Santa Rosa garden with visitor

Tuesday, 25th July, 2006

Cooling Off

How long have we been having this heatwave in northern California—S reckons it started around the 1st July? The average temperature since then has hovered between 95 and 100+ degrees Fahrenheit—and on Sunday crested at 107.8 °F. One city near here, Healdsburg reached 114 ° recently—temperatures more usual for the desert city of Palm Springs in southern California than anywhere in northern California.

Today when we drove into town the traffic was light (consisting it seemed mainly of business and public transport vehicles)—with everyone driving extra carefully. There were not that many people in the stores, it looks as if people were not venturing out into the heat unless it was absolutely necessary and keeping their driving to the absolute minimum. When we arrived back home and walked from the car the street seemed eerily quiet and deserted; except for one elderly man with a wide-brimmed hat slowly edging along the pavement across the way. The heat can be dangerous. Already there have been some 50 or so heat related deaths in California. And everyone is praying that the electricity grid holds up without any "rolling blackouts"—because life with these temperatures is pretty miserable without air conditioning.

"I have never known it as quiet as this," I said to S. "No,"—she said, "people are staying indoors—feeling worried! It is rather apocalyptic."

Well, it's not only the intense heat that becomes scary, especially when you have to endure it day after day but all the other things happening in our world. The recent Tsunami and earthquakes still happening in Indonesia, hurricane Katrina, the volcano erupting in Ecuador, floods in Europe are only a few of the recent geophysical upheavals rippling through the world. Now we have the violence in the Middle East—the fighting (incessantly) in Iraq and violence between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon—all darkening the atmosphere. Very soon it all becomes impossible to think about and all one can do is pray—pray to the One living God.

Early one morning I walked up to the bridge which crosses the Matanzas creek. Almost dried up now and you can see the stones normally hidden under the flowing water. In a garden that backs on to the creek I see deer heading for the water sprinkler to cool down. The garden's owner has a small statue of St. Francis on a table and sets out food for the deer and other wildlife. I think he has set the sprinkler for the deer. I've often seen deer sitting down and relaxing in his yard.

    Matanzas creek stone bed

Cooling down—a deer heads for the water sprinkler

Rachman Hopwood


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