As I started to close the museum on the last open Sunday for the season, I struck up a conversation with Maryanne (a store volunteer) about her plans to head back East for the summer. We started talking about the seasons that are familiar to most of the country. How people endure freezing winters, wet springs; humid summers and pleasant autumns. Being a native of the Southwest, I always quip that we don’t have seasons we have changes in temperature. Talking to people who have come from cooler parts of our nation, about how the cyclical nature of the four seasons is a nice breaking up of the year. One season flows into the next, and with the different traditions associated with each season it is a good marking of the time.
Heading out to gate up the Doorways to the Past exhibits I started reflecting on the seasonal changes of the museum and the valley, subtle as they may be. As spring turns to summer, temperatures go from the 70’s, to 80’s, to 90’s, to 100 plus, the Valley of the Sun shows how you really can have too much of a good thing. With these changes in temperature a metamorphosis starts to takes place. Commutes become shorter due to the exodus of students from ASU, and the shifting of tourists who came to the southern part of the state for its warmth, now head to the northern part of the state for its natural wonders. The thin vale of green produced by the spring rains that once blanketed the surrounding mountains turn brown again. Valley natives begin to cower in buildings from the oppressive sun as it passed thru the day, much like the tactics our northern brethren do for Old Man Winter. With summer time, schools close down and with the heat, tourism slows down. PGM stops becoming a hub of activity for grammar school children and out-of-towners looking for Native American ruins and a cactus to pose with. So the museum takes its' cue and restricts its’ week to Tuesday through Saturday.
I also have worked my life around the slowing down of activity at the museum. Being a part time employee I work mostly weekends and nights. The summer means to me the ability to spend more time with my family. With the museum closed on Sundays I’m able to spend one day of the week with my wife instead of swapping parental responsibilities between the week and the weekend. The summer slowdown also means having time for vacations, from doing the "Zoney" thing in San Diego; to spending time with the in-laws back in Indiana. Summer plans with my boys also involve visits to museums, attending swim classes, and going to the July Friday story telling's at Pueblo Grande.
Soon, in just a mere five months, of blistering heat, the seasons will change once again. The temperatures will go from the 100’s to the 70’s, kids will return to school, and Pueblo Grande Museum will open it doors all week long. Until then, I wish the docents and volunteers that head back to cooler climates a safe trip; to the volunteers that stay behind, remember to drink plenty of fluids and reapply that sunscreen; and to my co-workers that I hardly see when I am working during the fall and spring, “I’ll see ya when I see ya."
Posted By Chris Johnson, Museum Aide - Visitor Services