Early spring brings blessings along with caution

Forget the old “April showers bring May flowers” ditty. In San Miguel that seasonal sequence is backward; summer heat comes early in the year, anywhere from March through May, and the springtime showers, and the flip-of-a-switch greening of the landscape and burst of wildflowers, don’t arrive until late June.  

This year the rains started in late May, several weeks early, with a couple of torrential storms, and at the same time, the relaxation of many restrictions that have choked social and commercial life here for the past fourteen or fifteen months as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Additionally, yesterday Félix noted that the annual invasion of grasshoppers hasn’t started, perhaps disrupted by the changes in the seasonal cycle. May the disruption be permanent and those destructive critters never come back.  

Though I fear declaring victory too soon, the pandemic seems to be winding down, after two vaccination campaigns followed by a communal sigh of relief. 

Yesterday we saw that the checkpoints on the highway from Querétaro, where Civil Protection guards have been inspecting all out-of-town cars and taking the temperature of visitors, had been lifted. Good thing: That precaution made San Miguel look like a restricted UFO landing site in New Mexico.    

At the church we attend, most people this past Sunday were not wearing face masks, though the folding chairs were still dutifully scattered about. I don’t recall any official announcement about masks. Maybe it came from Above and I wasn’t paying attention.  

Let us pray, but not too close, please. 

Other churches in town are still relying on Zoom, that annoying electronic artifice that turned worship into a screenful of passport-size images of strangers, like a version of the Hollywood Squares but without Paul Lynde and Rose Marie to lighten things up.

Another hopeful sign is that some people who’d fled into lone hibernation or hid in “bubbles” of four or five people, are slowly and cautiously emerging.  

At the ranch we are remodeling the kitchen and putting a cover on the back terrace to make it more amenable to entertaining friends during the summer. And in June we plan to attend the Gay Pride Parade in Mexico City, possibly the largest, most raucous, disorganized—and fun—celebration of its kind in the world. 

In October we’re reviving our long-delayed trip abroad, though instead of a tour of England, which was cancelled, we’re headed for Germany for a couple of weeks. 

Later that month we plan to reprise a trip to the Copper Canyon in northern Mexico that we went on several years ago with a busload of San Miguel geezers. We’ll probably run into the same bunch, hear the same stories, except everyone will look geezier

When we and friends discuss travel plans for the fall, though, there’s still sense of hesitation. It’s as if we don’t quite trust the relatively sudden disappearance of a horror that killed millions, and disrupted travel plans and life in general for over a year.  

Some days there is news about the mutations and deadly variants of Covid virus, and a possible “third wave” of the pandemic, but also about a resurgence of tourism and life in general. 

One way to cope with the pandemic. (Photo and story from the NY Times)

This morning we heard that in our hometown of Chicago, Wrigley Field is back in full-capacity business, along with restaurants and other public venues. 

And tomorrow, Chicagoan Dan O’Connor will be taking his 365th daily dive into the invigorating waters of Lake Michigan, a routine he began when his wife threw him out of the house after a particularly raucous drinking bout. 

Like other people throughout the country who developed daily routines to cope with being cooped up, like baking bread or going for long walks, O’Connor opted to jump into Lake Michigan every day, even if he had to bring a shovel to clear a path through the snow and ice. 

Tomorrow, a small group of spectators and some musicians are expected to celebrate O’Connor’s anniversary dive—and, coincidentally, the end of the Great Confinement, or so they hope.  

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