Welcome to my page of quotations about the seasons in Arizona. Well, in Phoenix we air‑quote “seasons” because there’s really only summer and “not‑too‑hot,” and then your occasional frigid night in “winter.” But in Northern Arizona and some other areas they do get the real deal. Jealous!
There are no clearly defined seasons in South Alabama; summer drifts into autumn, and autumn is sometimes never followed by winter, but turns to a days-old spring that melts into summer again. That fall was a long one, hardly cool enough for a light jacket. ~Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1960 [Phoenix, too!
Desert springtime, with flowers popping up all over the place, trees leafing out, streams gushing down from the mountains. Great time of year for hiking, camping, exploring, sleeping under the new moon and the old stars. At dawn and at evening we hear the coyotes howling with excitement — mating season. ~Edward Abbey (1927–1989)
November, in the desert, is a time
When heat has fled the night.
When days are warm, but not too warm to climb
A mountain’s rugged height…
~Mildred Breedlove, “November Is A Time,” in Arizona Highways, November 1970
Lucy did not know what she yearned for, she did not know why the desert called to her, she did not know in what it resembled her spirit, but she did know that these three feelings were as one, deep in her heart. For ten years, every day of her life, she had watched this desert scene, and never had there been an hour that it was not different, yet the same. Ten years — and she grew up watching, feeling — till from the desert’s thousand moods she assimilated its nature, loved her bonds, and could never have been happy away from the open, the color, the freedom, the wildness…
Hers always the desert seasons: the shrill, icy blast, the intense cold, the steely skies, the fading snows; the gray old sage and the bleached grass under the pall of the spring sand-storms; the hot furnace breath of summer, with its magnificent cloud pageants in the sky, with the black tempests hanging here and there over the peaks, dark veils floating down and rainbows everywhere, and the lacy waterfalls upon the glistening cliffs and the thunder of the red floods; and the glorious golden autumn when it was always afternoon and time stood still! ~Zane Grey, Wildfire, 1916
Welcome to Arizona, where summer spends the winter — and hell spends the summer. ~Local saying, modified from a booster slogan in the 1930s
All other seasons in Phoenix are just hyphenated summers: spring-summer, autumn-summer, winter-summer. ~Terri Guillemets
East away from the Sierras, south from Panamint and Amargosa, east and south many an uncounted mile, is the Country of Lost Borders… Desert is the name it wears upon the map… Here are the long heavy winds and breathless calms on the tilted mesas where dust devils dance, whirling up into a wide, pale sky. Here you have no rain when all the earth cries for it, or quick downpours called cloud bursts for violence… This is the country of three seasons. From June on to November it lies hot, still, and unbearable… then on until April, chill, quiescent, drinking its scant rain and scanter snows; from April to the hot season again, blossoming, radiant, and seductive… The desert floras shame us with their cheerful adaptations to the seasonal limitations. Their whole duty is to flower and fruit, and they do it hardly, or with tropical luxuriance, as the rain admits. ~Mary Austin, “A Land of Little Rain,” in The Atlantic Monthly, January 1903
In the desert, the slow quiet entrance of autumn is like breathing a sigh of relief — exhaling all the hot, stifling air built up over summer. ~Terri Guillemets
Rocks protruding from the earth
Cactus proud and high
Gentle flowers at their feet
Peaks reaching for the sky.
A picture painted by the hand
Of seasons come and gone
This artful unveiling
Each spring goes on and on.
~Dorothy L. Whitaker, “Unveiling,” in Arizona Highways, July 1970
September… in Phoenix… still has a lot of summer left in it. ~@cityofphoenixaz, Instagram post, 2019
Arizona is a state generously endowed with spectacular scenic beauty, gorgeous sunsets, lavishly colored landscapes and impressive cloud formations. There are many who contend, however, the state’s most prized and cherished gems of beauty are the cactus blossoms which are found in practically every part of the state. Even the ugliest cactus plant becomes a thing of radiant beauty when it comes under the miracle touch of spring. ~Raymond Carlson, “The Fairest Flowers of Them All,” Arizona Highways, February 1965
Here on this arid spread of golden sand,
One never sees a violet nor rose;
But hardy squatters rooted to the land,
Unmindful of inferno’s wind that blows.
Proud, lanky ocotillas, sun caressed;
In spring the patriarchs keep watchful eye
When their progeny wave red bandannas
And boldly flirt with every passer-by.
~Margaret Woodin, “Desert Flirtation,” in Arizona Highways, September 1970
In the weeks following the winter rains the desert literally springs to life as nature, in her inimitable creative genius, transposes the desert into a tapestry of panoramic beauty. Cactus blossoms and desert flowers burst forth with broad, bold brush strokes of colors upon the landscape. The sunscreenlike paloverde trees explode with a profusion of gold, and the ironwood tree complements its gray-green leaves with a crown of beautiful pale violet blossoms. The flaming red torches atop the ocotillo, and the yucca with its magnificent white candelabra dispel the myth held by some that the desert is nothing but an intractable, barren, forbidding sea of inhospitableness. They will bloom only briefly, for the long, hot summer is not far behind and the hardy desert flora will have to regroup their resources or “tighten up their belts” so to speak, and through the cycles of change in the changeless land, they will cling to life, fighting for survival every day of their existence. ~Marshall Trimble, Arizona: A Panoramic History of a Frontier State, 1977
Winter in ‘Zona is springtime
Spring is summer askew
Summer is torturous hellfire
Autumn is summer part II
~Terri Guillemets, “Spring sun,” 1993
You know you live in Phoenix when the four seasons are: tolerable, hot, really hot, and are you freakin’ kidding me?! ~Author unknown