Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cold Spring

This is the name of our district, which is inside our apartment complex. The whole thing is called New World Gardens, but our particular section is called Sunnyvale Heights. Everyone calls it Aqu, though. Unlike the Mid West of the States, which is having a record breaking balmy spring (already in the 80's)--we are still experiencing freezing temperatures, wind, and lots of overcast skies. On Friday and Saturday, it snow-rained again. So, while our families in America are watching the flowers bloom, the trees bud, and wearing shorts--we're still bundled up and dreading the time when our government regulated heat is shut off.

Do not allow Adam's attire to fool you. It's still pretty chilly outside. He frequently wears shorts outside during the winter to prove how tough he really is.

We went on a walk after dinner. Even though it was cold, it was nice to get out for a short stroll around our neighborhood. Across the street from our district is a river walk. It goes for miles and miles along the river, and besides having sidewalks and small roads for people walking, running, biking, or whatever--there's also lots of exercise equipment. It's where we can see nature, even in its polluted condition, it's nice to have areas that are not entirely built over by concrete. There are thousands of willow trees, some grassy areas, and at some sections along the river there are gardens. Depending what time of day, and what the weather is like, you can see all sort of activities taking place on the river. In the early mornings, dedicated people of all ages walk down to the river. Some walk, some hit trees, some practice their sword dancing, their tai chi, their fan dancing, their interesting calisthenics. Some use the provided equipment. Some fish, some take a dip in their speedos, some sit on the bench with their portable radios. If the weather is nice, there could be thousands of people out at the river. During a typical summer weekend, people set up tents and spend the day socializing, eating, listening to their music. I've seen groups of people chanting together, or singing traditional Chinese operas. Kids roller blade, adults play ping pong, grounds keepers water plants using water from the river. At night, people are still taking leisure walks, exercising, eating, talking, coming home from work or the market, or getting together in groups to dance. Even late into the night, there's always people around, always staying active and socializing.

But when we went out to the river yesterday, it was desolate. It could have been the weather. The day. The season. Who knows why exactly, but we were among the only people near our part of the river. It was strange. Even on calm days, there's always some sort of traffic, whether its maintenance vehicles, race bikes, or wheelbarrows. But, it was very quiet and deserted. We saw a handful of people, and that was it.

I took this picture so that you could see the 'grass'. During this time of year, grounds crew workers burn the dead grass and leaves to encourage new growth. It's very different, but a normal sight here.

Making sure Willow is still tucked in and warm.

The vacant exercise equipment. I was commenting to Adam how eerie it was to walk around the river when no one was there. It was like the rapture had happened. Or a zombie attack. It definitely felt apocalyptic.

It was a hazy sunset.
Willow by her willow trees.

There's lots of theories, made by us foreigners, as to why all the tree trunks are painted white in China. What do you think is the reason?

Bare willow branches, lovely 'sand' skies. Who knows if it's clouds, sands from Mongolia, or pollution.

This would be the place where we would exercise too. It's great for running or walking with friends. There's another sidewalk at a lower elevation that's closer to the water. There are piers periodically down the river too. Sometimes there are events happening on those piers. I've seen people renting little innertube boats, and they paddle out in the river with one oar. Sometimes the river is very low, sometimes it's high. Sometimes there are large deposits of sediment blocking the flow. It's a strange river. It usually smells a little in the summer, but at least it's a few degrees cooler there and the breeze is nice.

Brrr! Take me home!

I knew I wouldn't be able to do a chin up. I've never been able to do it. But Adam was pretty pleased that he could still do several. Seeing all the empty, eerie exercise equipment, it made me think of the country where we live. Lots of accessible equipment, as low-tech as possible, available to the masses. Lots available for everyone. Everything was the same. Simple. Efficient. Free. And at that moment, vacant.

Yeah....that wasn't going to happen.


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