I’m an Arizona native and talking about Arizona’s weather is inevitable with anyone who lives somewhere else. “Oh, I couldn’t live in that kind of heat,” they’d say. If I’m honest, I always thought it was a little fun to take on the roll of someone who regularly survives an extreme climate. The truth is, though, I never understood how people were so quick to scoff at summers in Arizona, but would spend all winter hating the fact that they had to shovel snow. I don’t see the difference. I mean, whether it be heat, snow, rain, or volcanic ash from Mount St Helens or Mount Rainier (any day now), you’re going to stay indoors a few months out of the year no matter where you live.
However, I recently discovered that I had been missing something.
It wasn’t until I spent several days in Olympia, Washington in early July that I realized that I wasn’t seeing things from their point of view. If you took people, houses, restaurants, and shops from the Pacific Northwest and put them in the Phoenix area, they’d all die. It wouldn’t even take very long, they’d be meet their demise on day one, guaranteed.
So, when I was in Olympia, it was warm outside. Nothing crazy, low 90s — maybe 95 at the most. And the people there were miserably hot — overheated, sweating, suffering heat exhaustion. But, and this is the thing, people kept telling me, “Well, it’s hotter in Phoenix right now.” And it was then that I realized: No, it isn’t. Sure, it’s 110 degrees outside in Phoenix when it’s 90 in Olympia, but everyone in Phoenix knows when to stay indoors, has tinted car windows, drinks plenty of water, and — wait for it — has air conditioning. No one has air conditioning in Washington or Oregon — homes don’t, stores don’t, restaurants don’t. And of the ones who do, it’s only a single-box unit that cools one room. Houses there don’t even have vents or ducts in the ceiling.
Now when people from the Pacific Northwest tell me that they couldn’t live in such heat, I see things from their point of view. And I tell them, “Would you be surprised to learn that the daily high in Phoenix is actually 74 degrees all year round? … It’s true.”