The Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest have endured record-breaking heat since late June, and starting this coming weekend, many places will see temperatures soaring into the upper 90s and beyond again.

Many in the region live without air conditioning; normally we navigate hot days by opening doors and windows in the evening to to let cooler air flow in. This heat wave has been especially brutal for the elderly and the very young, along with homeless people, those living in poverty, and people living with respiratory conditions. In parts of British Columbia, Canada most impacted by the heat, the death rate was nearly triple the daily provincial average during the last week of June.

One of my favorite all time sayings is “This too, shall pass.” and I look forward to the return of cooler days that don’t throttle the kale, tomatoes, bee balm, milk weed, other things growing in our garden and ourselves this season. I look forward to not sheltering in the basement late afternoon into early evening, when downstairs it’s below 70, upstairs we’re in the mid 80s, and outside it’s nearly 100 degrees F.

Yet silver linings, life lessons and gifts of wisdom accompany challenging times, no matter where our feet are. Here at home in Missoula, the unrelenting early heat has jolted us into slowing way down, focusing on what’s truly most important, and postponing some projects and activities until cooler weather returns.

Erik and I are checking in on our kitty Ren more often, and have her inside most of the day. We keep her indoor and outdoor water bowls filled, and touch base with family and next door neighbors to see if they need help navigating the hot weather.

We’re watering our outdoor plants, flowers, vegetables and trees more frequently, especially early mornings and at dusk to allow for better saturation. We’re monitoring and watering our indoor plants more often, as they can get mighty parched, too!

For the most part, we’re using our stovetop only to boil water for morning coffee. We’re enjoying cold salads, sandwiches, and chilled seasonal fruit including cherries, raspberries and cantaloupes. We’re  content preparing chicken, fish and veggies on our backyard grill, then dining in lawn chairs parked strategically in the shade, with Ren prowling or snoozing nearby.

What has this lengthy stretch of scorching hot weather showed us?

Especially when it’s extremely hot, cold, smoky or otherwise unhealthy to be moving at your usual speed of life, remember that it’s alright to do less, shake things up, and postpone doing things. As and after things change (and change again) it’s worth considering whether certain habits, patterns, routines and activities remain important or are no longer worth doing, and that is alright as well.

Let summer be your muse and inspiration, whether it’s 100 degrees or a balmy day with billowy cumulus clouds drifting dreamily above. Adjust your work and other routines accordingly. Get up early and enjoy the quiet, cooler time of day where birdsong prevails over human sounds. Watch for bats and nighthawks flitting about at dusk, while noticing the stars, planets and the moon emerge in the night sky.

Nature continually shows us how to live in balance and harmony with our surroundings, and summer is an especially ripe season to spend time with friends, family, colleagues, and also alone. Don’t let the heat get you down-find ways to improvise, adapt and adjust, and eventually this season too shall pass.

Here’s wishing you all a safe, fun and relaxing summer, no matter what’s happening weather wise. Here’s also wishing you the ability to keep cool, slow down and do what it takes to enjoy rather than endure this fleeting, abundant season!