Fall in the Desert

Does Fall even exist in the desert?  Some people say there are only two seasons in Twentynine Palms:  Summer and Winter. As some of my east-coast acquaintances put it: Hotter and Hot.  Fall in the desert seems non-existent. One day I am wearing shorts and a t-shirt and sweating in my swamp-cooled house.  The next day I’m digging out my sweatshirt and jeans.

It’s hot here from May to the end of October.  It’s especially difficult to endure the long stretch of hot weather when I see all the cute fall outfits advertised right around September.  The sweaters, leggings, and boots look so cozy and stylish. I should be wearing a light jacket, sipping a hot pumpkin spice latte, while wearing a comfy knitted scarf.  But it’s September – I haven’t even thought about getting out my sweaters and I don’t even own boots. It’s still 100 degrees outside! Everyone else in the country is celebrating Fall while I feel like I’m behind the curve.  I wonder if a pumpkin spice latte tastes good iced?

The trees are still green with leaves but I am beginning to notice a few “weakenings” in our consecutively hot desert days.  It occured to me that perhaps we do have a Fall season in the desert. The changes are so minor that I didn’t notice them happening before.  I present the following as evidence of Fall’s arrival in Twentynine Palms:

  • The swamp cooler/air conditioner shuts off.  I woke up a day or so ago and laid in bed wondering what was different.  Something was off in the usual morning noises. I realized I only heard my ceiling fan and not our swamp cooler.
  • Going into the garage does not feel like entering a broiler.  During the summer my garage is suffocating with heat. It is pleasant to go in there to get something and not rush back in the house again because of the reasonable fear of catching on fire.
  • The wind feels cooler.  It was windy a few days ago and it was refreshing.  It didn’t feel like a hair dryer blowing on my face.
  • The leaves at Luckie Park are changing.  There aren’t many trees in Twentynine Palms, at least trees that aren’t palm trees, but we do have beautiful specimens in Luckie Park.  It’s nice to see the green leaves yellow and flutter to the ground as I’m watching my kids play soccer there.
  • The mornings are slightly cooler.  Going to work in the early morning I notice that I almost need a light sweater.  If it weren’t for the fact that it will get to about 100 degrees later on I probably would wear a sweater.
  • The turkey vultures are drifting through Twentynine Palms.  These huge birds are awesome to see in October soaring high above the desert as part of their Fall migration.   A group of these birds is called a kettle and it’s very impressive to see a kettle roosting in tall trees with their wings spread out, displaying their 70-inch wingspan.  
  • Stater Brothers has pumpkin everything.  I see it as soon as I walk in. I’m affronted by pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin donuts, and pumpkin Pop Tarts.  That reminds me, I’d better get some pumpkin Pop Tarts before Staters is sold out.


Despite our seemingly never-ending summer there are signs that the hot summer days will not last forever.  There’s an end in sight! The end of October is a few weeks away. Tough it out, my fellow desert dwellers!  In the meantime I am going to try an iced pumpkin latte.