Part of me wishes I'd been in London, where summer apparently started quite well but faltered badly. Even a nonexistent summer would have been better than the perfidious combination of heat and humidity that passed for summer in New York. Still, at least I didn't spend it in my other home-away-from-home, Japan. A friend has just now written that Tokyo had its hottest summer in 113 years, with 48 "tropical" nights.
But now that the end is in sight — Labor Day, YES!!! — I'm switching over to a practical state of mind. Time to think up some scorched-earth tactics for dealing with this kind of scorcher in future (as scorchers are predicted to become the norm). Drawing on my years of adapting to other countries' climates, I'd like to offer offer three suggestions for beating off the next heat wave:
White Mountains of New Hampshire. It's hot up here, too, but at least you can plunge into the nearest mountain stream, river, or lake for instant relief, or run into a forest for shade. Plus the psychological benefits of gazing into crystal-clear waters are enormous after a summer that has been dominated by the devastating news of the oil spill in the Gulf. And fellow elephant seekers, please take note: New England offers the challenge of trying to spot yet another ungainly but majestic animal: the North American moose (Alces alces). We've had the good fortune of seeing three since our arrival — much to the delight of our two canines ...
2) Dance in a circle to the beat of taiko drums. Many Americans are familiar with the Mexican "Day of the Dead." Well, the Japanese have a version, too. It's called Obon and takes place in the dead of summer (mid-August), when even the living are half-dead because of the onslaught of what the Japanese call mushi-atsui conditions (if "mushi" isn't an onomatopoeia, I don't know what is). As the climate of the U.S. East Coast resembles that of Honshu Island, I propose we start up our own Obon celebrations. Being Americans, perhaps we can skip the part about our ancestors coming back to life and think of it simply as "The Day of the Living Dead." The focus could be on the Bon Odori: the custom of heading to a local park, garden, shrine, or temple, wearing yukata (summer kimono), and dancing around a yagura stage to the rhythm of taiko drums. Even if you don't join in the circle, just hearing the drumbeat can be revitalizing, getting one's blood flowing again. If you're lucky, it will keep your brain alive until summer finally ends...
3) Try beating other bloggers in the race to upload photos showing how much you are suffering, in the certain knowledge it will make them happy (misery adores company). For me, one of the greatest comforts of the past summer lay in reading other expats' blogs and seeing that the grass wasn't any greener (on the contrary, it was browner) elsewhere in the world. Here are three examples:
|SUMMER IN SHANGHAI: Blogger Kristin Bair O'Keeffe entertained us with stories of how the Shanghainese handled a summer where temperatures soared as high as 40C (104F), a record. According to her report, men tend to rub their bellies while saying how hot it is, while women employ a variety of methods to make sure the sun never touches their skin, from parasols to sun sleeves and capes.|
|SUMMER IN MOSCOW: Jennifer Eremeeva uploaded this view from her Moscow apartment as evidence that the sufferings of Moscow residents at the hands of Russia's record heat wave had not been exaggerated. Carbon monoxide levels rose to at least six times the maximum acceptable level, as hundreds of wildfires raged across the country, some very near the capital.|
|SUMMER IN DOHA: On July 14, when Doha recorded 50.4C (122.7F), its highest temperature in four decades, expat Sybil Knox decided it was time to try baking chocolate chip cookies in a tray on the dashboard of her car. Hey, if life gives you blazing desert sun, try some cooking experiments ... Her blog post was picked up by the Qatari Daily Gulf Times.|
Question: How did you survive the Summer 2010 — got any good stories to share, or heat-beating advice to impart?
Note to expat bloggers: Do you have a photo of summer 2010 in your neck of the woods to contribute to the above collection? Please e-mail me at email@example.com.