01 June 2010

Any day now...

May is beyond a doubt the hottest month in the Bajío (bah-HEE-oh) region of the central highlands of Mexico where I live and that holds true for most of the country. There is a window from the middle of May through the middle of June when the rainy season begins and things start to cool off quite nicely. The rainy season isn't like a full blown monsoon but we generally have some nice late afternoon or evening showers a couple times per week for several months and everything turns very green. This is the season when the reservoirs fill up so that we will have sufficient irrigation water during the winter dry season. If it doesn't rain by June 24th, which is the day celebrating the birth of St. John the Baptist, it is a bad omen indeed. 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 (Matt. 11:9-11) and John 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 the birthday of Saint John marks exactly the halfway point in the year until Christmas.

The majority of the crops in the Bajío region are watered by irrigation water from the reservoirs. There are some brave souls, however, who practice dry land farming by necessity and these are the folks to watch if you want to know when the rains will start. If they plant their seeds too soon the the bugs, and birds, and field mice will eat the seeds before they sprout or perhaps they will will sprout and then die from lack of water. If the farmers wait too long to sow the seeds the rains will come first and then it will be too muddy to go into the fields and plant except by hand and that is a very messy and time consuming process. On average, the dry land farmers get a really good crop only about one out of every three years and so for them it is a big gamble to get it right. This week I noticed that the dry land farmers have started sowing their crops. That means that the rains should be here in about ten days. It will be interesting to see how close they come to hitting the mark. I am betting that we will soon be singing in the rain. It is time to repair your "paraguas" (umbrella) and parch that hole in your "techo" (roof).


Rosas Clan in Tulum said...

That would be hard here in Mexico! Dry farming! I can hardly do it using a green house! jajaja.

But i will look forward to the rain. I love the rain here in Mexico!

- Mexican Trailrunner said...

Ooo, paraguas, I was looking for that word the other day! Thanks.

Can't wait for las aguas to start. I'm dry as a bone and my fingers are starting to crack again. I say. . . ten more days too. In fact, I'll wager on June 13th. The sooner the better, I long to see green!

Bob Mrotek said...

Yes, a rainy day once in awhile is good for reflection :)

Okay Trailrunner. I'm with you...June 13th, the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua. Let's see if St. Anthony comes through for us :)

Karen said...

Here in Texcoco, it is hard to remember there was once a giant lake here in the area. I am ready for rain, too. Dust, yuck. Of course soon I will be whining about all the mud in my house. Yesterday was water day and if the pressure gets any weaker I will have to suck on the hose to get water to wash. As it is my landlord hooks a hose from his house to mine every few days to fill my tinaca with his bomba (pump.) My line just doesn't have the pressure to rise the 3 or 4 m to the roof tank. In fact, it barely has the pressure to make it the 1 m to my lavero for clothes washing. San Juan Baptista ayudanos.

Unknown said...

Our rains started in Honduras, and indeed, flooded the capital! But the reservoirs are filling up. I don't know if Hondurans bathe for St John the Baptist but I think full immersion for the Baptist is a great idea. Sprinkling like a Methodist just isn't the same.

Bob Mrotek said...

I think you are right, a complete dunking is the way to go. We Catholics use the trickle down method and that worries me :)

Frankly Ronda said...

There was a light sprinkle on the Pacific Coast last night that made the evening oh so pleasant.

There is something magical about waiting and anticipating that first rain and then watching everything turn green.

Nancy said...

We've had a little friendly bet going on over here in Mazatlan about when the first rain will be and the lore around here is the first rain is June 24 also.

I linked to your post on the forum so everyone could see a possible explanation of where the rain date came from.


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Viva la Mexico amigo

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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.