Phew...what a Scorcher!

Temperatures are Soaring

CLIMATE CHANGE

Joan

8/23/20235 min read

Of course we have seen this coming. Much of Southern Europe has been experiencing abnormally high temperatures this summer, so it was only a matter of time before it hit us. Since Sunday temperatures have been hitting 40C or above, and will do so for the rest of the week. But we are not alone, for three quarters of France is on orange alert for canicule(heatwave. ) Last year we experienced similar high temperatures, and found it difficult to cope. There was little respite, for even the nights remained uncomfortably warm and oppressive. But this year we are prepared. As I write this, cool air is blowing on me from the reversible heating unit above my head. Thank you M. Macron et al for the measures you have taken to help us avoid the strain of excessive temperatures while becoming more energy efficient. Many years ago we were able to replace our single glazed windows with double glazing, thanks to generous subsidies that were available to all. Nowadays, financial help is means related, which is only right. But encouragement to change is offered to all in some way or other and we took advantage of an 'eco loan' at zero per cent. Now we will survive hot summers in relative comfort, while heating our house more efficiently in winter. Gas is a thing of the past! What's not to like?

Reversible air to air heat pump.
Reversible air to air heat pump.

But , in spite of air conditioning, we still take special measures to cope. It is common sense to shut out the sun at all times, even if this is counter intuitive to someone from northern England. And so closed shutters and blinds are de rigeur. But then for most of the summer we have opened windows at night to bring cooler air into the house. But as outside temperatures currently hover around 30C all through the night , windows remain firmly closed. As for the chores that must be done: the earlier the better. And if we can put them off, then I shall not object.

Shutting out the sun
Shutting out the sun

But we are not alone in the forest. How are others coping? I occasionally see small birds flitting between the trees so I know that they are still there. But they remain safely in the shadows, as does the blackbird who normally hops around the "lawn" in search of an early morning snack. But we do currently have an additional avian visitor. It is the golden oriole, who normally resides in the valley close to the river. We know him by his long clear liquid call , that begins like a wolf whistle. At other times we might see him dart across our path as we descend to the road...a flash of yellow that can be mistaken for no other. We speculate that this lovely bird has come in search of water from our pond, for the river flows no more.

Stock image of a golden oriole.
Stock image of a golden oriole.

Even the industrious ants that normally march around the borders of the pool have withdrawn their labour, and the cicadas have mostly fallen silent too. Poor things, their lives above ground are limited to mere weeks, and it is normal for them to disappear around mid August. But we do occasionally see small lizards , those cold blooded creatures, soaking up the sun as they dart across the patio. But Léo, who might normally give chase , is nowhere to be seen. He has found the coolest spot of all in which to pass away the hottest hours of the day. He is in the 'sous sol,' the dark space underneath our house, and will not emerge until evening. That doesn't seem such a bad idea!

One very cool cat.
One very cool cat.

Some trees and shrubs are suffering too. Like these Photinias and Elaeagnus with their drooping leaves. Some younger shrubs are even turning brown and withering. To water everything would be such an enormous task, and we can only hope that they will revive when the rains return. Even some of our oak trees , which normally are the last trees in the forest to show their autumnal colours, are turning red and gold.

Drooping shrubs