Long Hot Summer

You think it's been hot around here this summer? Well, it has, to a degree (forgive me for that). But, then it's always hot here in the summer, and the humidity is usually high. So, we're used to it, and while we complain unceasingly, we expect, and usually get, a high discomfort index. Our hottest day, so far, was last month when the thermometer climbed to the mid-nineties.

In Europe , they're in the midst of a monumental heat wave—a real heat wave—the temperature hit 106 today in southern France , and it could go higher in coming days. Now, that's hot by anybody's standards. The heat prompted French authorities to spray down the walls of a nuclear reactor with cooled water; British rail operators are halting some trains out of fear the tracks will buckle. And Europe simply isn't used to that. Although European climate is tempered somewhat by the remnants of the Gulf Stream , remember that southern France is on about the same latitude as Toronto ! London is about as far north as Quebec !

Normally, European summers—by our standards—are comfortably cool. Germans, for example, will flock to swimming pools if the temperature reaches 80. The people are just not customarily culturally capable of coping with really hot weather, despite the appearance of palm trees along the Mediterranean coasts of Spain , France , and Italy . So, we should feel for our European cousins—right now, they're really taking the heat!