God has smitten me for my callousness and hubris: It feels as if She's turned the clock back two months, to the very end of winter.
Over the past two weeks we've had unseasonably cold temperatures including a couple of below-freezing nights. One morning we woke up to twenty-nine degrees, followed by four consecutive grayish, clammy, depressing days that looked too much like winter's last throes up north.
Over lunch with a friend yesterday we groused about how fed up we were with all the gloomy weather. But then he recalled forty-nine consecutive cloudy days in Rome while he was studying there and Stew and I remembered one year in Chicago when the sun didn't come out during the entire month of February.
Maybe it's not so bad here. The sun came out yesterday and is in full-force today.
The freezing temperatures however did some serious damage to the plants. Buds, green shoots, foliage and flowers, all singing the arrival of spring one day woke up brown the next as if they'd been singed by a glancing blow torch.
The promising crop of about thirty or forty young peaches shriveled and fell on the ground. Three dozen small nursery plants we had put out just two days before got zapped, though there's enough green growth left on them to hope they'll come back. Six tomato seedlings definitely won't come back along with four small chile plants Félix had coddled along as if they were his dearest babies.
We've got more seedlings going, so eventually we'll have tomatoes, chiles, cucumbers, squash and all that, but three or four weeks later than we had hoped.
Also missing are the bees, which had been madly strafing the early bumper crop of huizache and other flowers. In town someone noticed dead bees on floor of his terrace and the alarm went off through the Civil List, the expat internet bulletin board, that something wrong—very, very wrong—was afoot. Not much later, someone posted an announcement blaming cell phones and cell phone towers for the unfolding apian holocaust, not only here but worldwide. Others cursed pesticide use by farmers near San Miguel. Yet another person projected a scenario in which fruits and other crops could be fatally affected forever by the absence of bees, butterflies and other pollinators.
|Buzzing in the inside: Actually |
the hive has grown to triple
the original size, with the
addition of two extra boxes on top.
¡Ay Dios mio! I asked Félix if he'd heard anything in beekeeping classes about these dire prospects. No, but he rattled off three or four other horrible pests and calamities that could affect bees. One particular type of plague can only be eradicated by burning the beehive down to the ground—bees, honeycombs and all. Thanks, Félix.
Finally, this morning Stew spoke with Bee Bob, our local fountainhead of credible, if sometimes garbled, information about bees.
Not to worry, he said. It was the sudden cold that knocked off so many bees and the subsequent cloudy days that kept the survivors in the hives, probably buzzing double-time trying to keep warm. The freezing temperatures also had caused widespread damage to leaf crops around San Miguel and the neighboring state of Querétaro.
So there's nothing to do for now except to wait for the bees to poke their antennae out of the hive and resume their rounds around the ranch which now looks considerably more somber and subdued. As for the rest of the landscape that was struck numb by the sudden freeze, that'll take a little longer, but it will come back I'm sure.