The season of blinding light, thundering rain, and cool mountain evenings

Mar 23, 2019

Perhaps I did not understand the remark correctly. The man said, “We are moving away from Cuenca because the weather is getting old.”  And, perhaps he is right.

I left my place the other morning after returning once for a hat, and a second time for an umbrella. This ritual is becoming so common as to fit into my routine. Like “wash, rinse, repeat.” I wondered, is the weather getting “old?” I’m not sure, but the clouds do seem greyer lately and when it is clear the bald-headed sky is a dome so blue it seems to go on forever, and it does.

The weather has been changeable, but I find the changeability to be cleansing, unpredictable, and always invigorating  — traits usually reserved for words more associated with new, or exciting. The meteorological term “freshening” has real meaning here.

It is the season of blinding light, thundering rain, and cool mountain evenings.

The day begins to brighten after a silvery gauze of clouds is cast aside.  Soon enough it is hot,  the day warmed as only an alpine sun can,  early and deep. Buildings in my neighborhood, especially those freshly painted white,  are glowing. San Sebas Cafe is, as always, packed; overfed diners squint and fumble for sunglasses as they stumble down the steps leaving the restaurant.

San Sebastian Plaza will be the site of a campaign rally later in the day, evidenced by bustling workers swarming around scaffolding that is being raised, while others spread out around the park hanging banners. The sound system is checked again and again — each time louder and longer — until it becomes a soft murmur of voices seeping under the door of my home two blocks away. A few vendors have drawn their carts to the front of the church, hawking plantains, empanadas, skewered chicken bits, and wheelbarrows of freshly picked fruit.

A local knife sharpener takes up his place of business on a wide park bench. Couples arrive to canoodle,  kids show up to kick balls, ride bikes and charm us all with their games and laughter. Mid-morning in Cuenca.

By three o’clock a gang of unruly clouds begins to gobble up the sky and within an hour they are stuffed with rain.  The bloated clouds thunder. The rain comes falling down.

Early evening glistens. Pools of spent rain mirror neon lights and late-stage sunlight. The cafes that swelled with urgent shoppers escaping the rain are now drained — each to their earlier tasks after an interruption celebrated with coffee con leche and casual conversation.

Nighttime is always remarkably quiet. The rattle of metal shields drawn over storefront windows has long since passed. The streets are now wide alleys of corrugated tin populated by hurrying dogs, late-night revelers, and the few remaining last-to-leave office workers.  Soon even the warm glow of twinkling lights will wink out one-by-one.

It will be bald-headed clear in the morning, as soon as the gauze of silvery clouds is cast aside. Soon there will be rumbling in the sky.

It is a story as old as time, a time that is always exuberant, exciting and fresh as a Cajas’ news flash.

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