Amanda Ripley

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Heat Waves Remembered

27th Jul 2011 posted in Disaster Behavior

Yesterday, the weather man in DC celebrated the “end” of the heat wave. It was 95 degrees at 5:00 pm, but I suppose it’s all relative.

At our house, this heat wave had us remembering the European heat wave of 2003, when we lived in France. If you’ve ever wondered: Would this heat be easier to bear if I lived in Paris? I have the answer! From the archives of Time Magazine:

Paris was not made for this kind of suffering. When it came, the heat choked this city like a wool scarf pulled tight over its pretty mouth. Starting on Aug. 4, the temperature, normally around 75 degrees F this time of year, began hitting 104. Paris, disdainful of air conditioning and never really comfortable with ice cubes, became a burned-out paradise, full of confused people roaming wide boulevards in search of air.

But that was later. This being France, everyone at first remained debonairly calm. The old men stayed at their posts in the cafes, stoically sipping espresso in the white, noon sun. Everything in me wanted to take action, hoard bottled water, build underground shelters. But only the slightest adjustments were made: wine and candles were taken outside to the Champ de Mars, and family dinners were held beneath the Eiffel Tower. Knowing how to live apparently means knowing that nothing will last and everything has happened before. ...