I love the rainy days, but I would be singing night and day if I were to eulogize this heavenly moisture in Germany. Rain had come down too much on the land of BMW and Nivea cream.
Perhaps Germany’s May and June 2013 had altogether five clearly sunny days. And some of these presented a tropical steam kitchen with 35 degrees Celsius (100 F) and almost 100 percent humidity.
On one of those rare brilliant days, we sat dazed and mesmerized at a Travemünde beach café. It was too hot to move about. Even the famous beach baskets hunkered down, mouth wide open, gasping for air.
Ya-ha, that was a pretty exceptional day. Otherwise, the heavens poured down water as if pushing us to rebuild Noah’s Arc. On TV, we watched people being washed out of their homes along the Danube River. Many residents tried to sandbag their storefronts in Passau, but to no avail. Scores of farm animals drowned. More dikes could have broken, but people labored ceaselessly to contain the damage.
Damage it was, however. Gasoline tanks broke, stank up the properties; furniture and merchandise spoiled; water poured from electric outlets. Everything needed to be fixed real bad or be torn down. Ms. Merkel promised emergency help, about $2000 per victim immediately. That aid was for people with nothing else but their clothes on their backs. Damages amounted to hundreds of millions Euros. Diehards along these smitten areas declared they would not only survive the flooding but also recover.
Such courage was admirable. To me, this exceptional flood seemed like New Orleans all over again. However, the Germans were better organized and much less destitute. It might seem, at times, that the clean sweep of New Orleans was intentional.
Really funny, right? The New Orleans disaster “Katrina” was talked about, predicted, so to say, but still nobody was prepared for it. Why is that? Skip, skip, skip across the pond to the rest of the story . . .
If we can think it, if we can say it, these things will happen. So we must do something about it, right? We know that earthquakes will come in California. But not in our time, we hope. We know that glacial surfaces are melting. But they are so far away. We know that we will run out of mineral oils. But gasoline is still affordable. And on it goes. We like to take a “calculated” risk. Calculate all you will. Some people thought they were smart enough to follow the receding waters into the ocean before the tsunami. Imagine the rest.
Let’s not be a doomsday prophet or a conspiracy theorist. In my own lifetime, I have observed Germany’s climate change, especially because I live so far away from it. In the last 20 years, I have hardly experienced one of those warm-crisp “Russian summer” days I used to know in my childhood.
Compared to that, everything seems moist and clammy to me, even the laundry never dries up completely. I see a lot of moss growing. And sometimes the exertion from mountain hiking feels like being “water-boarded” by the secret service. The air is heavy with water, so it’s hard for the lungs to separate the oxygen out of it.
I still love the greenery and rainy landscape. But increasingly I am experiencing more aquarium-like days than I am able to remember. So the climate might have changed already. What now?
Look at the pictures from the Tegernsee Mountains. Some impressions reminded me of the rainforest in Ecuador. Naturally, in northern Germany because of the Elbe, Alster and Baltic Sea, there was a lot of water anyway. And another load fell from the sky.