Warm days

We are in for a few hot days around here. Yesterday it got up to 96 degrees here and the forecast calls for higher temperatures over the next couple of days. For us, coming from the midwest, the high temperatures don’t sound all that intimidating, but they are setting records around here. The high in Bellingham yesterday was 92 degrees, one degree shy of the highest temperature ever recorded in June in that city. Today it is expected to make it to 95 degrees and on Monday the high is forecast to be 98 degrees, which is higher than the all time high of 96 degrees recorded in that city. Here in Mount Vernon, we could see highs above 100 degrees today and tomorrow. We’ve got our eyes on the forecasts because we plan to leave tomorrow on a month-long trip across the country to see our daughter and her family in South Carolina. We’ve pulled our camper in temperatures above 100 degrees before, and we have good air conditioning, but we’ll be taking things a bit slower and paying attention as we go.

The hot temperatures have left people scrambling. Today was set for a much anticipated hybrid worship service at our church in Bellingham. The plan was to have a parking lot service for in-person worship while broadcasting the service over social media to what the church calls “the wider balcony.” However, an all-church email went out yesterday saying that church leaders have scaled back the plans. In place of the parking lot service, a smaller number of people will be allowed to worship inside the building while members are encouraged not to come and to participate over social media instead. The church building is not air conditioned and leaders fear that temperatures will be come too high in the sanctuary.

Part of my story is that I served the bulk of my career in churches without air conditioning. The church we served in Boise, Idaho did not have air conditioning when we started as pastors. We arrived in the summer and it was a hot one. We learned to open up the building at night and turn on air handlers, but Boise wasn’t a place that cooled down at night as much as other places where we have lived. The congregation installed air conditioning about half way through our ten years of serving it. In Rapid City, our church did not have air conditioning until just a couple of years ago. In a way, the congregation never got to fully enjoy the benefits of its new air conditioning because of reduced service attendance during the pandemic. Rapid City, for the most part, cools pretty well overnight and we were able to keep the church comfortable except during times of long stretches of hot weather.

I often say that the hottest I have ever been during a church service was at my daughter’s wedding. She was married in our Rapid City church before the air conditioning was installed and during a long July heath wave.

There are quite a few options for cooling down around here. Area lakes and beaches were crowded yesterday and some people headed out to the coast where the breeze from the ocean cooled things a bit. Temperatures were in the high eighties in Anacortes on Fildago Island. about ten degrees cooler than here.

Our son and his family have a swimming pool. It isn’t something that they might have chosen, but they were looking for an acreage and the one they found came with an in ground swimming pool. He has had to learn quite a bit about pool maintenance and we built a fence around the pool this spring. It has been fun to take a dip in the pool and we spent some time swimming with our grandchildren yesterday. Our son commented that they have a busy social schedule this week, with friends dropping by. In one case a colleague who he doesn’t know very well, but who has children similar ages to his, suggested that they “hang out” this weekend. Actually, the way the conversation went was something like this: “Hey, you have a pool, don’t you? How about my family coming over to hang out sometime this weekend.” A couple of other friends have planned visits to the farm this week.

We have developed a pattern of going out for lunch on Saturdays with our grandchildren. Our daughter-in-law sees clients all day long on Saturdays and the children are with their father for the day. In the time before the pandemic they used to explore area cafes. After we arrived, during the pandemic, we have explored different options for carry out dining. However, more and more places are open for eating in and yesterday our son decided that the destination for lunch should be an air conditioned shopping mall with a food court. It was a hit with the children, who got to choose a burger joint for their food while we adults got teriyaki from a Japanese stand nearby. We took a walk inside of the mall after our lunch and enjoyed the air conditioning.

I suspect that the mall will be a popular place over the next few days and people seek refuge from the heat. It isn’t just churches, there are a lot of homes in the area that do not have air conditioning. We don’t have air conditioning in the home we are renting, but we have never lived in a home with central air conditioning and we are fairly practiced at keeping the place cool. And we are planning to leave tomorrow. Things will be cooled down by the time we return. We will see a few days with temperatures above 100 and quite a few with temperatures in the 90s. However, we should be in the mountains of north Idaho by tomorrow evening and into Montana by Tuesday where we can cool our feet in the river.

Regular readers of my journal: please note that we will be traveling for the next month. We will be staying at campgrounds and most will have Internet access, but it is always a bit uncertain when we travel. Don’t worry if the journal posts are late or if I miss a day or two. We’ll catch up soon enough. The journal will probably be a bit of a travelogue for a while as we head out on our road trip.

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