Chaleur

Paris August 10, 2009

Living near the 30th parallel in Texas means August is hot getting hotter. The Northern 30th parallel cuts across North Africa, Iraq, India and South China. Perhaps the most famous cities intersected are Cairo and New Orleans. Logically one would think that traveling nearly to the Northern 50th parallel would provide substantial heat relief. Think Quebec and Paris. Logic fails you.

When I arrived in Paris on August 6th the temperature was 32 degrees Celsius. The United States is the last civilized country to continue to use Herr Fahrenheit’s illogical temperature scale. Blame Reagan not W. According to Herr doctor’s scale it would be about 90F. If you factor in the sans-air-conditioning index, think Anbar province with humidity. Unlike Texans who follow the summer mantra — Find a pecan grove, serve lots of iced tea and forbid deep thinking; the French shut themselves into their tiny apartments, (convection ovens), think deeply and drink red wine. During the summer of 2003, this chaleur response produced 14,802 fried French.

In a way, by an interesting intersection, I come for the heat. If you have ever enjoyed viewing impressionist painting from the late 19th and early 20th century you have also probably appreciated the incredibly beautiful and magical clouds they painted. For the longest time, I believed those clouds to be children born of the green angel, absinthe. Wrong.  Near the end of August or the beginning of September the seasons begin to change in Northern Europe. Cold Eastern winds rush head long into chaleur. Only once before have I witnessed this epic struggle. I used to believe that Germany repeatedly invaded to France for women and wine.  Wrong. They came to witness the cumulus progeny of Yin and Yang, as have I.  The English invaded for the food.

It has been ten months since I was in France and sixteen months since I last searched for my current obsessive-compulsive-photographic muse, Jeanne d’arc. I will go on the 12th from Paris to the Midi where she fought a winter’s campaign against the English in 1429. Meanwhile I have seen a wonderful Kandinsky exhibition at the Pompidou Center. It is not quite the season yet, but I hope the sample I have attached arguers well.

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