The weather report said we were going to have a two week heat wave, starting today. So far, twelve hours into the fortnight, the report has been correct. This morning there was not a cloud in the sky. I took Auguste for a walk before breakfast, and already the sun is scorching. I mopped the floor to cool the air, dropped all the shutters and closed the windows, turned on the fan, and did a load of laundry. I’ll hang it to dry in the apartment, and that will further cool the air. As you can see, there is no air conditioning here in France (or very little).
Here are my heat-beating plans for the next two weeks:
Lemonade (my Great-aunt Minnie made the Best lemonade – her recipe is easy: take three (preferably organic grown) lemons, wash them well. Cut into small chunks, put in heavy pitcher with 1 cup sugar and crush with a wooden spoon. Add water, a mint leaf, and strain into tall glasses full of ice cubes.
Wet kitchen towels. At the height of the last heat wave, when the apartment was hopelessly hot, and neither fans nor lemonade helped, I wet kitchen towels and hung them on a broom in front of the fan. The other towels went draped over my legs. Instant cool!
Mint tea. In Morocco, I drank steaming hot, very sweet mint tea. The Moroccans drink it all day long, and in the worst of the heat, it’s oddly cooling. You take whole sprigs of mint and using a spoon, crush them in a glass with a sugar cube (or three or four). (The Moroccans love it very sweet). Then, in a teapot, steep some gunpowder green tea leaves. What you should do is first add a cup of boiling water and then, after only a few seconds, pour that “spirit tea water” carefully into a cup & save it. Now, fill the teapot again with boiling water and swirl it around to “clean” the leaves. Discard the resulting murky tea. Fill the pot a third time and add the cup of “spirit tea water” you’ve saved. Add the crushed mint and sugar and bring to a boil. Do not stir! Pour into tall glasses, using a strainer if you don’t have a teapot with a long spout.
Beat the heat by waking up early and opening all the doors and windows. As soon as the sun rises and starts to heat the air, close everything and make sure the rooms stay in the shade. After next week, the air at night will most likely be as hot as daytime, so I will have to get up at 4 or 5 am to open the windows and let in the cool. There is always a moment of cool at dawn…
Go to the local parks. Under the tall trees, the deep shade is cool. We take picnics to the park and sit on the grass. After, it’s time for a long nap. In Spain, where the heat is unbearable, everyone naps at noon. The streets are empty until five or six in the evening.
Head to the coast. If all else fails, head to the coast. Deauville and Trouville are only an hour and a half away from us – and the English Channel is always icy cold. We can go for the day and play in the surf, have a dish of mussels, and come back late at night – itchy with sand and salt, but refreshed!
And if you’re not hot enough – here is my blog from 2 years ago:
All day long, the sun beats down and the wind blows fever hot. In the courtyard, the leaves on the trees and bushes droop and the grass crackles. In the evening, the sky turns apricot and gold, tangerine and salmon, the clouds tinged with glittering dust.
Yesterday, trains were delayed, tempers frayed, and I made lemonade with fresh mint from my balcony. This morning, I was woken up by a grumble of thunder and a few drops of rain cooled the morning air for a brief moment, but then the sun rose and now the sky is white with roaring heat. Today we stay inside, shades and windows closed, and sit in front of the fan.
The plants are gasping, I will water them when the sky is dark. The heat leaches every drop of moisture from the air.