While most of the country celebrates the end of summer with Labor Day cookouts and long-weekend road trips, Valley residents merely steel themselves for more of the same: daily triple-digit highs.
In the Sonoran Desert, fall exists only in the abstract, a thing one can drive to Flagstaff for, or experience vicariously through Midwestern family members' Facebook updates and Instagram posts. But in real life, on Oct. 1, the daily high in Phoenix averages 92 degrees. By early November, it's still 79.
For some, the lack of fall is a disappointment. For others, it's more like grief.
'Disappointment is when you say a few swear words about (the heat) and go on about your day. But you also hear people say, 'I can't do this anymore. I just can't,' ' said Ken Yeager, a professor and psychiatrist at Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University. 'That is beyond momentary disappointment.
'People are grieving the loss of traditions they developed in the Midwest or Northeast,' said Yeager. 'But they have the opportunity to form new traditions. And sometimes people don't do that. They get stuck in the rut and that then becomes depression.'
In 1969, American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced the idea of five stages of grief in her book 'On Death and Dying.' They were: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Experts say this model can be a practical way to explore the loss of seasonal expectations.
Fashion expert Stella Bugbee lives in New York City and understands seasonal fashion denial.
Bugbee, editorial director of New York magazine's fashion site The Cut, talks about never-ending winters that drive her to rashly cut her hair or buy a too-expensive bag, just for the relief of change.
But she's a pragmatist, dressing only for the weather just outside her apartment.
'And sometimes it's super hard to do and frustrating.'
When it comes to other people, however, Bugbee is open-minded about dressing seasonally.
'I'm a big believer that you should do what you want to do, regardless of what anyone else thinks. You should push it as far as you want, with the exception of chafing and bodily harm.
'I understand. I have had things in my closet, and I want to push the season, too. A lot of it is the suspension of reality.'
In Phoenix, this suspension of reality, aka denial, looks like knee-high boots in September, sweaters during the day in October.
'Whatever makes you happy,' Bugbee said. 'That's what you should wear.'
There's something maddening about picking up a perfect pumpkin only to find it's hot to the touch and squishy from being outside in the sun.
It has to do with the gap between expectation and reality, Yeager said.
A person thinks: 'This trip to the pumpkin patch will be like the ones we had at home in Illinois.' But the reality is that a bunch of specially set-up hay bales shed all over the school parking lot, and tiny shards of dried alfalfa cling to sweaty skin in a way that's exasperating and itchy.
'Your senses aren't fooled,' Yeager said. 'It's 87 degrees; there's no autumn crisp in the air. You go and you're left longing maybe even more because it's not what you wanted and then the void maybe even becomes bigger.'
Angela Keller of Phoenix makes a kind of fashion bargain with herself starting in September. If she indulges in wearing a light jacket or slacks in the morning, she'll have the common sense to swap into a T-shirt or shorts by midafternoon.
'Living here, I want to start wearing fall clothes right away because we have such a limited season anyway,' said Keller, who runs the fashion site momstylelab.com. 'But don't push it. Winter will get here eventually.'
Keller recommends men and women wear autumnal colors in lightweight fabrics, and that women try a peep-toe bootie to get a fall fashion fix without breaking a sweat.
The heat and long days that last from April to October wear on people, said Chip Coffee, director of Therapy Services at St. Luke's Behavioral Health Center in Phoenix.
A tiny fraction of the population even experiences summer seasonal affective disorder, a mix of depression, increased libido and decreased inclination to sleep or eat. But for most, the endless summer temperatures bring on something more like the cabin fever people in colder climes feel.
'It's just too much heat, too much sun,' said Coffee. 'We're just as trapped at 115 (degrees) as someone would be trapped by a snow bank.'
Weather Channel meteorologist Maria LaRosa said everyone is emotionally connected to the weather.
'It's literally part of everybody's day, it's literally a part of your being.'
She said communities that experience extreme weather can see it as a badge of honor, something they tough it through.
'In Phoenix, you're consistently hot, and not 90 degrees hot. You're 100 degrees hot, but you can look at it like, 'I put in my time with this crazy heat, and winter's around the corner.' '
There are, of course, those people who love the summer. Meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Phoenix, for instance.
'We actually like the summer because of all the thunderstorms,' said meteorologist Hector Vasquez. 'We all like watching the lightning and the radar. That's our season.'
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