16 February 2009

Febrero Loco

When I was a kid growing up in Chicago I don't remember much about February other than Valentines Day. The rest of February was kind of a gray blur. Oh, yes, there were always some ice fishing derbies on the Chain-O-Lakes and the ice rinks of the Chicago Park District were still good for some late season hockey before the inevitable thaw, but that's about it. February was a good time to have a cold if you were going to have one because everyone else was feeling kind of “blah” anyway. It was the "slushy" month. March was the month that gave us hope. There was that old saying that “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb”. March was the harbinger of spring. March was Eastertime and the Resurrection. The average date of the last frost in Northern Illinois is April 15th so by the time the income tax was due the leaves had already started to appear on the trees and the dandelions on the lawns. By Mother's Day the lilacs would be in bloom and that is when we would crown the Blessed Virgin our "Queen of the May". After that it was time for baseball, fireflies, and mosquitoes and summer would be in full swing.

Where I live now, in Irapuato, Guanajuato, México, just three degrees of latitude below the Tropic of Cancer, we have to shift things up a notch. The saying here is “Febrero loco, Marzo otro poco”. This means “February is crazy and March is even more so”. The “otro poco” is short for “otro poco más” which means “a little bit more”. The “más” is no doubt left out of the saying for reasons of rhyming. In February you can freeze by night and burn by day and in March you may be blown away. Hey, hey! I'm a poet and I didn't even know it.

By April things will really start warming up here and May is generally uncomfortably warm. In fact, where I live, April and May are the warmest months. Why is this? Well, for one thing, the sun is moving north about 15-1/2 miles a day from where it started on the Tropic of Capricorn on December 21st and it will pass straight over our heads at noon on May 24th on its way to the Tropic of Cancer near the 23rd parallel. It will heat things up quite a bit on its way. Then it will reverse its travel once again on June 21st. It won't heat us up again, however, because in the meantime the Earth is moving farther from the Sun and will be at its Aphelion (farthest point from the Sun) on July 4th. Isn't that interesting? When the U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed, the Earth was at its farthest point from the Sun. I wonder if the founding fathers planned it that way to symbolize how far they were separated politically from King George.

By the time June 24th comes around we should be into the rainy season. June 24th is the feast day for Saint John the Baptist and in the old days in Mexico many people bathed completely only on that day of the year. Often times this was a ritual bathing because Saint John is the patron saint of water. He is not only the first cousin of Jesus but according to Jesus Himself, St. John was the greatest prophet and he shares the distinction with Jesus and Mary of being the only three individuals whose birthday the Catholic Church celebrates in the liturgical calendar. The date is very close to the Summer Solstice on June 21st and birthday of Saint John marks the halfway point in the year until Christmas. Please don't tell anyone at Walmart about this or they might move the Christmas shopping up a bit more than they already have. If you are in Mexico in June would like to have a nice time, then find a church named San Juan Bautista on June 24th and join the congregation in celebrating their saint's birthday. I guarantee you will have a great time.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, the rainy season. The rainy season here is not as bad as it sounds. It lasts all summer until about October and the weather is actually quite pleasant. I am reminded of the musical “Camelot” where King Arthur sings:

"In Camelot! Camelot!
I know it sounds a bit bizarre,

But in Camelot, Camelot
That's how conditions are.

The rain may never fall till after sundown.

By eight, the morning fog must disappear.
In short, there's simply not

A more congenial spot

For happily-ever-aftering
Than here
In Camelot."

Insert “Irapuato” in place of Camelot and there you have it folks. The only problem that I have now is getting it to rhyme. By the way, speaking of rhyming. When I was ten years old in 1957 at Our lady of Grace School in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood we used to get a little publication called "Our Little Reader". I remember that the following item appeared in late March of that year. I wonder if you remember seeing it too.

Question: If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?

Answer: Pilgrims!


Billie Mercer said...

Darn it, Bob. You did it again. Not only beating me to the subject but you did it better than I could anyway. Really good post.

YayaOrchid said...

Very informative post as always! Thank you for always teaching us something. :)

GlorV1 said...

Always a good post. I think May flowers are beautiful. This April and May reminds me of the song that brings flowers that bloom in May. So if it's raining, have no regrets, It isn't raining rain you know, it's raining violets. Ahh, the good old songs. Take care.

Babs said...

You are so darn knowledgeable! LOVE the blog and as usual, it brings back memories of growing up in Chicago and going to Catholic School. Memories that I haven't thought of in half a century - thanks for the stroll down memory lane..........

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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.