The absurd temperatures in Canby between Saturday, June 26, and Monday, June 28 — reaching brutal highs of at least 115 degrees Fahrenheit — seemed more appropriate for the Mojave Desert or Death Valley, Calif., than the normally temperate climes of the agriculturally rich Willamette Valley.
It was, in short, lethally hot, as the climbing death tolls later in the week have sadly and painfully revealed.
But, as we saw in the historic wildfires last year, and again during the ice storm and prolonged blackout of February, the onslaught of nature revealed countless acts of kindness and compassion, as neighbors and friends pulled together to endure the relentless heat.
The generosity started at The Canby Center on Friday, as volunteers handed out a truckful of ice cream by the quart, donated by Winco.
“You know, some people don’t believe in miracles,” Canby Center Director Ray Keen said, “but I totally do.”
In at least one local neighborhood, residents made a game out of staying cool, placing kiddie pools around the block and essentially declaring a communitywide water war.
“That way kids could cool down while they played around in the neighborhood,” Oxen Carrol told The Canby Current on Facebook. “Squirt guns were everywhere, too.”
Danelle Adamson shared how a nearby resident swung to their rescue on Saturday, even though — fortunately — it was a false alarm.
“We had the sprinkler going to help keep our AC unit cool,” she said. “Our neighbor heard a weird sound and thought he saw smoke. He ran to our house and pounded on our door to let us know about the sound and smoke. Good thing it was only mist from the sprinkler that he couldn’t see from his backyard. Better to be safe than sorry!”
Vicki Zeise said a neighbor stopped by to give them a gift card at a local restaurant, which afforded them a reprieve from their overheated house and spared them from having to cook a warm meal.
“We have the best neighbor,” she said. “We look out for one another, the way it should be.”
Carol Gibson’s friends were also there for her when one of her two window-mounted air-conditioners conked out. Even though the only place they could find one still available — Amazon — couldn’t deliver it until later this week, she said she was grateful for the gesture.
Many Canby-area residents reported acts of kindness toward mail carriers and food and package delivery drivers — many of whom did not have the option of waiting out the heat in the comfort of an air-conditioned home.
Samantha Linn said she and her kids put out water for the local postal worker — while Cynthia Barker went one step further.
“I have a sign on my mailbox that says to knock for ice water in a water bottle if I don’t see them myself,” Barker said.
Darryl and Amy Lenhardt, owners of the Whiskey Hill Store, which they are remodeling in Hubbard near Ninety-One School, offered ice-cold water to any passers-by that needed it — and were certainly willing and eager to do the same for their mail carrier, Mary Fronk.
But Fronk had her own ideas about how best to cool down.
“I found our mail lady soaking herself in our sprinkler,” Amy Lenhardt said with a laugh. “She was set with ice packs and drinks, but thought the water would be an added cool-down.”
Brooke Toma shouted out James Heckathorn, head of the field crew for the Canby Rebels softball team, who quickly rigged up misters for the Maddi Higgins Memorial Tournament at Maple Street Park last weekend.
“It was a huge lifesaver,” Toma said. “James is a blessing to our program and community!”
Tiffany Winslow Taylor told the story of her 17-year-old son, who may have actually saved the life of a woman who began exhibiting symptoms of heat stroke at Milo McIver State Park in Estacada.
“She was seizing, vomiting, and in and out of consciousness,” Taylor said. “He helped get cold water bottles under her armpits, chest, and back along with cold towels. And he helped redirect the first responders to the correct location when the first caller hadn’t been able to give the accurate address. Proud of my kid. Stay hydrated!”
Finally, many were grateful for the organizations and individuals who opened public cooling centers that granted relief and shelter to those in need during the heat wave, including Zoar Lutheran Church and Denny’s Restaurant in Canby and the Molalla Adult Community Center.
“We had some amazing volunteers helping out at the cooling center here in Molalla,” said Kimberly Morales. “Molalla has an amazing Community full of awesome, caring people.”
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