Just as the heat of May becomes almost unbearable, good old Mother Nature comes through with some blessed relief. It happened last Wednesday evening, when the skies suddenly opened, right on cue as we were stewing in our juices.
But it wasn’t the usual sort of pre-rainy season chubasco (cloudburst) that comes and goes in a heartbeat. It was a steady rain that lasted well into the night, saturating the parched landscape and cooling fevered brows.
The best part was rising the next morning to inhale the distinctive and penetrating aroma of freshly dampened earth. It’s a unique characteristic of this dusty land, a reminder of the catchy line from the Tapatio anthem: “Guadalajara, Guadalajara, hueles a pura tierra mojada.”
And then hours later, the surprise of an even more intense downpour that carried thunder, lightning and a barrage of hailstones to along the lakeshore. A walk around the garden at sunrise revealed a blanket of leaves spread across the lawn, but hardly any damage to coddled flowering plants. We lucked out.
With the combination of high temperatures and a good soaking, flower beds are flourishing and the ground is starting to show green tinges. And there are some resident birds that start chirping a joyful song as soon as the sun rises, perhaps inspired by feeding on fat grubs that rainfall brings to the surface.
The aftermath of the early storms had its downsides, too. For starters, the added humidity in air and earth has intensified the heat factor. I have to get rolling earlier than usual to take care of the day’s business before lethargy and inertia take me prisoner. Will I muster the energy to patch leaks in roof evidenced by the unexpected rain?
We’ve spent recent days battling an acute invasion of winged ants that spring to life by the hundreds with the first rains. They came out of nowhere and for inexplicable reasons made a bee-line to our sleeping quarters. I’m still sweeping up the creepy carcasses. Flies and mosquitoes are proliferating as well.
While we’re on the subject of bugs, you notice that once it rains even a little bit, the chicharras (cicadas) really crank up the volume of their seasonal screeching. The mating call of the malebugs becomes a non-stop brain-numbing strum, making the torrid temperatures feel more oppressive and idleness more tempting.
It’s the time of year that local people while away the sweltering afternoon hours hunting for guamuchiles, the monkeypod fruits that grow on native trees. Entire families wander about carrying long bamboo sticks with wire hooks jerry-rigged to one end, handmade tools employed to fish the twisted red and green pods from the tree’s scraggily branches. As they go, they’ll nibble on chunks of the white flesh hidden inside, drop the empty hulls and spit out the hard ebony colored seeds, while bagging up extra stashes to carry home.
The fruit is more dry than juicy, with a peculiar sweet and tangy flavor. It is known to have curative qualities for fending off typhoid, dysentery and other digestive ailments that are prevalent during the hot season-another benevolent gift of Mother Earth. However, since excessive consumption provokes flatulence, moderation is advised.
Putting pros and cons in the balance, I’m tossing away guilt for sloth while counting the days to the Feast of San Antonio, June 13, the legendary rainy season starting date.