into the Arizona Room and looked at our weather station.  The temperature was 95 and the humidity was 39 and the barometric pressure was 56 and rising.  I wandered back into the living room and announced the local weather stats to Mom then started back toward the office.

“That’s because we’re in the west,” she offered.

I stopped and turned to look back at her as she took a delicate sip of orange juice.

“It’s hotter here because we’re on the west side,” she explained.  “It’s always hotter in the west.”

“And why do you suppose that is,” I asked, wiping sweat droplets out of my eyes.

“Because the sun goes down in the west and it gets hotter as the day goes by and so it’s hotter here because we’re in the west part of the valley,” she replied.  “Plus we’re closer to the desert in the west than they are in the east,” she concluded with a shrug.

“Mom, the whole valley is a desert,” I argued.  “In fact half of the whole state is a desert.”

“Yes, I know that,” she said with an impatient sigh.  “But we’re closer to most of the desert that the east side is.  Like the California part.”

“California part?”

Yes, you know.  The Dead Alley desert.”

“Oh, well okay then.  I forgot about the California part and Dead Alley.  That explains everything.”

“I know,” she said with a smile.  “The geology part is just as important as the weather part.”

“Do you mean geography?”

“That too,” she concluded, picking up the TV remote and turning the volume up.  “It’s all tied together.”



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