Thursday, January 19, 2012

Overture to a rain dance

It is ungrateful for anyone in San Miguel to complain about the weather here, which is about as mild and even as you can pray for. No Chicago-like deep freezes or Houston-like saunas. Particularly in the past couple of years, when there have been floods, tornados, blizzards and other disasters in the U.S., our weather, with slight seasonal blips, has remained pleasant.

As I write this, at 10:23 a.m., the skies are hazy, temperature 78 degrees, relative humidity 44 percent, and the winds calm.

Ungrateful yes, but I'm going to complain anyway. At just about the midpoint of our dry season, when we can still expect four more rainless months, I'm growing tired of the browned and flowerless landscapes and the scorched hillsides which by now look like they are suffering from a creeping mange.

There have been some gray clouds loitering above in the past couple of weeks, accompanied with some gurgling noises, but pfft. We even had teaser raindrops some days ago but so few and brief the dogs didn't even bother to come inside. Their noses pointed contemptuously at the sky, they scoffed, "You're not fooling us!"

There's a certain apprehension around here this dry season. Last year we only received about 12 inches of rain, about half of normal. Shouldn't complain about that either given the drought that has seared  much of Texas and northern Mexico for the past two years, killing hundreds of thousands of cattle and pushing small farmers closer to ruin.

Still, the holding ponds, lagoons and other artifices to help man and beast survive our eight-month long dry season were only one-third full this year and by now are bone dry and dusty.

Gov. Rick Perry's showboat religiosity and prayers for rain don't seem to have had any effect on either side of the border.  Maybe he should have spent more time in Texas praying and brushing up on the number of justices in the U.S. Supreme Court. It's nine, not eight.

As far as I can tell, San Miguel sits perilously at the southern edge of the drought that is beating down on the American Southwest and northern Mexico. Will it spread toward us or retreat northward?

The gray yet barren clouds we've had could be a good sign, say the farmers, an auspicious warm-up, an overture containing tunes hinting of things to come. Farmers also quote experience to assure everyone that the lack of wind, a fixture usually late in the afternoon, is also a good omen. Indeed, some of them are already plowing their plots, making them ready to receive the usual seeds of corn, squash and beans as soon as the clouds finally open up.


Another comforting sight, aside from our still-green trees, is our vegetable crops chortling in our two raised beds, oblivious to the withered surroundings.

Though I buy the seeds, this tiny oasis is Félix' creation, which he nurtures daily, raising the plastic covers when it gets warm outside, watering the plants and sowing more seeds, and lowering the plastic when he goes home. It's his baby and he is justifiedly proud of it.

A half-dozen types of lettuce, spinach, arugula, a tasty little weed called mizuna, mustard greens, kale, and radishes make up this tiny jungle. Stew and I are eating more vegetables now than ever in our lives.

Bill Barnes, a blog reader from Florida, recently visited San Miguel and dropped off a bunch of seeds, many of them unavailable locally. Thanks Bill. He also wrote me that he's already busy planting his garden plot with onions, peas and carrots. He's encouraged me not to give up on growing different varieties of tomatoes. Between the uncooperative soil and the iffy rains, my impulse is to stick to the same-old crops. That's not much fun.

An hour after I started writing this blog, the temperature has risen to 86 degrees, the humidity shriveled to 28 percent and there's not a cloud in the sky.

The rains will come, I'm sure, but not today.

3 comments:

  1. I thought you might enjoy Salem, Oregon's local news for today..
    http://www.statesmanjournal.com/

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  2. Thanks for the link. I don't think I want quite that much rain!

    al

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  3. If you want green, you should spend a few weeks on this coast. I am amazed how green the place can be without rain for so long.

    And I just missed that Salem rain. I hope my house does, as well.

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