I have had many people tell me the main reason they couldn’t live in a southern location like Mexico is because they would miss the changing of the seasons. I know what they mean. The crocuses and tulips popping through the ground in spring after the many months of cold. The hot days and nights of summer with vacations and BBQs and lake swims. The reds and golds and oranges of fall leaves. The new crisp air and the change of wardrobes from cutoff jeans to long jeans. From flip flops to sneakers. Everything pumpkin spice. And then the inevitable sudden blast of that first snow. The beautiful frosty trees and the not so welcome blizzards and wind chills and trapped at home snow days. Life in Canada, especially in Saskatchewan, is defined by the change of the seasons and conversation about the weather. Good and bad. So much talk about the weather.
I have learned that here in Mexico there are season changes too – they are just more subtle and don’t look all that much different to the untrained eye of the tourist. But after a couple of years around the calendar, I now recognize that it is time for the shift. We are heading into rainy season and the signs are around us.
First is the temperature. Last week, for the first time in a few months, I felt the trickle of sweat running down my back. My hair screamed to be tied up on top of my head rather than resting on my skin. We turned the air conditioner on in our bedroom to give us overnight relief as we slept. It is getting hotter. Here in Bucerias, the change in temperature is slight – only a couple degrees higher – but the humidity makes it all feel more uncomfortable. There is less difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures, so our cement houses just do not cool down. We are fortunate that our house stays comfortably cool – I can’t imagine those families who live in home with no fans, with thick tarps for walls and roofs.
The dust. Oh, the dust. It has not rained since January – and that was only a few drops. The last real rain was in November – 6 months of closed skies. The unpaved roads spit out giant clouds of dust every time a vehicle rolls by. The plants are gasping for air, their leaves completely choked by the fine dirt. And yet, amazingly, flowers still bloom. The bougainvileas who don’t love water all that much are in their prime now – thick with every color imaginable. And the mangoes. The mangoes are coming! My house has not fared as well. With windows open for needed breezes, every surface is covered with a thin coat of the fine dust. As fast as I remove it with my soft microfiber glove, it returns.
So much dust….
And yet…. new life….
Critters emerge. First the ants. A couple of weeks ago we sat down for our regular breakfast in the garden and saw a GIANT pile of dirt that had been pushed up through a crack in the pavement overnight. As we looked closer, we saw hundreds – maybe thousands – of large ants running around the hill they had created. Coming out from their underground palace. Some say ants sense when rain is coming. That they are getting ready to head indoors. That will NOT be happening in this house my little friends!
We also were visited by a large poisonous cane toad last week – probably looking for water after a long period of winter drought. As per usual, puppy Nacho needed a 3:00 a.m. visit outside. I haven’t decided if he really needs to go peepee every night, or if he is just too bored to sleep – I strongly suspect the latter. But I staggered down the stairs and into the garage to let him out the front door. I could see something in the stray cat’s food dish which sits in the garage and as I bent down and looked closer, I saw the dangerous cane toad. Nacho sniffed at is as well which could have been deadly for him. Cane toads are extremely poisonous and dogs who touch their skin can die within 20 minutes. Being as it was 3:00 and my superhero protector was snoring deeply upstairs, I found a pail and covered the food dish, leaving it for a morning evacuation by someone other than me. Unfortunately, when hubby went down in the morning to bravely save his family, the little poisonous darling had escaped and now I live in fear of whether he is long gone or whether he is waiting amongst the garage stuff to reappear. We have moved all pet food and dishes inside to keep everyone safe, and I am wondering if that was raccoon cat’s plan all along – conquering the final frontier to move from the garage and into our home for good.
The most obvious telltale sign that seasons have changed is the absence of straw hats and palm tree shirts. The tourists have left. Our town is quiet. Many restaurants and shops have closed until October. Our garage is full of unrented golf carts getting bright green makeovers in preparation for fall. Soon Mexican tourists will begin to arrive on the beaches with their giant coolers and pulsing boom boxes.
These are the signs that tell us that rainy season is almost here. Hurricane season officially began this week. There are 19 hurricanes predicted for the Pacific side of Mexico this season. Living in a bay, we are mostly sheltered from such occurrences, but many of our neighboring communities are at risk. As the dangers of the hurricanes pass us by, the winds and rains of the accompanying tropical storms will make themselves known. The clouds have started to roll in. It is almost time. Time for the heavens to open and the pounding rains that come quickly and stop just as quickly. The fun of watching little children dripping with sweat, running around enjoying the cooling waters on their faces. The deep puddles for jumping in…. and getting stuck in. The powerful thunderstorms and mesmerizing lightning shows over the ocean.
These are now my signs of the changing of the seasons. As I think about why that matters, why people love to see the beginning of a new season, I realize that change always brings hope. A new season means the possibility of a new dream, a new experience, a new start to a difficult chapter. We are wired to look for crocuses and sunshine and rains. To rid ourselves of dust and disappointment. To start again. So Happy Spring to you up north and Happy Rains to me and my neighbors here! For everything….. it is time.
To everything there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.
Thanks Karen. I love reading your blogs. So true about the changing seasons. Here in Ajijic is pretty much the same as you described only without the humidity (thank goodness) but also without the ocean. We have a beautiful lake instead. We, too, are looking forward to rain as the dust is awful. We will do our happy dance once the rains start.
It’s all about getting in the rhythm of local life- whatever that is!