San Miguel’s quiet autumns

They’re not like Vermont’s, but our own autumnal spectacle. Be sure to get up early and pay close attention.

This time of the year we’re showered with rapturous accounts of autumnal displays somewhere up North, when families drive around chasing the colorful fall leaves, a brief yearly event that is really a prelude to months of gray skies and freezing temperatures. Sorry to mention it.

San Miguel’s autumns are not so splashy but dramatic nonetheless. Though the air is cooler, most trees retain their composure and foliage, and cacti, mesquite and other ubiquitous denizens of our semidesert climate remain unfazed by the changed conditions after they’ve flowered and set fruit earlier in the year.

But we have stunning fall spectacles of our own, such as the explosion of tens of thousands of yellow sunflowers and lavender cosmos that blanket the landscape almost overnight. I’ve wondered why they show up in some places and not others, and also where their seeds come from. In years past we’ve been blessed in the ranch with thousands of fragile cosmos swaying in the wind, and sturdier sunflowers towering as high as five feet. This year, though, we’ve had just a few sunflowers and even fewer cosmos, even as the fields along the road to San Miguel are jammed with both. I miss them.

Another sure sign of fall is an early-morning fog so dense it seems to come within two feet of your nose. I don’t know why we get such dense autumn fog. It could be that the ground and flora exhale some of the moisture they’ve soaked up during the rainy season. And with the fog, thousands of cobwebs appear, with tendrils that leap from one branch to another, or completely cover some bushes with a gossamer veil. Both fog and cobwebs vanish as soon as the air gets warm, only to return the next morning.

Also, strange bugs, nesting birds, tiny dewdrops and even faded flowers join in a technicolor farewell to summer. But to catch these fall displays you need to be up and outside by sunrise, which at this time of the year comes fairly late at around 7:30, a fairly reasonable hour.

You also need to pay close attention. We don’t have the unmissable displays of trees in Vermont or Nova Scotia or the sound of dry leaves crunching underfoot. Our fall is not like that, but it’s uniquely beautiful in its own way.

So long summer, hello dry season, says our dog Roxy.

23 thoughts on “San Miguel’s quiet autumns

  1. Barbara Lane

    Gorgeous photos, thank you! I agree autumn is lovely here. How I wish I had some of your tomatoes! I’ve longed to make a tomato pie or two, yet haven’t food tomatoes worthy of it yet.


    1. That’s another mystery: Why grocery stores around here only offer plum and grape tomatoes. Tomato PIE? Stew tried a recipe from Alice Waters for tomato soup and it was really excellent, though it seemed to consume like a dozen tomatoes and only yielded four servings. Thank you for your compliment about the photos.


  2. Jeannie

    The green insect is a green praying mantis.
    Carol and I rode out in the campo on our horses one day last week sort of in the direction towards your house. We noticed a serious lack of cosmos as compared to previous years – actually, we didn’t see any – just a lot of sunflowers. i wonder why. I have old photos of huge fields of them next to huge fields oof sunflowers.


    1. thank you for sharing your entomological insights. After you mentioned it, it occurred to me that, yes, it was a praying mantis. Whatever. It’s the oddest of insects. Sometimes I wonder why God created some of these critters. On our ranch, the land next to the garage used to be covered with cosmos and this year there are about four. The same with the sunflowers. No, it’s not climate change. LOL


  3. Joe Rider

    What a wonderful account of this “season” in the upper desert! As you mentioned, the best part of living in this part of Mexico is that afterwards we won’t have to hunker down for months of cold grey weather! BTW, I believe that this insect is called a preying (not praying!) mantis which is harmless.


        1. OK, please hand back the Entomological Achievement Medal I gave you, at your earliest convenience. Yes, it’s a “praying” mantis apparently because someone looked at it from a certain angle and decided said insect looked like it was “praying.” Go figure.


  4. babsofsanmiguel

    Lovely post and photos.  I LOVE this time of year………. Barbara San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

    415 124-9450 Mx Cell 713 589-2721 Vonage

    “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing”                                            Helen Keller


      1. babsofsanmiguel

        Ha ha ha! Did you know Ron was medevaced to San Antonio Tx hospital from MAC yesterday with diagnosis of pneumonia ? Horrible coughing and unable to get breath. Sounds to me like my battle with whooping cough. Haven’t heard from them yet today.

        Get Outlook for Android ________________________________


    1. Heard this morning on WFMT that temps in Chicago are in the 30s and snow showers are expected this afternoon. Yes, you and Jim should come back here at your earliest convenience. Then we can resume our comida schedule.


      1. Perry

        …and, thankfully, Chicago is expecting “abundant sunshine” today with a high of 77F. The moral being to enjoy it while we can. Thank you for sharing your stunning fall pictures. Fall’s display has been beautiful here. My personal favorite is always the golden ginkgo.


        1. Fall has got to be my favorite season in Chicago. Cool with occasional Indian Summers, and of course all the foliage in Lincoln Park and the different trees. Yes, enjoy it while you can. Here February is not cold but clammy and cloudy. February is not a good month anywhere, I don’t think. Thanks for your comment. Al


    1. Yes, it’s a praying mantis. I should have known that. Moreover, as another reader indicated, it’s a beneficial insect because it preys on noxious ones, like grasshoppers, of which we have thousands this time of the year. Hope there are many more praying mantis(es) out there. Thank you. Glad you liked the pictures.


  5. Beautiful photographs! Here in CDMX it does look like fall. Though the trees aren’t deciduous, they are losing more than the normal allotment of leaves. So the streets are speckled with some color, which is a nice change.


    Kim G
    Roma Sur, CDMX
    Where I’m missing New England fall right about now.


  6. Sorry I didn’t respond to your comment. For the past several years Stew and I have talked about taking a driving vacation in New England, maybe nosing up into Canada. Neither one of us has gone north of Boston. Trees in Mexico City can look strange, I don’t know if it’s the air pollution or what, but often they look yellowish, like they are not happy.


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