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Mexico’s renewal: la temporada seca is a time of bare-bone revelation and spring promise

The stiff-backed mountains surrounding Guadalajara have long ago turned southern California tan — since December the humpback flanks have been shedding green, turning brown.

pg12aThe dry season air here has become so thin and electric that it seems to scrape the skin. The winds of the temporada seca rake the mountainsides until their very skeletons show. Dust devils swirl out of the barrancas and into the city’s streets, whipping milpa soil and curbside litter indiscriminately together in gyrating spires that rise and fall like capricious ghosts.

Through May and early June is our warmest time — a span of burning and restlessness — the tepid winds are full of the devices of spring: The hollow, unvarying saw of the “rain callers” (cicadas), the dark earth-bound clouds that build suddenly and disappear as fast, bring now only a sprinkle, now a brief anomalous storm. It is time plainly marking the moments just before mid-June’s rainy season clouds collide grandly above the horizon, thunderheads fat with coming moisture.

The air, even in the city, smells of smoke and dust from bared fields, for all day and all night now the mountains have been burning. Visitors point to the fires in awe, old-timers nod, reassured that spring is truly here now that the fires have started.

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