Whenever friends in northern climes ask me how I can possibly handle the desert summers, I tell them that I handle it the same way they handle winter: as the sort of harsh season that you partly acclimate to, partly endure, and partly find beautiful and compelling.

But I was thinking today about another way the desert summer is like northern winter: cabin fever.

Our summer monsoons have kicked in, which means are evenings can be glorious and electric–but the days are often sticky and hot and heavy, in a way those first scouring, drier days of summer aren’t. People stay indoors too much, grump to each other about how hot hot hot it is when they have to go outdoors, even when we know we’ve gotten through hotter days than these with far better humor.

It’s the time of year when tempers begin to fray, when we feel less patient with each other and with the larger world. When the evening thunderstorms come, they don’t just break the heat; they break the electric tension that seems to build up in people through the day.

It’s the time of year when, even as we enjoy those thunderstorms, we begin looking toward the dry, clear days of autumn, the same way that even those who love northern winters begin looking toward spring–look toward the season even though we know we still have a couple months to go.

July just might be the desert version of February. Except that unlike February, it really is one of the longest months of the year.

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