It’s winter here at Lake Chapala, and although we don’t
experience the extreme seasonal changes that more northerly
areas do, everyone here feels the contrast.  The air at lake’s
edge  is a little crisper, a little cooler,  a little drier.  Although it
rained a little yesterday, now,  the rain comes in the form of a
few bolts of distant lightning  followed by  unthreatening
rumbles of thunder and a brief, gentle touch of showers that is
gone almost before it has begun.  The dense, vibrant, tropical
green that has covered the hills, fed by the drenching of the
rainy season,  has  given way to a  more muted shade of green
mixed with the brown of some of the withering annuals.  The
surrounding  hills and mountains no longer hold caches of
easily accessed drinking water, and the wild horses that have
lived the summer and fall rainy season invisible in the hills,
now descend to embrace the lake’s shoreline, risking to show
themselves to find water and fleshier grass to munch on
closer to the lake.  There are Christmas decorations going up
in the towns, but in the rural areas, outside of the larger towns
of Lake Chapala, there is no need for decorations.  The
grandeur of Nature’s own decorations far surpass what we
humans could supply for this festive season.  Vast areas of
fields and mountains are still covered with  6- foot- tall wild
orange marigolds, and golden yellow sunflowers. Morning
glories whose  sinewy vines have climbed into trees all
summer  are now bursting in abundance of garlands of green
with electric blue flower-ornaments. Pink crepe cosmos  
embellish  the main trail up the mountain to the dam, and a
variety of unidentified flowering  bushes adorn the hills with
sprays of white and light yellow.    Just beyond the village of
San Juan Tecomatlan, to the West,  rich purple-feuschia  
flowers have appeared at the road’s side. Everywhere, tall
umbrellas of  brilliant red poinsettia blooms,  on  bushes
planted decades ago,  tower over people in their private
gardens.   The fireworks that go off in in Tlachichilco,  the
village below, will soon cease, as the 9-day celebration of their
patron saint comes to an end on Sunday.  Soon,  the priest will
have his catechism class ready  for the procession, hymns and
prayers that will portray the journey that Joseph and Mary took
as they searched for lodging, the Christmas procession known
as  “ la posada.”  Soft-plumed, elegant, white pelicans
ornament the sparkling , diamond  reflections of the undulant
lake water of the North side as they  stop on their way to the
other side of the Lake, where, in the small south-side fishing
village of Petatan they will  join thousands of others to repose
for the winter.  Tourists frequent the village where students of
Nature and beauty study these birds, and the fishermen of the
village willingly place some of their catch into the water to
start another band of white sky-ribbons of these wide-winged
creatures descending upon the spot. They will visit awhile, and
then swim away in a sleek, aquatic procession towards
another invitation of food.   Posters go up announcing a human
celebration of Pelicans; the town is preparing for it, but nothing
can be quite as grand as the pelicans' own celebration as they
grace this humble fishing village with their beauty. Here, at
Lake Chapala, Nature has already decorated for the holiday
season with all her splendor.
Winter 2007
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Lake Chapala
Seasonal Affective