That’s Global Warming in Paris for You!
The geraniums at home survived this year’s winter for the very first time in 15 years. That’s Global Warming for you.
They look a bit rough around the edges, but with all this rain and cool (but not cold) weather, they should be ‘singing a pretty tune’ by end of May. Not so with the fuchsia geraniums at La Paris Plage, Le Parisol or the red ones at Le Provençal (the Parler Paris rental apartments). They all died a horrible death and begged to be replanted.
Every year it has been the habit to head down to the Quai de la Megisserie mid-March where the nurseries and pet shops sit side-by-side to choose the biggest and best geraniums, pack them along with fresh soil in the marketing cart and head home on the 96 bus to plant them. Not this year. It’s only just now that the weather has warmed up enough to feel safe planting them. That’s Global Warming for you.
On the way to the Quai, I made a stop at Leroy Merlin (the “Home Depot” of France) to return a few items that were unused in the recent renovation of my daughter’s bedroom. They had just put out huge racks of geraniums in every color at the bargain price of 1€ a pot, so going no further, I loaded up their green plastic cart with 27 plants at half the price of what would have been on the Quai.
The line to check out was long, but moving smartly, and when I got to the cashier, she smiled — what a lovely item for her to be ringing up! It was no easy task to load the marketing cart with the case that held 15 of the geraniums while everyone in line was ogling me, until a young woman came over and volunteered her assistance. It was one of those moments when the French surprise you — when all the times you’ve cursed them for their poor customer service or negative attitude make you feel guilty for ever having such bad thoughts.
Tess, my housekeeper of 18.5 years awaited me at Le Provençal to begin the planting. She’s been working with us since the day we moved to France and has been my ‘cohort in geranium crime’ ever since (among other coordinated cleaning and organizing efforts over the years). In fact, I think she looks more forward to planting the geraniums than I do! She refuses to wear gloves, while I must protect these old, but ‘ladylike’ manicured hands and she loves to pile the fresh soil on top until they sit up and smile.
This morning she called from La Paris Plage to say the apartment was clean and ready for me to come up and plant the four planters on the terrace with three plants each. It was cold and rainy, but our only opportunity to get them happily in their new planter box homes. She took out the old roots, I made room for the new plants and together we added the fresh soil. Then watered them to remove the messy earth on the leaves and edges of the pots, then stood back and admired the 12 bright pink baby plants.
Global Warming is no joke. “Carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants are collecting in the atmosphere like a thickening blanket, trapping the sun’s heat and causing the planet to warm up. Although local temperatures fluctuate naturally, over the past 50 years the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history. Scientists say that unless we curb the emissions that cause climate change, average U.S. temperatures could be 3 to 9 degrees higher by the end of the century.” (nrdc.org/globalwarming/)
Wiki.Answers.com has a good explanation of how Global Warming is affecting our weather all over the planet, but here in Paris, those who were here in 2003 can remember it vividly. The heat weave that swept across Europe in August of that year was blamed by Global Warming, as well as the increased number of heat waves before and since. There has been roughly a 20% increase in the number of heat waves since 1949 observed in the U.S. and in 2003 here in Europe, an estimated 22,000 people died as a result across Britain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.
Paris generally has a mild climate. It’s latitude (48°52’0″N) is roughly the same as Vancouver or the Island of Newfoundland in Canada, and because it’s nestled in a basin situated midway between an oceanic climate to the west and a semi-continental climate to the east, Paris usually enjoys mild winters and cool summers. All this seems to be changing, no doubt because of Global Warming.
In the past century, the coldest winter was in 1953-1954, when the thermometer dropped to -15°C (5°F). The coldest day ever recorded was on December 10, 1879 with -23.9°C (-11°F). (I’m glad I missed it!) The hottest recorded temperature reached 40.4°C (104.7°F) on July 28, 1948, but the deadly heatwave of August 2003 recorded nine consecutive days of temperatures exceeding 35°C (95°F). I will never forget it!
The geraniums didn’t do so good that year, either — no better than the humans wilting around them.
A la prochaine…
Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC
(with ‘Sandrine de Paris‘ after Parler Paris Après Midi — Her French Teacher Extraordinaire visiting from San Francisco”)
P.S. Yesterday at Parler Paris Après Midi, William Jordan mesmerized us with his behind-the-scenes stories of life as a diplomat in France and in the Arab world. Be sure to visit Parler Paris Après Mid to read all about it and see the photos. Then plan on being there next month when Rosemary Flannery, author of “Angels of Paris: An Architectural Tour Through the History of Paris” talks about how angels are sculpted everywhere in Paris, not just on churches but in unexpected places…
P.P.S. On your next trip to Paris you can get the answers to your most urgent questions about the City of Light that will save you time, hassle and needless expense with Practical Paris, written by veteran tour operator Karen Henrich. This handy guide is downloadable for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, plus digital formats (PDF) for the Kindle and iBookstore. Visit our Publications page to get your copy now!