It is summer here in Dushanbe and we are deep into it. It has been hot so long that the sensation of being cold or wearing pants or shoes or socks or jackets is a vague memory that resides in the same part of reality as the tooth fairy. The high here a few days ago was 107 degrees. One hundred and seven degrees is so hot that it is ten degrees hotter than ninety-seven degrees and twenty degrees hotter than eighty-seven degrees. It's so hot that a few of my plants outside have to be watered twice a day or they will be dead by morning. It's hot enough that the waterslide deck burned Sophia's feet pink the last time we went to the water park. It's just hot.
There are some good things about summer in Dushanbe. Summer is the time when there is all the produce in the world for cheap cheap cheap. Right now you can go to the bazaar and get watermelons, yellow melons, peaches, nectarines, blackberries, apricots, cherries, apples, plums, raspberries, strawberries, and deliciously perfect tomatoes, in addition to all of the rest of the vegetables. We spend all summer here in a fruit coma, packing in all of the fruit to last us through the winter. Occasionally the children will ask if they can bring fruit outside while they are playing and I'll find two or three apricots rattling around in the bottom of a bowl that held two kilos that morning. One of Eleanor's favorite things to do is sit and eat raspberries with a spoon, putting away at least a pound of them in one sitting. I've told the children that one day when they grow up and live in America they will go to the grocery store and about die to see how much raspberries cost there and realize what they had while living in Dushanbe.
Normally the summer is also a great time for swimming. The embassy has a pool and we have spent a lot of time there. But it hasn't been working since the first day of summer (ironic, I know) and we've had to find alternatives.
Most days I send the children to play in the yard. It's a scientific fact that children who spend all day in the house fight more than children who have been kicked out for a couple of hours. At least it's a fact in our house. We have a sprinkler (thanks, Dad!) and so the children will put on their swimsuits so that they can try and spray each other with it. Sometimes they just use the hose. And until I banned the practice for the sake of the umbrellas, they used umbrellas to keep the very cold hose water off themselves. This option isn't the children's favorite way to deal with the heat, but I don't care.
There is also a local waterpark which actually isn't that bad. It is also very popular and getting there close to opening time, especially on women and children day (no men allowed, including lifeguards), is a good idea. A few weeks ago I went with a friend to swim in the afternoon and we showed up only to discover that the place was so full that they were only letting people in as patrons left. As it was going to be a long time before ten left, we gave up and went back to the sprinkler. The children were only pacified after we promised cookies and root beer.
Thankfully we're leaving for three and a half weeks to go back to America where it isn't quite so hot (and this is North Carolina!) and there are things like central AC. In my mind, summer is over after we come back from R&R because that's when school starts. But evidently Tajikistan didn't read my mind because summer is definitely not over in August - or September. I always think of September as the month of disappointed expectations. I spend the whole month waiting for the first breath of cool air, the promise of reasonable temperatures that mean we can start going outside again in something other than swimsuits. But it never ever comes until October. And then finally, summer is over.
I still like summer, even after spending three of them in Dushanbe. I like wearing flip-flops and shorts and swimming and eating good produce. I'd still rather be here than in Moscow. But I will say that one day (and I'm not sure when that will be - I'm looking at you, Tashkent) when I live in a place where 100+ temperatures are an anomaly instead of a regularity, it will be a little nicer. I'm not planning any moves to Canada, but I think I'm also going to stay away from Arizona too. Maybe somewhere nicely in the middle.