Now that fall is here, I find that there is something that I have realized that makes all of the difference in our neighborhood, and it is now missing! Many windows are being closed in the evening and early morning as the temps are dropping during the evenings giving us a sense of being closed off from each other's lives. Coming from the southern part of the United States, I would absolutely die without air conditioning during the hot, humid summer months of the south. Here in the Pacific Northwest, however, it is a different matter! As we were moving our furniture into our current home, our discussion turned to the lack of air conditioning within most homes in the area. Of course, I could absolutely not understand how my neighbors could survive, so I turned to the group of Chaplains and Chaplain Assistants helping us to get settled (such a blessing, by the way) and asked, "What do the people here do without air conditioning?"
I will never forget one of our Chaplain's comments accompanied by a knowing smile, "On the one or two days in the summer when it gets really hot, just go to Walmart!"
"What?" and I laugh with no true concept of what he was saying. This summer, though, I did think of him on several days when it was much warmer than even the Washingtonians remembered in the past few years.
The real point of this all is that I have come to love walking throughout our neighborhood during the mornings and evenings of the summer. Windows are up (even after it is too cold for me to have my own windows open), and as I walk the furry babies, I hear the sounds of babies cooing and hitting their spoons against the high chair tray, children laughing and talking excitedly while parents sit nearby clinking silverware on dishes and interacting with the children and talking of their expectations of the day. Again in the evening, it doesn't get dark until 9:00 or a little later, and as we all walk or ride bikes or visit with immediate neighbors across the alleyways that separate our houses, people are eating dinner in the "sideyards," as I call them, or their dining rooms, and the sounds and smells of dinner waft through the screens, and there is this feeling of community! The sounds of a community shut off in the south because, although we southerners are friendly people, air conditioning is a must!