But I live in Arizona. For me, May is the cruelest month. When May arrives it is followed by four months of sun and heat, heat and sun. This time of year you can hear television weather announcers frantically flipping through their Thesauruses looking for another synonym for sunny… or hot… or sunny… or hot.
Anyone remember the Twilight Zone episode where this artist is painting a picture of a sun and the world is getting steadily hotter, and they all know that eventually it will get hot enough to kill everyone? Then you find out that it’s all a dream and the earth is actually getting colder, which will also kill them.
I think of that episode every May, with that painting of the sun taking over the canvas. I think of Frost’s poem Fire and Ice. How do you choose? Oh, I could move back to the Midwest, or to the East where the summers are long and lazy and warm but only rarely hot. I could live somewhere that has clouds cooling the sun on a regular basis all summer long. But then comes the winter. And ice.
Eight months of the year, the sun is my friend. Cool comfortable temperatures make living half-outdoors the norm, and you can plan picnics and leave windows and doors open, and pretty much assume that the weather will cooperate. But come May and you will pay.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a fair trade-off. You never have to shovel sun, or slip on it when walking down the sidewalk. There’s no need for sun-tires, or learning to turn into a sun skid when driving to keep control of your car. The only risk you take is burning your fingers on the steering wheel or seat-belt.
But May is the cruelest month, because you know those four hot months are still to come. Slowly the cool mornings and evenings will disappear as the sun takes over, and there’s not enough down time at night to cool things off anymore. You wake up at 5 am and it’s already in the upper 90’s, and it will only get hotter. And you start to believe that it will never, never, never, be cool again. Never.
And I think about that Twilight Zone episode as I down glass after glass of ice water… sometimes with a slice of lemon… round and yellow like the sun. Step outside. Is there a breeze? Yes, but when its temperature is at least 10 degrees hotter than your internal temperature breezes don’t refresh, only disappoint.
And this is where it gets really unfair. Those of us who grew up in the Midwest expect things to get better in September. After all, that’s when autumn starts, right? Wrong. September is just as hot as August. We don’t see fall temperatures until October. But it’s not unlike that week you get in February back East when temps hit the 50’s and you find yourself hoping that Spring really is here… until the next snowstorm. Your subconscious waits for those cooler days even as your brain says “not happening kid.”
But still, I like September. I like it because I know that in just a few weeks I’ll be reminded of why I choose to live in Arizona. And for eight whole months I will forget about summer, enjoy the sun, and practically live outside.
May on the other hand… you can have May.