Contrary to the wistful notions we brought down with us, San Miguel de Allende does have a winter cold, gray and windy enough, to send us rummaging through the coat closet for one of those heavier jackets we’d thought we’d never need again.
And for three days last week, winter really stretched it claws here.
Sparrows and other small birds sometimes seemed frozen in mid-air, flapping their wings helplessly against fierce wind gusts. There were no takers at our bird feeder, most of its seed spilled on the ground. Hope rabbits will make use of it.
One of the hooks on the rope of our flagpole broke and the Mexican flag, whose edges already had started to unravel before the windy onslaught, barely hanged on by one corner, looking like no more than a colorful rag.
On the ground, tender annuals that had tried to survive the inevitable, one morning woke up a brown and shriveled mess, after below-freezing overnight temperatures.
Our solar electrical system works perfectly 95 percent of the time, the other five percent being dark and gloomy days, when we have to roust up the gasoline-powered generator. During those three wintry days last week, the generator kept us going.
Amid this winter gloom, though, spring made an appearance. Inexplicably, the peach tree by the garage sprouted a mantle of delicate, light-pink flowers, marking the places where, several months down the road, a new crop of peaches will appear.
They will be small peaches, not nearly as big as those monsters you buy in Texas, but every bit as sweet. Swarms of bees and a few hummers already are taking advantage of the early flowers, despite the wind.
This one peach tree is peculiar for another reason: We never planted it. It just sprouted on its own a few years back, and without any encouragement from us, hasn’t just grown but thrived. About five feet away, a mesquite popped up about the same time, and it’s doing just as well.
Conflict will be inevitable, as both trees continue to grow, and I don’t know how I’ll resolve it.
Both trees are about six or seven feet tall. Mesquites have mile-deep roots that makes them almost impossible to transplant.
Digging up the peach tree, which is doing so well on its own, seems too risky. Killing it would be a damn shame.
I think I’ll leave both of them alone and let them work out their territorial claims on their own.
On the other side of the house, a cow’s foot tree, so named by Mexicans because of the shape of its leaves, and sometimes called orchid tree in the U.S. because of its delicate lavender flowers, burst into its own frenzied flowering, defying logic, the wind and the cold.
The rhythms of nature here baffle me.
What’s the alarm clock that wakes up some of these plants? It must be an internal, rather than external.
The April showers jingle doesn’t apply in San Miguel, where it won’t rain a drop for another six or seven months.
And neither will there be a significant rise in temperatures until the end of February, at the earliest, that will coddle the other trees to begin flowering and branching out.
Whatever the reason, I’m grateful for the early awakening. I’ll take it as welcome act of God, one of many I’m not able to understand.
Winter will roar a few more times, for sure, but it won’t stay around forever: These early harbingers of spring reassure me so.
Besides, beginning yesterday, the sun shattered the gray cover, to reveal a brilliant blue sky, even if the temperatures still lag in the 50s.
I’m perplexed but not complaining.