When I first moved to Arizona at the end of 1990, all I knew was two seasons existed here: hot and damn hot.
That’s because I lived in Lake Havasu City, where in the summer of 1993 I experienced 126 degrees in the shade. I was packing for our move to Kingman, the garage doors were open and the thermometer was on the shaded wall.
Almost worse was the 94 degrees at 4 a.m. that summer, getting up for my commute to work.
It became a joke with my family, most of whom lived in Colorado at the time.
“What are you wearing and how hot is it?” my brother would ask.
“T-shirt and shorts — we’re looking at 70 degrees,” I replied during one January in Havasu.
Kingman was a bit better — about 10 degrees cooler, but much more wind. Then we came to Prescott — Arizona’s mile-high city – in 1996. I state that latter part because I grew up in the “mile-high city” of Denver.
Both have four seasons, unlike much of the rest of Arizona. Difference is, if Prescott receives 1 inch of snow or a dusting, Denver gets about 6 to 8 inches. I would often call family to give them a heads-up on what was coming.
In recent years my attention has been on seasons other than winter, spring, summer and fall. Think: fire season and the rainy season.
Fire season here is a balance of sorts – if we get snow and rain in the winter, fire season will be delayed until just before the monsoons come; if we get little to no precipitation, the fires come earlier.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We can suffer from fires at any time; evidence is the Prescott Valley Fire of a few weeks ago that tore through some 450 acres of grassland along the north side of Highway 89A. Actually, when I say “fire season,” I am referring to the time when we have to stop mowing, curtail use of chainsaws or welders, and be done with creating defensible space around our homes by trimming bushes and pulling weeds.
Monsoons — the word for “rainy season” — also comes with a mixed blessing. Rain, yes, sometimes a lot of it; lightning too, yes, the kind that starts wildfires.
We must always we vigilant not to start fires; keep tow chains properly attached (they can spark as you drive, igniting roadside grasses); not toss anything that can start a fire, such as cigarettes; keep properties trimmed; and be prepared to evacuate if necessary.
I would not want to live anywhere else. Honestly. At the same time, I suppose my time in Lake Havasu City trained my family to think everything here is a desert and hot.
They just couldn’t believe that one morning last week I drove off to a meeting and the thermometer said it was 13 degrees.
“Arizona? You’re kidding,” my dad said from his winter spot in Florida.
“Nope, we get cold here too.”
Now, who wants to come over and help cut weeds and chop firewood? The work is never done.
Tim Wiederaenders is the senior news editor for The Daily Courier and Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter @TWieds_editor. Reach him at 928-445-3333, ext. 2032, or firstname.lastname@example.org.