My first memory of drastic weather is of the bitter cold. I couldn’t tell you how old I was, but I know I was quite young; my younger brother had not yet been born and there is a four year age-difference between us. We – my parents and I – were staying the night in a small, wooden cabin, likely somewhere in Northern California, when we were hit by a snow storm. I remember so clearly feeling like we existed in the center of an endless winter that night, that there would be no way out of the snow, or at least none I could see. I remember it being so cold, even with the furnace putting in overtime, that we held hot packs on our bellies and legs – large red rubber water bottles we filled with hot water from the stove and clung to until we had absorbed all their heat. We slept in our long johns that night.
Revised: Interview With A Family Member
Family Member: Nathalie Valette, Mother
Nathalie’s initial comments after seeing this post: “I think you were either two or three, and it was probably in February when we were staying in Yosemite. We were outside of the park, in a small cabin, you’re right. What’s interesting is that I’m actually remembering a bigger storm than this one, but you were older for that one. […] I have vague memories of this trip to Yosemite. My bigger sentimental connection to the trip you’re talking about is that, that was the first time you had seen snow.”
Q: How do you feel the weather in San Francisco has changed since you first moved there?
A: It’s changed in that rainfall has decreased significantly. When I first moved here, we would have a rainy season that would start in October-November that would go through February”
Q: Really? Wow!
A: Yeah, we would have months of sustained rained. That’s actually what would bring in the snow storms like the one you remember. There was one time, driving up to Tahoe, I remember the car behind us swerved on ice and almost got in a head on collision.
One thing I’ve really noticed is that people have almost completely changes their gardens. When we first moved here, everyone’s house had a lawn. Now, I would say, probably less than 1/3 have lawns and the lawns have been replace with drought tolerant and succulent gardens or more rock based landscapes – much less planted area. And then the other thing, is that the people who do have lawns – there are water restrictions. So often time the people that do still have lawns, they’re brown.
Q: It’s a scary time to live in our state. Honestly.
A: I agree. One of the biggest things: the fires have gotten really bad. I mean, California’s always had some Summer burn, but the state is burning up.
Q: Did you see in LA, recently, there was a wild fire that erupted over many acres of dry, tall grass in a matter of a minute or so and it essentially had the equivalent in reaction to a bomb having struck that area of land. The cloud that came out of the burning field was actually a mushroom cloud.
A: Oh wow… I didn’t see that. That’s crazy. Scary-crazy. […] I mean we’ve been having these burns but on the other side we’ve also been having these crazy mudslides because the earth doesn’t know how to absorb water when it does come. It’s too dry.
Q: Having been back home to Paris on frequent occasions, have you noticed any changes there?
A: The flooding in Paris has gotten unmanageable. The Seine is, I mean, the river banks can’t hold the river anymore. I know Paris, not only Paris but France, has had extreme Summers. That’s new. I mean seriously, unbearable; Summers so hot people are dying in France. That’s why we had to put AC in the apartment there.
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